How to Clean a Mirror: Step by Step with Photos

Lots of frustrating things can happen when you’re cleaning, but finishing with a less-clean surface or space than you started with is probably at the top of the list. Prime example: when you’re performing a labor of love on your bathroom mirror (or really, any mirror), but you end up with twice the work you set out to do because of streaks. The good news is, if you take the right steps, it doesn’t have to be this way!

If you’re looking for totally clean and streak-free mirrors, start with the right tools. First: Consider your cleaner. You probably know using an all-purpose cleaner isn’t the best idea, since it’ll make the glass cloudy. But even mirror-specific products like Windex, while effective at cleaning, can leave your mirror full of streaks because they contain so much soap.

While streaks are annoying, they aren’t the only issue that can come up when you’re cleaning mirrors. For example, if you normally use a paper towel to wipe down the spray cleaner, you may have noticed it can leave small bits of paper behind on your mirror’s surface. Washcloths or towels can cause a similar problem. The perfect formula here is a DIY cleaner specifically meant for mirrors (don’t worry; we’ve got a great one below) paired with a flat-weave microfiber cloth. 

The Streak-Free Way to Clean a Mirror

Once you have the right tools on hand, it’s time to get the sparkly mirrors of your dreams. Here’s how to clean your mirrors the streak-free way:

1. Start with a clean surface

Before getting that shiny look you’re going for, which is basically just a polish, you need to start with a clean surface. The first step is to remove any gunk, like toothpaste or hairspray, from your mirror. Cleaning expert Melissa Maker recommends using a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to wipe away any stuck-on gunk or dirt.

2. Mix your cleaning solution

This is one of the most important parts of the process: It’s time to prep your streak-free cleaner. Rosa Nogales-Hernandez, head home cleaning valet for Valet Living, says a simple mix of 2 cups water, ½ cup of distilled white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a clean spray bottle should do the trick. 

The trick here is to spray your cleaner directly on a flat-weave, microfiber cloth rather than on the mirror to avoid excess liquid from accumulating in crevices surrounding your mirror. 

4. Clean in a zig-zag pattern

With your microfiber cloth, wipe down the length of the mirror in a zig-zag pattern, ensuring you cover the entire surface, including the corners. Voila! A sparkling clean mirror, without annoying streaks you have to deal with later.

Can you clean a mirror with a newspaper?

Theoretically, you can clean with anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea. If you aren’t enthusiastic about the idea of leaving ink residue on your mirror, avoid using a newspaper. Many newspapers print with soy ink, which can easily transfer to glass. 

Can you clean a mirror with water? 

Water is an important part of your vinegar cleaning solution, but Nogales-Hernandez advises against using it alone. It won’t hurt your mirror, but it will probably leave streaks on your mirrors after it dries.

How do you get streaks off mirrors?

What if you already have streaks on your mirrors? Go grab the rubbing alcohol, but always finish the job with a glass cleaner. “Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle will remove any build up on your mirror that’s causing the streaks,” she says. “Once the alcohol is dry, use a foam glass cleaner to finish cleaning the mirrors.”

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