How to Clean Mirrors

A woman sprays a mirror with glass cleaner.

Without clean mirrors, we wouldn’t be able to differentiate between the clothes that make us look bloated and the clothes that inspire confidence; we wouldn’t be able to see our zit-encrusted faces, our perfections and imperfections, or that tail-gating son-of-a-bitch who earns the hard-flexed middle finger. Without clean mirrors, horror films would need to find another clichéd device to further pollute our minds. Clean mirrors are the bedrock of our free society. Without them, chaos would ensue.

That being said, mirror cleaning is quite simple. Whether you are cleaning a few small pieces or a dozen large wall mounts, the methods I use to clean mirrors will take little of your time, and reflect your image all too clearly.

Steps in Mirror Cleaning

  1. Cleaning suppliesGather your mirror cleaning supplies. You’ll need white vinegar, a spray bottle, a plain soft cloth (I use part of an old cotton t-shirt), a microfiber cloth, and a towel. If you are doing larger mirrors or many mirrors for a business, a handheld squeegee will save you time and prevent streaks. If your mirrors are especially soiled, dish soap may also be needed.
  2. Pink spray bottleMake your mirror cleaning solution. My homemade mirror cleaning solution consists of two parts warm water, one part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. I add a drop of organic dish soap for a little extra cutting power (sneezed-on mirror). This cleaning solution also works for glass and windows. Be sure to slap a label on your bottle, as the solution can be reused.
  3. towel on sink topLay a towel down under the mirror and prewash (optional). Water damages wood, which is what frames or supports many quality mirrors. If you can, lay a towel down at the base of the mirror. If not, be sure to catch excess solution before it pools on the wood. If liquid gets behind and in the sides of mirrors, it can cause the infamous “black edge.” If your mirror has been in storage for awhile, go over it with a soft rag and some water. This will prevent scratches during mirror cleaning.
  4. spraying down the mirrorSpray the mirror cleaning solution onto your soft rag, and then gently wipe the surface. Your soft rag should be damp, not soaked. Using the spray bottle makes controlling moisture much easier, but be careful not to let moisture pool or run.
  5. wiping down the mirrorPolish and dry the mirror with a microfiber cloth.These things are a lazy man’s cleaning tool. It can absorb tremendous amounts of moisture and polish at the same time. If you have many, large mirrors to clean, invest in a high-quality squeegee to dry the mirror. Like the microfiber cloth, it will leave your mirror clean and streak-free.
  6. using q-tips on mirror edgesUse damp Q-tips to clean mirror edges and hard to reach places. I would only go this far for quality, decorative mirrors with nice frames or supportive edges, of which I have none. If I did, I would dip the Q-tip in the cleaning solution and then wring it out between my fingers. After cleaning around an edge, I would flip the Q-tip around to dry the same area.

More Mirror Cleaning Tips

Newspapers to polish mirrors? Sure, go ahead. Newsprint is very similar to paper towels, but it won’t leave lint on the mirror. I avoid newspapers because some are printed with soy-based or oil-based ink, which can lead to smearing and scratching. Most newspapers publish using a water-based ink, but I’m not going to keep track of this stuff. I’ll just use a microfiber cloth.

Fog-free bathroom mirror. Shaving with a foggy mirror can lead to cuts, nicks, and death…Don’t die on your bathroom floor, naked and without dignity. Spread a thin layer of shaving cream on your mirror before showering. Afterwards, wipe it off with a paper towel. Your newly clean mirror will stay fog free for a few weeks…more if you hardly bathe.

Can I just use water to clean mirrors? Yes. If your mirrors stay relatively clean and are cared for regularly, water is the only cleaning agent you need. For quick mirror cleaning, I wipe down the surface with a damp, soft rag and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Mirror Cleaning Supplies

microfiber clothsMicrofiber Window, Mirror, and Glass Cloths. I’ve had mine for a year and many washings, and they still work great. There are many different brands and styles of microfiber cloths, soft cloths, chamois cloths…etc. They clean mirrors well, but they are extremely versatile and can be used for a plethora of cleaning projects. If you can’t find Zwiffer, you can give Zwipes a try, sold on Amazon.

Old tshirtsYour old T-shirt.This product, if not handed down to some miserable wretch, can be reused for mirror cleaning. Use plain, soft shirts without abrasive designs or annoying jokes. Shirts with annoying jokes, pre-fabricated rips or holes, Che Guevara, or your new favorite band will all cause irreparable damage to mirrors.

Spray bottleReusable spray bottles. If you make your own cleaning solutions, invest in some reusable spray bottles. I have one for glass, window, and mirror cleaning on hand, and a few others. Making your own cleaning solutions is a great way to save money, and reusing the bottles is also better for the environment, especially if you recycle the bottle once it breaks.