How to Clean Mirrors (and Windows!) with Streak-Free Results Every Time
If you want a crystal-clear view of the world outside your home, you need to clean your windows. The same goes for mirrors. A smudge-free mirror, without finger prints and toothpaste droplets, gives us a better view of, well, us—and ultimately makes a room feel more polished. Cleaning both mirrors and windows, however, poses a common problem: streaks. To effectively wash both without leaving behind any streaks, grab a pair of rubber gloves and follow the expert tips below—they'll make the job easier.
Use plain water in a spray bottle.
All those cleaning products with chemical names you can't pronounce? They are unnecessary in the fight against streaks. Believe it or not, it's best to turn on the tap water when it's time to clean windows and mirrors. You don't even need vinegar or any kind of enhancer—hot water in a clean spray bottle works well.
Opt for microfiber cloths.
Microfiber, a nonabrasive material that's machine-washable, is the best cleaning textile to use, says Donna Smallin Kuper, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple ($12.60, amazon.com) and a certified home cleaning technician. "They clean beautifully without streaking and with no lint residue that you get with paper towels," she says. For the best results, use a microfiber cloth with a fine weave for cleaning glass. If you fold the cloth in half, then fold it in half again, and then again, you'll have eight clean quarters to work with.
Clean mirrors thoroughly.
After you fold your cloth into eight quarters, spritz one folded side with water, and wipe the mirror around the edges as you work your way in to the center. For a very dirty mirror, repeat with a new folded quarter of the cloth. "Because you're just spritzing the cloth, the mirror will dry quickly," explains Kuper. Look at the mirror from different angles; if you see a small spot or streak, clean that area again.
Clean windowsills before windows.
Since dirt and grime can collect on windowsills, clean them first by vacuuming and then wiping with a general-purpose microfiber cloth that you wet and wring out; if you prefer, use a damp sponge instead. Then follow the mirror cleaning steps above.
Avoid paper towels and newspaper.
Though they're traditional cleaning products, they're not the best choices. Paper towels leave dust particles behind, and newspaper creates ink residue.
Wash the cloths.
Kuper advises washing all microfiber cloths together in hot water, and then either air drying or running them through your machine on the delicate cycle. "If you wash them with other materials, lint will get trapped in the tentacles of the microfiber, which will result in poor performance." If properly washed, the cloths should give you up to 50 uses.