If you’ve ever tried cleaning one of your mirrors by simply wiping it down then you know just how fruitless such an effort is. Some people will attempt to clean their mirrors by wiping them down after a steamy shower only to discover than this creates more problems than it solves in the way of streaks and smears. Others will simply apply some warm water to a soft towel in order to remove stains, streaks, and spots from their mirrors…all to no avail. Mirrors are deceptively difficult to clean. Below their normally shiny and reflective surfaces lies trouble for anyone whom thinks that cleaning mirrors is an elementary task.
Dispelling Mirror Cleaning Myths
It would seem that everyone you talk to has a different facts as it pertains to the cleaning of mirrors. Speaking with a professional window or glass cleaner however will make it clear that laypersons often cling to urban myths and simply have much lower standards when it comes to a clean mirror. The following come directly from professional window cleaners.
Steamed Mirrors – Wiping a mirror down after a shower does more harm than good and is an ineffective time waster. This is because, despite the heavy condensation and temperature there is no cleaning agent at work. Wiping down a steamed mirror does nothing but turn spots into smears/streaks and mirrors quickly become wet again due to the lingering steam in a bathroom. These only serve to make matters worse.
No News Is Good News – There was once a time when the ink utilized in the printing of newspapers wouldn’t leave behind residue. That time however has passed and modern newspaper ink bleeds out onto mirrors quite easily. Moreover once it’s on a mirror, newspaper ink is notoriously onerous and difficult to remove. Using newspapers in the cleaning of your mirrors is ill advised and should be avoided at all costs.
Soaking It Up? – A great many people believe that paper towels are a great substitute or replacement for a soft dry cloth and a sponge. In actuality, paper towels leave behind tiny pieces of fabric that build up and dry on a mirror rather quickly. Using paper towels to wash and/or dry your mirrors will leave them looking as though someone threw magnetic caltrops onto your mirror. It is also worth noting that some brands of paper towel can actually scratch the glass mirrors are made from.
Any Old Cleaner – A common practice amongst armature mirror cleaners is the usage of general cleaning products in their work. Not only do general cleaners not clean glass well, or at all, but they can damage the glass on a mirror as well. You don’t use glass cleaner on your floors and counter tops and you don’t use furniture polish or other non specific cleaners on your mirrors.
To properly clean mirrors in any setting you’ll want to have all of the following on hand. These tools and solutions will help you restore your mirrors and will leave them free of streaks, spots, stains, and damage.
Microfiber Cloth – A microfiber cloth can be used to both wash/scrub a mirror and to dry it. In your work you will want to have multiple cloths on hand for both washing and drying. These cloths should also be of the flat weave variety so as to avoid scratching your mirrors.
Cleaning Solution – There are plenty of retail level glass cleaners, most of which are made from harsh and toxic chemicals. The efficacy of the vast majority of these should be considered questionable as well. Instead of wasting your hard earned money on cleaning solutions that are hazardous to both you and the environment try mixing your own cleaning concoction. Your solution should consist of half white vinegar and half water. While vinegar may cause your olfactory senses to take notice, it is otherwise harmless to both you and your mirrors. It’s also a potent spot, stain, and streak remover.
Rubbing Alcohol – For mirrors in a state of seemingly irreparable neglect and for stubborn debris you’ll need some rubbing alcohol on hand while you work. Rubbing alcohol can be applied anytime in order to address the more serious needs of your mirrors but is best used after an initial washing. Rubbing alcohol also lifts smudges and streaks from glass as well.
Cotton Balls – Cotton balls and pads should be kept on hand because they can be used to eliminate build up and debris that doesn’t wipe away easily. These are your biggest ally in spot cleaning your mirror.
A Proper Washing
When washed properly mirrors can be made to look like new. Achieving such results isn’t nearly as difficult as it might seem though by following these steps will help ensure your work is as productive as you want it to be.
Step 1: The first step in cleaning a mirror is to remove any and all loose debris from its surface. Failure to do so or applying cleaning solutions right out of the gate is a recipe for disaster and a complete waste of your time. By removing loose debris first you ensure that additional streaks and smudges aren’t created during the cleaning process and you make the chances of scratching your mirror nearly zero. If your mirror happens to have some excessive buildup on it you can dab a cotton pad with some rubbing alcohol and remove it with some gentle scrubbing.
Step 2: Once your mirrors are free of loose debris and buildup, the next step in the process involves applying your cleaning solution to your mirrors. This can and should be done by way of spray bottle in order to avoid using excess solution and making an additional mess on your counters and/or floors. Utilizing a spray bottle in this step also allows you to cover the entirety of a mirror both evenly and quickly. When applying your solution to any mirror the goal is a light mist and not a deluge of liquid.
Step 3: With your cleaning solution applied to your mirror you’ll next want to grab your microfiber cloth and fold it in half two times. Folding it will allow you to open it up and use dry parts of the cloth for additional work. With your folded cloth in hand begin at the top left hand side of your mirror and slide your cloth to the top right corner. Like an old fashioned typewriter, return to the left side, a notch down, and begin the process again until you reach the bottom of your mirror.
Step 4: If you did things correctly your mirror will not require any drying. Now that your mirror looks clean you will want to rigorously inspect it from different angles looking for streaks and residue that might have escaped your best efforts. If found reapply a small amount of cleaning solution to the affected areas and then wipe it off quickly before it can dry. Repeat until your mirror is sparkling and clear.
When In Doubt
It’s not uncommon to run into problems whilst cleaning your mirrors. The environments they reside in can complicate cleaning and even make the task seem futile at times. If you have any problems in cleaning your mirrors or keeping them clean for reasonable amounts of time stop and considering hiring a professional window/glass cleaner. Professionals are surprisingly inexpensive and come with all the tools and cleaning solutions needed to get the job done right and quickly at that. Many professionals will also apply protectants to the mirrors they clean which help in keeping them cleaner for longer periods of time.