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Cleaning

6 tips for how to clean a mirror and wipe out streaks

Spoiler alert: Paper towels are not the answer

Woman wearing clear gloves and using spray bottle and cloth to wipe off mirror. Credit: Getty Images / Filadendron

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Having mirrors in your home provides not only a personal touch to each room, it can make a space look much bigger than it really is. From round, farmhouse styles to elaborately gilded and vintage-looking, there are countless choices to make your house feel more like a home. There’s just one catch: cleaning them can be terribly frustrating.

When it comes to this big question—how to clean a mirror—experts recommend tackling them once a week, but who among us has totally overlooked this task during a Saturday morning cleaning sesh?

If you’re like me and tend to put off cleaning your mirrors, it may be because you haven’t yet found the best method for doing so. While many of us are used to the ol’ paper towel and Windex routine, there are a few tweaks you can make to get an even better streak-free shine.

Here are some tried-and-true tips for getting your mirrors lint-free and totally, squeaky clean.

Tip 1: Don’t use paper towels

Hand pulling single paper towel off of roll.
Credit: Getty Images / Mehmet Onur Bozkurt

The secret to a streak-free mirror starts with ditching traditional paper towels.

The biggest no-no when it comes to getting your mirrors sparkly clean is to omit the one thing most of us are usually use: paper towels.

Paper towels are both single-use and leave teeny tiny bits of residue that can create an even bigger mess. Plus, some paper towels and their textures can often create the kinds of streaks that you're trying to avoid, cancelling out any kind of “streak-free” cleaning product you may be using.

Tip 2: Instead, use a flat-weave microfiber cloth

On left, stack of multi-colored neutral colored microfiber cloths. On right, hand wearing yellow rubber glove using microfiber cloth to wipe off glass surface.
Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond / Getty Images / Didesign021

Microfiber cloths require much less elbow grease, and a produce a faster drying time as an added bonus.

In order to achieve a streak-free shine, use a microfiber cloth in place of other kinds of material.

A flat-weave microfiber cloth is the best bet to save time and energy when it comes to making sure your mirror is spotless. Flat-weave cloths ensure that no annoying debris can get left behind since nothing can cling onto it. Its texture also helps the mirror dry much faster.

Get the The Original Microfiber Cleaning Towels from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $9.99

Tip 3: Use rubbing alcohol to spot clean first

On left, isopropyl alcohol sitting on bathroom counter next to cotton balls and q-tips.
Credit: Walmart / Greenzla

Is your mirror covered in toothpaste splatter and old hairspray residue? Don't feel guilty, Greenzla's reusable cotton pads will come to your rescue.

Before you even begin to clean your mirror as a whole, take the time to scour the surface for any blobs of toothpaste or other dried splatters. These areas should be cleaned before and separately from the rest of the mirror so as not to spread them around and make a bigger mess.

With some rubbing alcohol and a small cotton pad (much like those you’d use for toner on your face), gently rub each smear until gone from the surface. Just move quickly: rubbing alcohol dries fast.

Tip 4: Swipe in a squiggle pattern

Woman using yellow rubber gloves and spray bottle cleaning solution to wipe a mirror.
Credit: Getty Images / Photographer

It's all about the "squiggle" technique.

Even with a microfiber cloth, the way in which you clean the mirror can also account for how clean it ends up looking.

Instead of wiping from top to bottom over and over (or haphazardly circling, which is my go-to) try using a squiggle swiping pattern that makes sure you don’t miss any spots. Here’s what that means:

Begin at the top left corner of the mirror, and then drag your cloth all the way across to the top right corner. Inch down a bit, then swipe in the opposite direction back across to the left side again. Repeat this pattern until you zig-zag all the way down to the bottom. This method allows you to clean every inch, plus it further helps you to lessen any streaks.

Tip 5: Make your own glass cleaner

Green spray bottle, next to bottle of vinegar, and green and blue sponge.
Credit: Getty Images / Helin Loik-Tomson

Making your own glass cleaner is easier, and probably a bit safer than harsh store-bought chemicals.

If you’re all about using natural products in your home, or simply want to try something new, there’s a way to make your own glass cleaner using a couple of standard household items.

First, you can try mixing up some vinegar and water. The ideal ratio is one part distilled vinegar to 10 parts warm water. Combine both into a spray bottle, and you’ve got a simple and easy solution to cleaning your mirrors.

If you’re out of vinegar or don’t feel like running to the store, you can also use black tea. Yes, really! Black tea’s tannic acid is a potent natural cleaner that gets the job done just as easily as any other cleaner. Just brew the tea and let it cool for about an hour; you can then transfer the tea to a spray bottle or damp cloth.

Tip 6: Check the mirror at an angle

Woman using rubber gloves and a microfiber cloth to wipe off mirror.
Credit: Getty Images / Zoff-photo

After buffing out any leftover streaks, your sparkling new mirror will deserve some serious admiration.

Once you’ve cleaned your mirror, and it's gleaming, do one last check. Make sure you’ve got every little dust speck by looking at the mirror from an angle (if you can). At a 45-degree angle, you can see streaks or little fibers you wouldn’t be able to see when looking straight on. If anything illuminates that you want to get rid of, just spot clean by spraying your cloth with a small amount of cleaner and quickly wipe the streak away before buffing it dry.

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