How to Clean Mirrors and Glass With Vinegar

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated June 15, 2021
Man cleaning window in home
Photo: Dusanpetkovic1 / Adobe Stock

You might catch more flies with honey, but you’ll clean more glass with vinegar

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We’ve all been there: There are streaks on your windows no matter how hard you clean them. The mirror mocks you by reflecting your aggravated face as you desperately try to remove the smudges. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these steps to get your mirrors and glass clean with water and a little bit of vinegar.

Difficulty: 1/5 You’ve got this!

Time: ~1 hour

Tool and Materials Needed:

  • White vinegar

  • Water 

  • Spray bottle

  • Cotton towels

  • Balled-up newspaper*

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Squeegee (optional)

  • Non-scratch scouring sponge (optional)

  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)

*When wiping with newspaper, ensure it has petroleum-based ink instead of soy. If in doubt, test a small area to make sure no residue gets left behind.

1. Mix Vinegar and Water in a Spray Bottle

Concoct a solution of one part vinegar to four parts water in your spray bottle. Side note: Vinegar has many surprising uses, so be sure to keep this multitasking staple stocked in your pantry.

2. Spray Down the Mirror or Windows

Spray the entire surface down with your vinegar solution. Use a heavier hand if you have a lot of dirt, dust, and buildup. You can also use this to clean glass shower doors, glass stovetops, and glass light fixtures too.

3. Wipe It Down

Wipe the mirror or window with a cotton towel or balled-up newspaper. Use a sweeping motion and work from one side to the other, like you’re making a large figure 8. Start near the top and work your way down until you’ve gone over the entire surface.

4. Spot-Treat Leftover Smudges With a Microfiber Cloth

If any sneaky, stubborn streaks get left behind on the glass after your first go, wipe them off with a dry microfiber cloth.

5. Allow the Surface to Air Dry

Glass coffee table in living room
Photo: Fotofabrika / Adobe Stock

The best way to avoid annoying lint and residue is by letting the surface air dry. In the meantime, you can clean the surrounding area, make a snack, or do whatever else your heart desires.

6. Use a Cotton Towel to Pick Up Any Remaining Lint

Once you’re sure the surface is completely dry, give it a once-over with a dry cotton towel. If you attempt to buff the glass while it is still wet, you’ll only relocate the lint. Microfiber cloths can also work in this situation, but they will often add more lint due to their staticky nature. 

How to Clean a Mirror or Window That’s Extra Dirty

For mirrors and windows with caked-on buildup or a thick smoke film, use this method:

  1. Use a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol to handle any stuck-on residue, such as toothpaste splatter, lipstick, or hairspray.

  2. Spray vinegar solution over the entire surface until it’s dripping wet.

  3. Scrub the entire window or mirror with the scrubby side of a non-scratch scour sponge (Note: The heavy-duty ones will scratch glass, so always look for “all-purpose” or “non-scratch” on the label).

  4. Use a small squeegee to remove excess water.

  5. Work from one side of the glass sheet to the other with horizontal, overlapping strokes and dry the squeegee blade in between swipes.

  6. Use a cotton towel around the edges, removing any additional moisture.

  7. Once it’s dry, double-check to make sure all streaks and lint are gone.

Finally, know that it’s normal to battle with lint and other household annoyances (the struggle is indeed real). You can also get in touch with a local house cleaning service and have them tackle it for you, along with expertly cleaning the rest of your home. Happy cleaning!

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