Toolbox Essentials: Q1 2022 Catalog
How to Clean Mirrors Without Any Streaks or Smudges

How to Clean Mirrors Without Any Streaks or Smudges

We spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. Between brushing our teeth, doing hair or makeup, shaving, and simply admiring ourselves, men and women in the U.S. spend between four to six hours in front of a mirror each week.

We need our mirrors to be clean so we can go about our daily routines and actually see what the heck we’re doing. Cleaning a mirror doesn’t seem like rocket science, yet despite having years of experience doing it, many of us still struggle with annoying streaks and smudges.

Sometimes, it feels like no matter how many times you spray the mirror with cleaner, the smudges just won’t go away. Luckily, we know exactly what you can do to avoid leaving streaks behind when cleaning your mirrors. It’s all about the right tools and techniques.

Start With Rubbing Alcohol

We’ve all been doing it wrong for years! Many of us spray store-bought cleaners onto our mirrors, wipe, and call it a day. There may be streaks, but at least the mirror looks better than it did before.

Well, the solution to these streaks could already be in the cupboard! Instead of going straight in with glass cleaner, it’s better to start with rubbing alcohol. Mirrors, especially in places like the bathroom, often collect a bit of grime. Hair spray, toothpaste, and even dog slime (ever had a dog lick your mirror? We have) should be removed before treating a mirror with glass cleaner.

You can remove this grime with rubbing alcohol. Wet a cotton pad with the alcohol and spot clean as needed. If you feel that your mirror needs more than a spot clean, use a microfiber cloth to cover large surfaces.

It’s important to clean the mirror with alcohol first, because many cleaning sprays will not actually remove grime. Instead, it gets spread around on the mirror, causing streaks.

Try a Vinegar Solution

If you find that store-bought cleaners just don’t cut it, then try making your own glass cleaning spray. Vinegar and water make a simple but effective solution.

All you need is one cup of vinegar and one cup of distilled water. Pour them into a spray bottle and give it a shake to make sure it’s mixed. Then, spray it on your mirrors and get cleaning.

Some people prefer to put a teaspoon of dish soap into this concoction, as well. You can always give this a try and see if you prefer the solution with or without added soap.

Use a Microfiber Cloth

If you want streak-free mirrors, you absolutely have to use a microfiber cloth. Paper towels can leave behind residue, and it’s a myth that newspaper makes a good cleaning tool —the ink will also leave residue on your mirror.

While there are a few different types of microfiber cloths, you’ll want to look for flat-weave cloths. Unfortunately, other types, like terrycloth, can hold lint or other small particles that could end up making streaks on your mirror.

Not only is a microfiber cloth going to leave your mirror streak-free, but it can also remove 99% of the bacteria on a surface! This makes it an efficient and hygienic option.

Try a Squeegee

A squeegee removes suds from glass revealing a blue background
While they’re typically used on windows, some people find that a squeegee works best for a streak-free finish on mirrors, too. First, you’ll want to spray your cleaning solution onto the mirror. Try to get an even coverage without using too much; remember, you want to avoid excess soapiness from commercial products.

Next, take your squeegee and move it in an “S” pattern from the top of the mirror to the bottom of the mirror. You can either do this in small sections, if you have a big mirror, or cover the whole mirror in one sweep if it’s smaller.

Since the squeegee will collect more and more solution as you work your way down, you will find that the solution drips and runs off the bottom of the mirror. Make sure to wipe the bottom of the mirror with a microfiber cloth immediately after you’ve reached it. Wipe up any other drips as well.

Don’t Overdo It With the Cleaning Spray

It goes without saying that not just any household cleaner is the right choice for cleaning your mirrors. You definitely want a product made for the job. However, what many people don’t realize is that less is more.

Whether you made your own cleaner or are using a commercial product, you don’t want to use so much spray that it drips down your mirror. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that store-bought cleaners can be a bit soapy, so using too much can actually lead to streaking. Secondly, dripping glass cleaner means more work for you, as you’ll have to wipe it up!

Therefore, be conservative with how many times you spray your mirror with cleaner. You can hold your spray bottle further away to prevent dripping and create a more even mist over your mirror. You could also spray directly into your microfiber cloth instead.

Watch Your Technique

The best way to clean a mirror is from top to bottom using a “Z” motion. You want to start in the left-hand corner and move all the way across to the right. Then, bring your cloth down and go back the way you came until you reach the other side of the mirror. Continue this motion until you’ve finished your cleaning.

Make sure to avoid using circular motions. If you do have any dirt or oil still on your mirror, circular motions are more likely to spread it around and cause streaks.

Though we’ve used the alcohol or vinegar solution to clean up dirt and grime, you should try to lead with the same edge of the cloth to prevent dirt from being spread around. If your cloth is large enough, you can fold it into a square, use one side, flip it over and use the other side, then unfold it and use the clean sides.

Give Your Mirror a Final Inspection

Whether you prefer a microfiber cloth or a squeegee as your tool of choice, if you truly want a streak-free, smudge-free finish, then you’ll need to take a good look at your mirror after the initial cleaning. You may have missed a spot!

If so, simply give it a gentle spray (or spray your cloth) and go back in. You shouldn’t have to redo the whole mirror, just touch up any leftover smudges. And with that, you’re done! You should have a mirror so clean that guests will be asking how you got it so shiny.

Finally, a Streak-Free Mirror!

Whether you’re fixing your hair, trying to see if there’s something in your eye, or simply admiring your appearance, there’s nothing more annoying than a dirty mirror. Dirt and grime make it pretty difficult to see what we’re trying to see, and it isn’t exactly the cutest filter for a mirror-selfie.

Cleaning a mirror can be somewhat frustrating when you can’t seem to get rid of streaks, no matter how hard you try. However, now that you know the right tools and techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy a streak-free mirror every day.