This common mirror-cleaning mistake leaves a bunch of dirt and streaks behind.
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Keeping the mirrors in your home clean seems like a never-ending cleaning task, but no mirror gets dirtier than the bathroom mirror. Between toothpaste stains, scale, and fog, the mirror in your bathroom is bound to get filthy. But if you simply Windex the mirror with a paper towel in a circular motion, you're making a critical mistake. There are actually a few tricks to make cleaning more effective and also help you prevent fog from building up after you take a shower. Best of all, you won't have any streaks or leftover lint when you're done.

How to Clean a Mirror

It worked as a karate move, but Mr. Miyagi's "wax on, wax off" method isn't ideal for cleaning mirrors. That's because the circular motion actually re-deposits dust and debris from your cloth back onto the surface, leaving streaks. Here's what to do instead:

Windex Method

What You'll Need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Glass cleaner like Windex

Steps

  1. First, swap out your rag or paper towels (they're linty) for a thin microfiber cloth
  2. Next, spray glass cleaner or water directly on the cloth, not on the mirror directly—otherwise, liquid can seep behind the silver coating and create black tarnish marks.
  3. For the cleanest results, wipe in a tight S-pattern from top to bottom, making sure to cover the entire surface area of the mirror on your first swipe.

Paper and Vinegar Method

What You'll Need

  • Packing paper
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Steps

  1. Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle and shake well. 
  2. Fold the packing paper into a rectangle that is slightly larger than your hand. We recommend using brown packing paper instead of a newspaper since the ink can get on your hands and mirror. 
  3. Spray the cleaning mixture directly onto the packing paper. 
  4. Like the method above, wipe in an S-pattern starting at the top of the mirror and working your way down. Try not to go backward on an area you've already swiped.

NOTE: You can use packing paper with Windex or another commercial glass cleaner. You can also use the vinegar and water mixture with a microfiber cloth. If you opt to use the vinegar and water mixture, the vinegar will prevent the mirror from steaming up for about a week. To increase the de-fogging ability, spray the mixture directly on the mirror and let it sit for a minute before cleaning it off. Be careful not to let the solution seep into the sides and underneath the surface.

Keep in mind that while it is an effective cleaning solution, there are several things you should never clean with vinegar. Surfaces like stone countertops and deteriorating bathroom grout are too porous, and an abrasive cleaner like vinegar could damage the finish or seal after prolonged use.