How to Clean a Mirror

Updated 09/16/19

Design: Emily Henderson Design, Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Look around your house. Are your mirrors smudged with fingerprints, makeup debris and who knows what else? Mirrors are an essential part of our home decor and our AM routine, but if you can't remember the last time you reached for the Windex, the good news is that this is probably one of the quickest, easiest chores you can possibly do. In fact, you should be on your way to a clean, streak-free mirror in under two minutes per piece.

The hardest part of cleaning a mirror is ending up with a clean one that doesn't have endless streaks. While anyone can clean a mirror, there are a few tricks to finally eliminate those troublesome streaks and specks of lint. If you're tired of half-clean mirrors that could never support an adequate selfie, here's how to finally get the job done right.

Supplies to Clean a Mirror

Here's what you'll need to get started:

  1. Microfiber cloth (no paper towels or newspaper here)
  2. Your favorite window cleaner (or vinegar and water)
  3. Spray bottle
  4. Cotton pad or cotton balls
  5. Alcohol

Gather the Right Cloth

The good news about this chore is that it's probably one of the fastest on your list. The most important step to cleaning your mirrors the right way is making sure you have the right supplies on hand. Newspapers won't clean your mirrors, and if you want to reduce lint and grime, it's important to invest in a good quality flat-weave microfiber cloth. Microfiber will attract and trap dust while newspaper or paper towels can leave behind ink and fibers that lead to streaks and smudges.

Find a Great Glass Cleaner

Next, grab a good quality store-bought window solution (natural, if possible) or a mix of one-part vinegar and one-part water for a homemade cleaner that's affordable and more effective.

No matter what type of cleaner you decide on, ensure your spray bottle has a misting option and won't shoot out only a single stream of liquid.

Remove Grime

The bathroom mirror is prime for specks of toothpaste, flecks of eyeshadow and other hard-to-remove spots. The secret to a streak-free clean is a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to attack those spots.

Narrow in on the gunk that is easy to see. Before you spray the mirror down, soak a cotton pad with alcohol and scrub away any grime. Work quickly (alcohol dries very fast). This small extra step will lead to a cleaner mirror in the end.

Spray the Mirror

When it comes to spraying down your mirror, less is usually more. Overly soaking a mirror with the glass cleaner will lead to drips that take more time to remove and cause unsightly streaks. You can also spray cleaner directly on your microfiber rag, but keep in mind you'll likely have to reapply a few times if you take this route.

Be sure to spray cleaner from top to bottom evenly to ensure there's a light mist on all corners of the mirror.

Work From Left to Right

Fold your microfiber cloth in half to give yourself more clean surfaces. Like you're reading a book, start in the upper left corner and drag your rag to the right corner, ensuring you're touching all surface space. Continue down the mirror in a zig-zag motion until you've wiped all of the cleaner off of the mirror.

Don't leave any liquid to dry on its own—excess glass cleaner can easily lead to scuffs and streaks.

Check for Scuffs

Once you cleaned every inch of the mirror, step back and check out your work. Look at your mirror at a 45-degree angle so you can catch the light and check for any scuffs or grime. If you missed a spot or accidentally left behind any streaks, spray a light layer of mist over a clean side of your rag and gently swipe and buff dry. Do this until every scuff is gone and you see a clean and clear reflection.

Spending a few extra minutes to leave your mirrors dust and streak-free will make your home appear cleaner, brighter and ready for guests.

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