How to care for mirrors? 18 questions answered

We get asked about caring for mirrors all the time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our wall mirrors are always kept in good condition and looking crystal clear, retaining their shine even after years of usage.

No one wants to see dried water droplets, toothpaste splatter, or yucky hair wax on mirrors, so it’s important to keep them clean. Plus, if you neglect them, dark spots will start to develop over time, which makes a mirror pretty useless and ugly.

While it is not that complicated to care for them, there are some details that people might miss out on.

In this post, I have put together all the common questions I get asked about how to care for mirrors. Hopefully, you will find something that you are looking for!

Here’s what you will find in this post:

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What is the best way to clean mirrors?

I use the following steps each time I clean my mirrors:

  • Wipe down with rubbing alcohol, using a microfiber cloth or cotton pads. This step is used to remove dirt, grime, and any fingerprints. Be sure to scrub off all the gross stuff on the mirror.
  • Next, you can spray on a glass cleaner solution, or use your own DIY concoction of vinegar solution. You do not want to turn the mirror into a pool, but rather just a thin layer of the solution. This is to prevent the liquid from seeping into the frame of the mirror and damage them. To be on the safe side, you can spray the solution onto your cloth instead.
  • Start wiping down with a microfiber cloth. If you do not have one, you can use crumpled-up newspaper (yes, newspaper!) instead. Wipe horizontally, followed by vertically to make sure all the liquid is gone. Do not wipe in circular motions as this will leave streaks!

This is the best way to clean windows without Windex!

How to make your own vinegar cleaning solution?

  • Prepare a small spray bottle
  • Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water and fill up the bottle (it is better to use distilled water as they don’t contain any minerals)

Why does newspaper clean glass so well?

I think we are all guilty of ignoring our grand folks’ teachings from time to time. This advice of using newspaper though, it works! Since the early 2000s, newspapers have switched to soy-based ink, which does not smear or smudge, plus they are made on dense fiber that does not scratch. Perfect for cleaning glass or mirrors!

How often should I clean mirrors?

For bathroom mirrors, I try to wipe them down with a clean cloth and warm water every day and do a “major” cleanup each weekend. It sounds like a chore, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes. Ignore it, and you will be spending lots more time cleaning them up in the future.

For the other mirrors, I clean them about once a week or fortnight.

How do you maintain a mirror?

To keep your mirrors in tip-top condition, you should:

  • Clean them regularly
  • Place them in areas that are well ventilated
  • Always keep them dry, with extra care taken for the frames
  • Do not use cleaners that contain high amounts of ammonia
  • Only use soft cloth or newspaper to clean them

What causes mirrors to desilver?

Desilvering is when black spots develop on a mirror, usually near the edge of the frame. The backing of the mirror is starting to wear down, leading to these black spots appearing.

Although this is most common in antique or vintage mirrors, it can happen to new mirrors too. The culprit here is almost always moisture.

This happens most often in bathroom mirrors, which is why you need to pay more attention to them since they are exposed either directly to water or vapors from hot showers.

Why do my mirrors streak when I clean them?

The presence of oil-based particles on your mirror can lead to streaking when you try to clean them. These could be debris from hair products or makeup or simply grease from your fingers. If you attempt to wipe your mirror without removing them, you will inadvertently leave streaks on your mirror as you are just spreading them around.

How do you keep mirrors from streaking?

The best way to keep mirrors from streaking is to make sure all debris is removed completely before wiping it down. Check back on the first step in this post.

Can I use Windex on mirrors?

Windex

is a popular glass cleaner, and we have used it in our home before. It is gentle on glass, cleans well, and is very reasonably priced. You might also get your hands on an ammonia-free cleaner too.

Can you use Clorox wipes on mirrors?

Clorox wipes

are a disinfectant wipe that is commonly used in households to clean a variety of things, including surfaces.

We have tried it once, and it does work. You do need to wipe down and dry your mirror after using it.

I still prefer to use my own glass cleaner or vinegar solution though as it is more cost-effective.

What is the best cloth to use to clean mirrors?

Microfiber cloths are the best for cleaning mirrors. Equally important is that you must make sure that the cloth is clean before using it! I store them separate from our regular cleaning cloths.

They are smooth, absorbent, and do not scratch glass.

I recommend using this.

Do paper towels scratch mirrors?

Even if someone tells you that they work, I wouldn’t risk it. Paper towels come in different quality, and they contain lots of tiny paper fibers.

This means that they are likely to leave behind lint residue. Defeats the point of cleaning right?

Is rubbing alcohol good for mirrors?

Yes, they are, but you will need to use 70-percent isopropyl alcohol. These can commonly be found in home improvement stores or even grocery stores, and are quite cheap.

If you have some lying around at home, you can make full use of them now on your mirrors. But please, do not use a hand sanitizer that contains isopropyl!

How do you clean a mirror with toothpaste?

You just need to grab a damp cloth and apply a little bit of toothpaste and start rubbing in circular motions. Toothpaste contains mild abrasives, so it can work well in removing debris on mirrors. Wipe down with a clean cloth and as always, ensure your mirror stays dry.

I wouldn’t recommend using toothpaste for the long run though. They cost too much to be a long-term solution.

Why do old mirrors get cloudy?

After prolonged use and maybe negligence, you are bound to see a mirror turn cloudy. It might not even be your fault though, as some mirrors are simply not made with the same quality materials.

Residue builds up over time and can render a mirror cloudy. Another possibility is that the backing of the mirror has been damaged, either through moisture seeping in, dropping it or something similar.

This would mean that you likely need to change the mirror.

How can I make my mirror shine again?

Again, follow the same steps prescribed above.

Remove debris, wipe with a vinegar solution or cleaning solution, keep dry.

Can old mirrors be restored?

Yes, they can to a certain extent. There will be some work involved though, so you need to consider if that’s what you really want. If you have an old antique mirror, do you really want to make it look new? Or do you just want to “repair” the edges and cover up some of the black spots?

If you really intend to do that, here is a nice resource.

Can you clean a mirror with just water?

Yes, you can, and this is what I do daily for my bathroom mirrors. Eventually, you will need some kind of solution to help you get rid of stains and scum that are present on the surface of the mirror. So treat water as some kind of in-between solution rather than a permanent one.

How to care for mirrors, what’s next?

Tip: I have added a new article that tackles the problem of how to remove glue from a mirror. Check it out too!

Now that you know the ins and outs of caring for your beloved mirrors, you can head on to other articles such as how to pick the right mirrors, mistakes to avoid when decorating with mirrors, and check out our favorite Pier 1 mirrors!

 

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Emma Taylor

Emma Taylor is the Chief Editor at Wallccessories and writes regularly about topics surrounding home decor. Her family has moved several times over the years due to her husband's job requirements, and thanks to that, she has had many opportunities to dabble in designing and decorating real cozy homes.