Wooden cabinets reign supreme in every home’s kitchen no matter its interior style. Their timeless elegance and natural warmth exude comfort and sophistication that other materials simply can’t replicate. But despite their undeniable beauty, wooden furniture is susceptible to the inevitable grime and stains that come with everyday kitchen life. Grease splatter, sticky fingerprints, cooking mishaps, and spills can quickly leave even the most meticulously cared-for cabinets looking lackluster. This guide equips you with a five-step strategy on how to clean wood cabinets and make them shine. 

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

How to Clean Wood Cabinets and Make Them Shine.
Photo from Scavolini

Conquering grime and restoring the shine of your wood cabinets requires a carefully chosen squad of cleaning companions. 

Microfiber cloth. Their super-fine fibers are great for attracting dust, dirt, and grease without scratching the delicate wood surface.

Warm Water. It might seem simple, but this is the universal solvent for most cleaning tasks. It’s effective at loosening grime and dirt without resorting to harsh chemicals.

Distilled White Vinegar. This eco-friendly hero is a natural powerhouse for tackling tougher grime. Its mild acidity cuts through grease and acts as a disinfectant, perfect for those areas around the sink or stove where splatters and spills may linger. For best results, use distilled white vinegar to avoid potential mineral residue.

Spray Bottle. This can make applying cleaning solutions a breeze. It allows for a more controlled application, especially when using solutions.

Baking Soda. This natural gentle abrasive can work wonders on stubborn stains, sticky fingerprints, and water rings without harming the wood finish.

Step 2: Clear Out Cabinet Items

How to Clean Wood Cabinets and Make Them Shine.

Before diving into the cleaning itself, it’s crucial to prepare the wooden kitchen cabinets first. Clear out all items inside to gain complete access to all surfaces. This ensures an unobstructed and thorough cleaning, reaching even the hidden corners and crevices where grime quickly accumulates. Plus, it reduces the risk of spills or drips from spices and condiments that might damage your cleaning solution or stain the wooden cabinets itself. 

Along with the items, remove the cabinet hardware as well. The primary function of knobs and handles is to open and close the cabinets. So, these are the parts that frequently come in direct contact with unsanitized hands. This is why they easily accumulate fingerprints and dirt. 

Detaching them allows you to minutely clean them, ensuring they shine alongside the rest of the cabinets. Additionally, with hardware out of the way, you can access those hidden areas around the knobs and pulls.  

By emptying cabinets and removing the hardware upfront, you can save yourself the hassle of working around obstacles later. 

Step 3: Deep Clean

How to Clean Wood Cabinets and Make Them Shine.

Now that your wooden kitchen cabinets are prepped, it’s time to tackle the dust and grime. This phase involves a two-pronged approach for a more comprehensive and targeted cleaning.

Begin by dusting. Give the surfaces and edges a good wipe with a dry microfiber cloth to capture loose particles and cobwebs first. In this way, you can prevent a trail of wet dust once you apply the damp cloth. It’s also important to work your way from the highest points of your cabinets down. Following this system will avoid dust from falling back onto already cleaned surfaces. 

After ensuring the wooden cabinets are dust-free, you can now proceed to dealing with tougher grime. Oftentimes, you only need to dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water to wipe down light grease. But for more stubborn grime, bring out distilled white vinegar.

Mix equal parts of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle then lightly mist the greasy areas. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to give the natural solution time to break down the grease. Then, using a damp microfiber cloth, wipe away the loosened grime. 

Don’t forget to dry the surfaces with a dry cloth to leave no moisture and watermarks that can lead to mold growth. 

Step 4: Target Pesky Stains and Watermarks

Photographed by Ed Simon

Clearing out dust and grease doesn’t mean the job is done. Sometimes, vinegar solution isn’t enough to make stains and watermarks go away. For this, you need the mild abrasive power of baking soda.

In a small bowl, combine baking soda with a little amount of water to create a paste with a viscoelastic consistency. Dip a clean, damp microfiber cloth into the paste then apply directly to the stain. Gently rub the stain using the cloth in a circular motion and apply light to moderate pressure. Remember that you want to remove the stain and not scrub away the wood finish. 

Once you’ve tackled the stain, rinse the area with clean water using a separate damp microfiber cloth. Repeat the process if needed until the stain is completely removed and make sure to dry the stained area afterwards. 

Step 5: Dry and Restore Wooden Cabinets’ Shine


By now, you might notice your wooden kitchen cabinets gleaming by themselves. However, it still needs some final touches to fully restore its natural appearance. Those knobs, pulls, and handles you removed also need some attention. 

Except for iron, zinc, aluminum, and copper, you can submerge cabinets’ hardware in a hot water and white vinegar solution. Then, gently scrub them using a soft brush or a damp microfiber cloth to remove any grease or dirt build-up. For hardware made of reactive metals, you can clean them using the same baking soda paste you used for wood stains. 

Afterwards, rinse them thoroughly with clean water. Let them dry completely before installing them back to your cabinets to prevent rust or discoloration. 

For an extra touch of bling, apply natural wood and metal polish depending on the type of materials your cabinets are made of. 

And voila! Your wooden kitchen cabinets are as good as new. With only a few steps, you can clean and restore these once-stunning wood cabinets and make them shine again. 

Read more: 5 Local Wood Furniture Shops in the Philippines to Explore

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