Interior Design

How to clean a mirror without streaks – according to the experts

Wondering how to clean a mirror without streaks? These are the steps to a spotless finish, fast

A living room mirror idea with an oversized mirror leant against the wall
(Image credit: Mark Luscombe-Whyte)

Knowing how to clean a mirror without streaks may seem like a seamlessly easy process. However, achieving a spotless finish can be trickier than it initially sounds. A streak-free appearance comes down to many factors, including your chosen product, cloth, and cleaning pattern – so how can you get it right and keep them sparkling?

Expert advice is the best place to begin. Whether your bathroom built-ins are in need of a refresh or you want to maintain your statement mirror in your entryway, these cleaning tips are for you.  

How to clean a mirror without streaks?  

Vintage french mirrors

(Image credit: Future)

Effective cleaning will make the most of decorating with mirrors. Paige Anderson, a cleaning expert at Nitido Design (opens in new tab), shares her advice with H&G – and it will transform your mirror cleaning habits. 

1. Avoid soaps and additives

Mirror in bedroom

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Whether you are aiming to make mirrors sparkle as part of cleaning a living room, a bedroom, or elsewhere, it can be tempting to invest in fresh and floral-fragranced products, but it is better to choose a natural product with fewer contaminants. 'Use cleaning products that do not contain soaps and scents as these additives leave behind the residues that cause streaks,' Paige explains. 

Often, these soaps and additives can't evaporate and consequently leave your mirror looking even dirtier than it did before the cleaning process. 

2. Opt for a natural cleaner

entrance hall with classical bust on plinth and round mirror

(Image credit: Jake Curtis / Alyce Taylor)

So what should you use instead of soapy, scented products? If you’re tempted to use vinegar as you would for cleaning windows, don’t do it. A mirror is one of the things not to clean with vinegar because it can penetrate through to the mirror’s backing and that’s what makes it shine.

However, Michelle Hansen, a cleaning and organizing expert and owner of Practical Perfection (opens in new tab), explains that you can also clean a mirror by simply using water. 

'Not only is it cost-effective because you don't have to purchase window cleaner, but it's safer for your family and pets,' she says. 

3. Use glass cleaner on dirtier areas 

Console table on check tile floor

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

If you have hard-to-remove dirt on your mirror, it can become harder to clean – and is more likely to leave streaks. 'Instead of scrubbing hard, apply glass cleaners to those areas where the spots are and wipe them gently with a cloth,' Paige suggests. 

4.  Use a side-to-side cleaning pattern 

Paige suggests your pattern is equally as important as your tools in keeping the spots away. Her secret to success? A side-to-side cleaning pattern – instead of a circular motion. This helps bypass static electricity, which can often be created while performing circular motions. 

neutral bedroom with alcove shelving with mirrors

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

What is the best thing to clean mirrors with?

The best tool for cleaning a mirror is a microfiber cloth – as it ensures that your glass is fully dry and lint-free when you’re cleaning a bathroom or polishing mirrors elsewhere in your home.

Michelle Hansen uses these microfiber cleaning rags from Amazon (opens in new tab) and suggests that she has never seen better results in her home. 'Simply get the microfiber rag wet and squeeze out the excess water into the sink. Wipe the mirror with the microfiber cloth first, then use the other cloth to wipe it dry. [It's] super simple and easy,' the expert adds.

Do paper towels scratch mirrors?

While paper towels and tissues may be soft, they have a raw, unrefined surface that attracts dust and can encourage scratches on your glass. If you want to use a paper-based product over a microfiber cloth, home expert Cathy Abraham (opens in new tab) recommends using a newspaper. 

‘One of the best methods to clean a mirror is using just water and newspaper,’ she says. ‘Newspapers have high absorbency. So, it absorbs any dirt and water without pushing it around. As a result, you won't find any water streaks in the mirror. Take care to avoid glossy newspapers and stick to black and white prints to prevent any mess.’

To follow this method, you simply spray some water or glass cleaner on a folded newspaper and wipe the mirror thoroughly. 

Paige also discourages you from using old t-shirts or old rags as they are not created with cleaning in mind and will almost certainly leave a residue. 

Why do my mirrors streak when I clean them?

As the experts suggest, streaks are primarily caused by the wrong tools. If you're using products with soaps and additives (that are less able to evaporate) or you're wiping with a crude edge (such as those on paper towels) then you're less likely to achieve a spotless finish. 

Now you know how to clean a mirror without streaks; you can enjoy the beauty and power of your mirrors, entirely taint-free. 

Megan Slack
News Editor

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.