How Do You Clean Dark Cabinets?

The cabinets in our kitchen were installed about three months ago, and I cannot say enough about how much I LOVE them! The color, the function, the hardware, the built-in organization features… I seriously love everything about these beauties.

kitchen cabinets with smudgesHowever, if I’m being completely honest, I do have to report that our black cabinets show fingerprints, smudges, and dust. I knew what I was getting into when choosing this color so I’m not turned off by this reality. To me, the gorgeous look of these cabinets far outweighs this minor “negative”.

cleaning black kitchen cabinets made easyBut when I went to clean these cabinets for the first time, I was hesitant because they are so new and gorgeous. The last thing I wanted to do was try and clean them using a solution that could potentially cause damage.

Which brought me to the question, “how do you clean dark cabinets”? I’m happy to report that after some research and thorough testing, I have an answer that is easy, affordable, and very effective. If anyone else is struggling with smudgy cabinets (of any color), this post is for you!

What Do You Use To Clean Dark Cabinets?

how to clean black cabinetsThe answer: A DIY solution of white distilled vinegar, water, and a hint of dish detergent inside of a spray bottle paired with a clean microfiber cloth.

After testing a few different options with my mom, who we tease for having a “doctorate in cleaning” because she’s so amazing/passionate about cleaning, this is the most effective solution we found.

And when I say we tested a few different options, I literally mean that.

cleaning black cabinets the easy way

My mom and I did not want to damage these beautiful new cabinets. We actually used an extra piece of cabinet and made sure the winning solution not only worked effectively, but didn’t alter the color, sheen, or overall look of the dark cabinet. Regardless of what you choose to clean your cabinets with, I would highly recommend testing it out (even inside of the cabinet door) before doing it on the real thing. This will ensure your product is safe for the cabinet before it’s too late and the damage is done.

The Solution

creating a DIY cleaning solutionLike I already mentioned, the solution is made up water, vinegar, and a little bit dish soap. I don’t think you need to be super precise and measure these products out exactly, but I do suggest the following:

  • Fill 70% of the spray bottle with water
  • Fill the other 30% of the spray bottle with white distilled vinegar
  • 2 – 4 pumps of dish soap
  • Shake well

The Towel

We found that a clean microfiber towel works best because it not only wipes away any smudges and dust, but it also doesn’t leave any cotton residue behind… like a paper towel or other rags could.

I bought a package of microfiber towels and try to keep these separate from the rest of my towels so that I only use them for this purpose. It’s important to make sure the microfiber towel is super clean. I know this is a long shot, but sometimes, other towels get debris and little pebbles stuck in them that could potentially scratch your cabinets! #notgood

Tips And Tricks for Cleaning Dark Cabinets

Once you have your supplies all set, we found that spraying the solution into the microfiber towel instead of on the cabinet itself was most effective. We also found that you don’t need much solution to get the job done. One, maybe 2, squirts should be enough to wipe the cabinet clean from all dust, fingerprints, or smudges.

If there are heavy fingerprints on your cabinets, like the ones Ben leaves on ours, you may need just a little more muscle while you wipe or may need to go over that “problem area” more than once with the cloth.

cleaning a dining room table
We also found that this method + solution cleans smudges off more than just our dark cabinets! I use this same method now when I see smudges or fingerprints on door frames, doors, or even our dining room table.

Happy Cleaning!

So there you have it, hopefully, a simple solution for anyone else who struggles to keep their dark cabinets smudge, fingerprint, and dust-free! Happy cleaning!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.