How Do You Clean Dark Kitchen 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.

Our New Cabinets Show Lots of Smudges

kitchen cabinets with smudges

However, if I’m being completely honest, I do have to report that our black cabinets show fingerprints, smudges, and dust with regular use.

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”. I knew that with the proper care and regular maintenance, I could keep them looking good.

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

This 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 Kitchen Cabinets?

how to clean black cabinets

The answer: A DIY solution of white distilled vinegar, warm 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. I didn’t want any water marks on here either.

Regardless of what you choose to clean your cabinets with, I would highly recommend testing it out (even inside of the cabinet doors) 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.

After some trial and error, we came up with a step-by-step guide for cleaning kitchen cabinets.

The Solution

creating a DIY cleaning solutionAs I already mentioned, the solution is made up of water, vinegar, and a little bit of dish soap. No harsh chemicals or abrasive cleanershere. I don’t think you need to be super precise and measure these products out exactly, but I do suggest these simple steps:

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

The Dry Cloth

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

I bought a package of clean towels and tried to keep them 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! Make sure it’s a clean cloth before you go to town on your cabinet surfaces.

How to Clean Dark Kitchen Cabinets

Once you have your supplies all set, the first step is to spray the solution into the dry microfiber cloth. We found that this was more effective than spraying the cabinet itself.

We also found that you don’t need much solution to get the job done. One, maybe two, squirts should be enough to wipe the cabinet clean of all dust, fingerprints, food stains, or smudges. Make sure to really get around the cabinet hardware with your clean towel.

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 soft cloth.

My Favorite Way to Clean

I’ve incorporated this into my regular weekly cleaning and I’m able to give every surface a quick wipe as I go.

cleaning a dining room table
We also found that this method and gentle cleaner get 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. It really is the best way to keep lots of surfaces around your home looking good.

I’ve also gotten a few questions about using this method on wood cabinets, laminate cabinets, white cabinets, and more. Yes, I think this is the best way to clean kitchen cabinets of all kinds. It doesn’t just work on dark colors.

Enjoy Your Clean Cabinets!

So there you have it, hopefully, a simple solution for anyone else who struggles to clean dark kitchen cabinets. Happy cleaning!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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