How to Restore Shine on Wood Kitchen Cabinets

The close proximity of kitchen cabinets to the sink and appliances leads to things becoming stuck to the surface, including food and water. The heat from the stove can also dry out the wood, even if it's been treated or stained. Over time, the finish on the cabinets tends to look dull and lifeless. Cleaning the wood and specially treating it will help restore the original shine and give the cabinets a new look.

Combine enough dish soap with warm water to make a sudsy mixture in a plastic bucket. Use the sponge to rub the mixture around the handles and anywhere else you notice grease from hands or cooking. The soap cuts through the grease. Rinse carefully with fresh water.

Clean all areas of the cabinet with a wood or oil soap. These soaps are specifically created to restore old wood and make the finish look shiny again. Use the solution on cabinet doors and edges or sides of the cabinets, then rinse away.

Mix the vegetable oil and distilled white vinegar together and pour into a plastic spray bottle. Spray the solution on the cabinets, working on small areas at a time. Gently rub the solution into the wood with a soft cloth and let it dry overnight.

Treat the wood cabinets with furniture polish between cleanings. Use a furniture polish specifically designed for use on wood furniture. Rub the liquid into the wood, then buff the cabinets with a soft cloth.

Rub lemon oil on the surface of the cabinets, but only if the cabinets are at least six months old. Use your hands or rub the cabinets with a soft cloth. The lemon oil has a light scent and restores the shine to faded or dull wood.


Lemon oil makes it harder to refinish the cabinets later. If you plan to refinish the cabinets, skip the lemon oil step and just use furniture polish.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Plastic bucket
  • Soft sponge
  • Oil soap
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Soft cloth
  • Furniture polish
  • Lemon oil
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About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.