How to Clean a Mirror

cleaning a mirror

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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 paint brush
  • Microfiber or disposable duster
  • Sturdy step stool

Materials

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Commercial glass cleaner (optional)
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Cotton balls or cosmetic pads

Instructions

materials for cleaning a mirror
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Clean a Mirror

  1. 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.

    mixing a cleaning spray
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  2. 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.

    cleaning residue off the mirror with a cotton ball
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  
  3. 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.

    starting at the top of the mirror
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  

    Tip

    Fold your microfiber cloth into a quarters or a hand-sized packet. This will give you several sides to use while cleaning. Move to a clean side, if needed, if the mirror is exceptionally dirty.

  4. 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.

    using a microfiber cloth to buff the mirror
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  

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.

  1. Avoid Overspray

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 paint brush is particularly helpful in dusting intricately carved frames.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.