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How to Clean Your Mirrors

In Snow White, the evil queen gazes into a sparkling reflection to pose her infamous question, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?”

Murky smudges wouldn’t do for her. And they shouldn’t cut it for you. Before we share tips for cleaning your mirrors, here is a little history. Mirrors were once made by polishing a suitable substance until it became highly reflective. Modern Neolithic mirrors are made by grinding and polishing obsidian rocks until they sport an incredible sheen.

The most common type of consumer mirror is known as a plane mirror, which takes light and reflects it back. Essentially highly reflective surfaces, household mirrors typically hung on walls in bedrooms and bathrooms are often backed with silver. This means that the reflective surface (which in most modern mirrors is aluminum), is viewed through a thin layer of glass. The glass protects the aluminum from scratching and bubbling, but also slightly distorts the image.

So what’s the best way to clean the mirrors in your home?


  • Soft cloth
  • Old newspaper
  • White vinegar
  • Foam shaving cream

How to clean a mirror:

  1. To remove dust and loose dirt, pre-clean the surface by wiping it with a soft cloth.
  2. Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
  3. In much the same way we outlined the proper way to clean windows in the instructional video from My Cleaning Lady; you will be able to clean the surface of your mirror by using crumpled newspapers and a mixture of 1 cup of white or distilled vinegar to 1 quart of warm water.
  4. Dip newspapers into the vinegar/water mixture and rub in slow circles across the surface of the mirror.
  5. Once you have cleaned the surfaces of the mirror, rub the wet areas with dry newspaper. This will prevent drips.
  6. If streaks persist, repeat steps 2 and 3.
  7. To dry the mirror, use a squeegee.
  8. The first time you clean your mirror using the above method, you might find that you are battling a heavy residue which may have built up from the repeated use of harsh commercial cleaners.

Other Mirror-Cleaning Tips:

  • To remove the film which results from hairspray, apply rubbing alcohol.
  • Defog your mirror. Julie Edelman, author of The Accidental Housewife, suggests spreading a thin layer of shaving cream over your mirror. When you’re finished showering, wipe it off with a paper towel for a clean mirror that will not fog up for up to 3 weeks.
  • Another way to prevent foggy mirrors is to run an inch of cold water into the bathtub before turning on hot water.
  • Also popular is the use of a hairdryer to de-fog mirrors.
  • Inexpensive anti-fog wipes designed for use on car windshields can be safely applied to mirrors.

How to Protect Mirrors:

  • Keep the edges of mirrors dry. Moisture can cause “black edge,” which damages the backing. If you do accidentally spill liquid on mirror edges, wipe it up!
  • Don’t spray cleaner/vinegar/water directly onto the mirror-this helps avoid black edge.
  • Avoid using abrasive commercial cleaners which contain acid, alkali, or ammonia.
  • If you have several wall-mounted mirrors next to each other, clean each mirror separately.
  • Avoid using newspapers which contain soy-based ink.

If your commitment to keeping a clean home extends beyond clearing clutter, you could benefit from professional housecleaning services. My Cleaning Lady is a domestic referral agency.  The house cleaners we refer offer complete home cleaning services including thorough dusting at reasonable prices. My Cleaning Lady Referral Agency proudly serves Arcadia, Chino, Chino Hills, Duarte, Ontario, Pomona, LaVerne, Covina, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Montclair, Claremont, Phillips Ranch, Upland, West Covina, Glendora, San Dimas, and Sierra Madre. Visit call (909) 593-6690 for information or to arrange a free estimate.