How to clean gloss kitchen cabinets – a step-by-step guide for a great shine

Knowing how to clean gloss kitchen cabinets is important if you want to avoid damaging the fragile material

White kitchen with built in glossy cabinetry
(Image credit: Benchmarx)

A sleek and shiny look is ever popular in modern kitchens and looking after them correctly will help them stay that way. Knowing how to clean gloss kitchen cabinets is a useful skill, and will keep your space looking fresh and new.

This type of kitchen cabinets is especially important to care correctly for if you have them in your home, as they are one of the more delicate decor options and can be easily ruined if not treated properly.

'Having high gloss cabinets is a modern day trend that looks appealing, but they can be difficult to keep totally spotless,' notes Karl Huckerby, cleaning expert, Spare And Square. 'Because of the reflection of the gloss, every mark made can be easily seen, and the gloss makes scratches and markings more likely. This means that you have to be really careful when it comes to what you use to clean your gloss cabinets.'

But while you have to take care, cleaning gloss kitchen cabinets is actually very simple; it requires just a couple of items, and should take you less than five minutes. Our step-by-step guide explains exactly how to clean gloss kitchen cabinets, and the cleaning products you're going to want to avoid to keep your them in tip-top shape.

How to clean gloss kitchen cabinets

White kitchen with built in glossy cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

What you'll need: 

  • 2x soft microfibre cloths
  • Warm water
  • Soap or washing up liquid

1. Clean dirt off with a dry cloth first

To get rid of any bits of food or larger bits of general kitchen debris, it's sensible to first give your gloss kitchen cabinets a gentle wipe over with a dry, microfibre cloth, before giving them a proper clean.

It is vital you use a soft, non-scratchy microfibre cloth for this part – and for the rest of the cleaning process – to avoid damaging your gloss cabinets. They can be easily damaged if you use a cloth that is abrasive, given that the material is so delicate. Marigold's extra-thick microfibre clothes, available on Amazon are ideal for this job.

2. Wipe gently with a damp cloth and soap

Clean white modern Benchmarx kitchen with large island, white cabinets, bi-fold doors to the left and wooden floors

(Image credit: Benchmarx)

Then, it's time to get down to the serious business of cleaning. Most experts suggest using a damp microfibre cloth (not wet, as this can also damage the cabinet) with a small bit of soap – such as washing up liquid – on it.

'Try using a soft cotton or microfibre cloth with only water and soft soap, containing a maximum 1% of liquid soap,' advises Ruth Lavender, design expert, Benchmarx Kitchens. The concentration of soap must be small, as gloss is so fragile that even soap can potentially damage it. If you are concerned, test out the soap you have on a very small section of your cabinets, to see how it reacts. 

When cleaning, be sure to wipe across your cabinets gently, in sweeping strokes across the doors. 

3. Tackle more stubborn stains

What should you do if your cabinets have some more stubborn stains though? 'Depending on the substance, your gloss cabinets may stain if you don't clean up spillages immediately,' says Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert, MyJobQuote. 'This is why cleaning up any and all stains as soon as they occur is important.'

But if you haven't managed to get to the stain in time, there are ways to get rid of it.

While you should avoid ordinary cleaning products, Steve Ferry, technical expert, Benchmarx Kitchens says, 'If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn stain, try using something a little stronger such as a pre diluted sugar soap; it must be pre diluted so it does not contain sugar crystals. This should help to lift the stain and remove any sticky residue.'

Many experts explain that stains can also usually be lifted off of gloss cabinets with a bit of extra water and a little more elbow grease when wiping. However, it's again important not to scrub too hard, as you risk damaging the finish.

4. Dry and maintain between cleans

kitchen with wooden flooring and cabinets and refrigerator

(Image credit: Howdens)

Once you've finished working through how to clean your kitchen cabinets, it's important to give them a final wipe over with your dry cloth, to ensure you pick up any residual water. 'Avoid leaving water to air dry, as this will result in some unappealing water streaks,' explains Sarah from MyJobQuote.

To maintain your cabinet's shine in between cleans, experts suggest some easy tips. 'If spillages occur, wipe them up quickly with a soft, dry, absorbent cloth,' says Sarah.

Additionally, Karl from Spare and Square says, 'In between cleans, glossy cabinets can be wiped with a duster to remove any dust and light markings.'

What to avoid when cleaning gloss kitchen cabinets

Kitchen with dark grey cabinetry and built in appliances

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Now you know how to clean gloss kitchen cabinets, there are a few things that you should never use on them, in order to avoid causing damage to the surface. These include:

  • Most chemical-based cleaning products: While it may be tempting to haul out your favourite cleaning products for this task, it's best to avoid the vast majority of them. 'Even if there is a tough stain or mark on the cabinets, never use bleach or cleaning products with chemicals, as these will damage or corrode gloss cabinets,' says Karl from Spare and Square. 'Not only can they cause permanent marks, but they can also completely erase the glossy element of your cabinets and make them dull.'
  • Scratchy sponges: As mentioned, using abrasive cleaning clothes or sponges is also a huge no-no for gloss cabinets, as it can easily scratch the finish.
  • Bicarbonate of soda: Usually, bicarbonate of soda is considered to be a great natural cleaning ingredient – but when it comes to your gloss cabinets, this old favourite is also banned. 'This is because the mixture is often a little rough, and will simply scratch your cabinets, even if they do remove the stain,' explains Karl.

People often overlook cleaning the inside of their gloss kitchen cabinets too, which is a mistake if you want yours to stay as fresh as possible.

'You should aim to give the inside of your cupboards a good clean once each month,' says Sarah from MyJobQuote. 'Give the bottom, sides and back of the interior a wipe down. This will help to keep your kitchen cabinets clean and free from odours,' she said.

When you're done, why not take a look at our guide to how to organise kitchen cabinets, too?

How do you restore shine to high gloss kitchen cabinets?

White kitchen with gloss cabinets, wooden dining table and chairs and black and white floor tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Beth Davis)

As with many things, the key to keeping your gloss cabinets looking their shiny best is simply to keep on top of the cleaning. 'Daily cleaning with the methods above will help to keep your gloss kitchen cabinets looking shiny,' says Sarah from MyJobQuote.

'If your cabinets look a little dull, give them a refresh with a damp microfibre cloth and then dry them off with a clean, dry microfibre cloth. And avoid using any chemical products that 'promote' glossiness, as these can be counterintuitive and may even result in some damage to the glossy surface.'

Can you steam clean high gloss kitchen units?

White kitchen with dark grey glossy cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

It's advised that you do not use steam if you're wondering how to clean gloss kitchen cabinets, as overuse of water on such a material can have serious consequences.

'Steam cleaning your gloss kitchen units is not advised as it can cause moisture ingress leading to bubbling and changes in the texture of the surface,' explains Steve from Benchmarx Kitchens. 'Excessive changes in temperature and humidity can cause your kitchen cabinets to trap moisture, which can also lead to mould and warping.'

Once this happens, your only option for gloss cabinets that look their best, is to replace them – an expensive and frustrating task for damage that is easily avoided!


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine