Guests might not notice the dust on your bookshelves or the dirt on your baseboards, but they will notice the streaks on your mirrors. We do live in the age of the selfie, after all.
So, we asked: Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the right way to make you sparkle and all?
The mirror hasn’t responded, but cleaning expert Anda Tanaka of Minneapolis-based Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service had a few things to say on the topic. She shares her professional routine for making mirrors sparkle, streak-free:
1. Prep the Mirror for Cleaning
Dusting the mirror is a critical first step, Tanaka says, as streaking can happen when dust is moved around the mirror during cleaning. She always cleans from top to bottom, which means she starts by wiping down items above the mirror that might hold dust, such as light fixtures. Next, she dusts the mirror using a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
2. Don’t Overdo It With Product
Too much of a good thing applies to cleaning mirrors too. Tanaka says that using excess products is one of the most common amateur mistakes. “If you use too much liquid it can become trapped behind the mirror’s glass and cause unsightly black spots on its surface,” she explains. “So be sure to use a very, very fine sprayer; or apply a small amount of the cleaner directly to the cloth instead of the mirror’s surface.”
As for which type of cleaner to use, Tanaka recommends environmentally friendly glass cleaner or distilled white vinegar, since anything with too much detergent can cause streaking.
She says vinegar is especially great for when there’s product buildup—such as from toothpaste or hairspray—on a mirror. (A telltale sign of buildup is a hazy appearance). And there’s no need to dilute it. She simply pours the vinegar into a spray bottle or dabs a bit directly on her cleaning cloth. Then, she carefully sprays or applies it evenly across the mirror’s surface. What’s her tried-and-true, streak-free cleaning cloth? A cloth diaper.
3. Buff in an S-shape
After she applies the cleaner to the mirror, it’s time to buff. Tanaka sticks to the s-shape: “Wipe from side to side using overlapping strokes—taking care to not miss any spots—from top to bottom,” she says.
She’s careful to keep a dry piece of the cloth diaper facing out while buffing. “I try to get the mirror as dry as possible right away so there’s no time for water spots to appear,” she says.
4. Check Your Work
Once the cleaning and buffing are complete, Tanaka checks the mirror at all angles and looks twice at the corners and edges. And if there’s natural light in the room, she’ll turn off the light first. “Streaks and smudges are way more obvious this way,” she says.
5. Maintain the Sparkle
If a mirror isn’t in a bathroom, chances are it won’t get too dirty too quickly. For hall mirrors and the like, Tanaka recommends an occasional spot check, noting most times they need only a quick dust with a dry rag. (This may not apply if you have kids or dogs.) “Since mirrors are a vertical surface, they won’t collect too much dust,” she says. “In most cases, I check barely used mirrors every month.”
Bathroom mirrors, however, are another story. “Toothpaste gets so stuck onto mirrors—and hairspray!” Tanaka cries. She recommends keeping these mirrors streak-free by stepping outside of the bathroom to use hairspray and doing your best to control your family members’ tooth-brushing practices. Tanaka also suggests using a fan in your bathroom to keep moisture (i.e., water spots) down, and to remove any bits of toothpaste as soon as you see them with your cleaner or water. “When it’s been on there for a while, it’s harder to get off,” she says.
So follow these expert tips from Tanaka and get ready for streak-free mirrors. Your guests will be sure to notice the sparkle.