How to Clean a Mirror
Take a minute to look around your home. You may be surprised at the number of mirrors you see: bathroom mirrors, mirrors on dressers, wall mirrors, mirrors in display cabinets, handheld mirrors—and don't forget the mirrors in your car or truck. A mirror is both functional to help us during grooming and dressing but also decorative to help add depth and reflect light around a room.
However, a dirty mirror or one that is full of streaks after being cleaned is not attractive. Fortunately, you can have shining mirrors and clean decorative frames with just a few tools and products you probably have on hand.
How Often to Clean Mirrors
Bathroom mirrors often need daily attention to keep them clean from water, toothpaste, and beauty product splatters. Decorative mirrors should be dusted weekly with a lint-free duster and thoroughly cleaned at least monthly to remove the pollutants that settle on the surface. Mirrors in vehicles should be cleaned at least bi-monthly for increased visibility.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Spray bottle
- Microfiber cloths
- Soft paintbrush
- Microfiber or disposable duster
- Sturdy step stool
- Distilled white vinegar
- Commercial glass cleaner (optional)
- Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
- Cotton balls or cosmetic pads
How to Clean a Mirror
Create a Cleaning Solution
In a spray bottle, mix equal parts cool water and white distilled vinegar. Be sure to add a label to the bottle.
Clean Away Tough Residue
Before you do an overall cleaning of the mirror, you need to remove dried-on residue like toothpaste and splatters from beauty products. Dampen a cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad with a bit of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Gently scrub the residue to loosen it and wipe it away. The alcohol is very effective at removing hair spray residue from glass. Taking a minute to remove visible residue daily will make the overall weekly cleaning much easier and quicker.
Start at the Top
Whether you are using a commercial glass cleaner or the vinegar/water mixture, always start cleaning at the top of the mirror. If you cannot reach the top of the mirror, be sure to use a sturdy step stool to prevent falls. Spray a light mist of the cleaner near the top of the mirror. This way, you will catch any drips as you move down the mirror. Use a lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe down the mirror. Spray on additional mist if needed.
Check for Streaks
If you have not used too much cleaning solution, the mirror should be dry by the time you complete your cleaning. Step to the side and check the finish for any streaks. If you see some spots, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to give the mirror a final buff.
How to Clean Decorative Mirror Frames
Cleaning the frames around mirrors can be a bit more tricky than cleaning the glass itself. Many frames, especially antique gilded wood, can be damaged by the acidic nature of homemade and commercial mirror cleaners. Attention should be paid to any frame surrounding a mirror as a part of the cleaning process.
Since acidic cleaners can damage wood and some metal, it is important to prevent overspray onto the surface of the frames. Instead of spraying a mist of cleaner directly onto the mirror, spray it onto a microfiber cloth.
Clean From the Top
Start at the top of the mirror and clean using the cleaner-dampened microfiber cloth. Pay careful attention to corners to make sure they are wiped clean.
Dust the Frame
Using a dry microfiber cloth or disposable duster, carefully dust the frame. If you cannot reach the top of the frame, use a sturdy step stool. A new, soft paintbrush is particularly helpful in dusting intricately carved frames.
Check the Frame for Stains
Check the frame for any spatters or stains that need to be removed. If you see an area that needs cleaning, do not use any chemicals or abrasive cleaners. Dip a microfiber cloth in plain water. Wring until only slightly damp and gently wipe away the soil on the mirror frame.
Check for Streaks
When you have finished dusting the frame, step to the side and check the mirror for streaks. If you see some or any residue lingering in the corners, use a dry microfiber cloth to give the mirror a final buffing.
Tips to Keep Your Mirrors Clean Longer
- Take a moment daily to do a quick wipe-down of your bathroom mirror with a lint-free cloth.
- Keep fingers and hands away from mirrors.
- Teach your kids not to touch mirrors in the house.
- Spot clean as needed with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball.