How to Clean Mirrors

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated July 27, 2022
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. Here’s how to clean mirrors with vinegar and get a streak-free look. 

How to Clean Mirrors and Glass With Vinegar

Follow these steps to get your mirrors and glass clean with water and a little bit of vinegar.

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 there’s a lot of dirt, dust, and buildup. You can also use this solution to clean glass shower doors, glass stovetops, and glass light fixtures.

3. Wipe It Down

Wipe the mirror or window with a cotton towel or balled-up newspaper (see the tip about newspaper below). 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. Allow the Surface to Air Dry

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.

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

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

For mirrors and windows with caked-on buildup or a thick smoke film, follow these steps.

1. Use a Cotton Pad and Rubbing Alcohol

When it comes to bathroom mirrors, we all know what it’s like to try to wipe away stuck-on residue, like toothpaste splatters, lipstick smudges, or hairspray. 

Soak a cotton pad in rubbing alcohol and use it to wipe away resistant gunk.

2. Spray With Vinegar

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

3. Scrub With a Non-Scratch Scour Sponge

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. Squeegee Away Water

Use a small squeegee to remove excess water.

5. Use Horizontal, Overlapping Strokes

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

6. Wipe It Down

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

7. Last Check for Lint

Once it’s dry, double-check that all the streaks and lint are gone and wipe down any remaining spots.

Tips for Cleaning Mirrors

1. 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.

2. 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 the static cling. 

3. Test Your Newspaper  

If you don’t have a lint-free cloth to wipe the mirror down with, you can use a crumpled up newspaper. But know that it has to have petroleum-based ink instead of soy. If in doubt, test a small area to make sure no residue gets left behind.

4. Get Corners With a Toothbrush

When you can’t get residue and lint out of the corners of a framed mirror, dip a toothbrush in rubbing alcohol and brush every nook and cranny. 

Finally, know that it’s normal to battle with lint and other household annoyances (the struggle is 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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