How to Clean Mirrors Without Streaks – For A Spotless Reflection

I may earn a commission from links in this post. Thank you!

What’s the point in spending a fortune on a mirror if you let that beautiful optical glass get hidden in streaks, fingerprints, powder and dust?

Trying to do your makeup in a mirror covered in smudges can leave you frustrated. And too often, no matter how much time you spend cleaning a bathroom, your mirror doesn’t get the care it deserves.

Let’s change that right now.

Why Do Mirrors Streak When Cleaned?

In essence, anything that transfers any type of oil or wax onto the mirror will cause streaks or haziness.

  • Grease spots such as fingerprints, toothpaste spatter and makeup
  • Using general household detergent cleaners (sudsing)
  • Using waxy polish (or scented products)
  • Too little OR too much cleaning product
  • Dirty cloths (even fabric softener can cause streaks)

Debunking Myths 

If you’re looking for the best way to clean a mirror without streaking, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of contradictory tips online. There are plenty of methods out there that are ineffective and outdated.

Here is some key information to keep in mind before setting out to clean your mirrors.

Avoid Outdated Tools

You may have heard that newspapers are the most effective cleaning tool for a streak-free mirror. While this tactic may have worked in the past, the quality of newspaper ink has changed over the years. Modern ink will rub off, leaving marks on your mirrors.

Similarly, paper towels can leave behind residue and lint, and should also be avoided to help achieve clear glass.

Find the Right Cleaning Solution

Many store-bought solutions contain too much soap or dyes that will leave frustrating and persistent streaking on your mirrors. This guide will go over some of the most recommended store-bought products, as well as homemade solutions that will help you avoid excess residue on your surfaces.

Don’t Overdo Cleaning Products

When cleaning your mirror, you may feel you need more cleaning solution for a cleaner surface. However, soaking the mirror with a solution will cause drips and excess product that is difficult to wipe away entirely. 

So, How Do You Clean a Mirror Like A Pro?

Before getting started, make sure you prepare your materials. Here’s what you’ll need on hand for the best results:

  • An old soft toothbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Glass cleaner (bought or homemade)
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Spray bottle
  • A clean microfiber cloth

A Step-By-Step Guide for a Flawless Reflection

Once you’ve gotten your materials together, you’re ready to follow these steps.

Spot Clean Your Mirror

Over time, cosmetics, beauty products, toothpaste, and more can splatter and gather on your mirror, causing stains and grime across the surface.

Scan your mirror for any noticeable stains or spots. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or cotton pad and wipe away any visible marks or smudges. This will help remove any sticky residue and grease from hairspray and beauty products that may have gotten onto your mirror. 

It’s also easy for dirt and gunk to gather in the corners, which we often miss while cleaning mirrors. Using an old toothbrush, scrub away any residue in the corner and along the edges. 

Prepare a Glass Cleaning Solution

For this step, you’ll need to either purchase or make an effective glass cleaning solution. Both store-bought and homemade solutions offer plenty of options for a clean, streak-free mirror. If you’ve been using the wrong products and your mirrors are hazy, then an initial wipe with very hot water will work wonders at lifting the residue.

Store-Bought Cleaners

If you’re buying a store-bought cleaner for your mirrors, make sure to opt for one without any unnecessary additives that will cause grime to build up. Excess amounts of soaps and dyes aren’t needed in a glass cleaner and can leave streaks that will stick.

While citrus or floral scents may be tempting, these scents can leave a residue that is difficult to wipe off, leaving you just as frustrated with hazy mirrors. Before purchasing a product, ensure that there are no unnecessary, ineffective additives.

Homemade Cleaners

It is quite feasible to clean mirrors without Windex, using a simple homemade glass cleaner made from everyday products around your home. 

White vinegar can be highly beneficial in eliminating grime and leaving streak-free mirrors and works even better than many store-bought cleaners. For a DIY cleaning solution, just mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and hot water in a spray bottle. You can also add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture to help break down any remaining grease or oil. This works well on glass windows too.

Spray Your Mirror With Your Solution

From a short distance away, spray the mirror with your cleaning solution. Lightly mist the whole surface, making sure the mirror is damp but not soaked.

Spraying too close to the mirror or too much of the product will cause it to drip down before you can wipe it away, leading to streaks. An excess of product can also leave behind more residue and prevent your mirror from being as clean as possible.

Wipe the Cleaning Product with Microfiber Cloths

The best cloth to clean mirrors (and windows) is microfibre (Amazon recommendation), preferably flat weave. Microfibers attach themselves to tiny particles of dirt and grime that rags and towels miss, lifting all the residue that causes streaks as you wipe the mirror.

Fold the cloth into quarters. By refolding when one area gets damp you get 8 new sides to work with.

Using a clean dry surface wipe away the cleaning product in a single, swift motion. 

While wiping away the solution, the technique you use can also make a huge difference. Instead of circular motions, use a zig zag pattern to move from one side of the mirror to the other, top to bottom, until you have wiped away all the product.

The Best Microfiber Cloth

For light dirt, a microfiber cloth alone is your best option. I use the Ultimate Cloth, which works using water only. Simply wet it, squeeze firmly, and wipe slowly. So you don’t need to worry about choosing a cleaning solution!

Products To Avoid Streaks? 

With so many cleaners advertising a streak free finish, narrowing down which ones are most effective can be challenging. Here is a guide to some of the most worthwhile choices that you can find online.

The Best Streak-Free Products on Amazon

Windex Vinegar Glass and Window CleanerA vinegar-based cleaner that leaves a streak-free finish on mirrors, glass, and appliancesA well-known and well-trusted company
Doesn’t leave streaks
Affordable price
Vinegar fragrance can be overpowering if used a lot in small areas
HOPE’S Perfect Glass Cleaning SprayA streak-free glass cleaner designed to eliminate residue with less wipingDoesn’t leave streaks
Leaves a less hazy finish than other cleaners
Less effective in removing grease from other types of surfaces
Aunt Fannie’s Glass and Window Cleaning Vinegar WashA streak-free, vinegar-based wash made of natural and family-safe ingredientsDoesn’t leave streaks
Family and pet safe Natural ingredients
Leaves a lingering vinegar scent
Affiliate links to

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Options

Many household cleaners contain ingredients that are harmful to humans and the environment. 

If you’re looking for a greener, more environmentally safe option, there are plenty of ways to make a natural, homemade glass cleaner. With just vinegar, water, dish soap, and rubbing alcohol, you can clean your mirrors safely and successfully.

The cleaning cloth is actually the most important factor in glass cleaning. Here’s my recommended EcoFriendly microfiber Ultimate Cloth.

Many companies also offer environmentally friendly, natural cleaners that you can find in stores. Some of the best options include:

And now you know how to clean them, check out my guide to the best magnifying makeup mirrors.

How To Remove Scratches From Mirrors

Sorry to disappoint, but this is not as straightforward as you might hope. Some of the popular guides from an internet search are full of myths and will waste your time. For example, modern toothpastes do not contain abrasives. You can rub in toothpaste all day long and the scratch will remain. And clear nail polish might fill a mirror scratch but will also distort the reflection. Here’s what to do instead.

Step 1: Work out how deep is the scratch. To do this, gently run the edge of your fingernail in both directions across the scratch. The deeper the scratch, the more your nail will catch on it.

To be honest, if the scratch is deep, you’re going to be out of luck. Even if you resort to an industrial glass grinder it will leave a “wavy” or undulating reflection, which is no use for detailed makeup application.

But if you have a surface scratch that you can see, but not feel, then it’s worth trying to fix it.

Step 2: Buy a professional glass polishing compound (“jeweller’s rouge” or cerium oxide). This one (Amzn) is the most convenient. If you don’t mind mixing the solution yourself, this one is cheaper.

Step 3: Clean the mirror glass. Follow the advice earlier in this article.

Step 4: Hand polish. Apply a very small amount of paste to the scratch. Wrap a damp cloth around your fingertip and polish vigorously. Rinse and repeat a few times.

Step 5: Use a power buffer. If hand polishing isn’t working, try buffing with a soft felt pad mounted on a drill (recommended kit with powder and polishing wheel). Use plenty of water, and be very patient.

If this doesn’t work, give up. Buy a new mirror instead.

Similar Posts