Mirrors are silvery pieces of decorating magic. You can instantly add visual impact to the room simply by hanging a framed mirror on the wall or leaning an oversized mirror at a previously ignored corner of the room. However, mirrors need regular maintenance and cleaning to keep their shining, silvery and streak-free splendor.
Use the right cleaning supplies. Since mirrors are made of glass, wiping it with water will not do. There are glass cleaners that are specially designed to get rid of streaks and splotches, and will also work to prevent additional streaks. Now, if you do not have glass cleaner on hand, you can also mix some water with detergent or vinegar, place the mixture in a spray bottle and use this to clean. You also should not use a rag, especially old and scratched ones as these can do more damage and scratch or smear the surface of the mirror. Rather, some old newspapers or tissue will work better.
Spray on the cleaning cloth. Do not spray directly on the mirror as the cleaning chemicals can run off and damage the wood frames. Rather, spray on the cleaning cloth. Or, if you are using old newspapers, crumple them and dip them in the cleaning solution.
Check cleanliness from other angles. Looking straight at the mirror, you may think that it is already cleaned. However, if you check from a 45-degree angle, there may still be streaks and watermarks that were not fully removed.
Keep the mirror dry. Water damage can wreak permanent havoc to mirrors. This is especially true for moist or humid areas such as the bathroom. Wipe the mirror immediately.
Hang mirrors in secure areas. The mirror should be hung securely and kept away from high-movement locations such as near the door (where the door can bang on the mirror and break it).
Cleaning an antique mirror
Now, an antique mirror will need more tender loving care than newer mirrors. Antique mirrors can come in many forms – framed round mirrors, ornate oval mirrors or oversized rectangular ones. Antique mirrors are more delicate and more vulnerable to damage. Remove the mirror from its frame very, very carefully. To do this, use a flat-bladed tool such as a small knife or a screwdriver. Do wear a pair of soft gloves during the cleaning process to prevent oils from your fingers to transfer to the mirror and to protect your hands from scratches.
Once you have pried the mirror glass from its frame, carefully transfer it to a table lined with a thick towel. Use warm water mixed with mild soap to clean the mirror. Air-dry or wipe with a lint-free cloth. Now, when you are cleaning the mirror, remember that this is an antique mirror and there will be foggy parts and dark spots on the mirror. Do not be tempted to try to get rid of these spots, as this may do damage since the foggy areas and dark spots may be a result of the passage of time. One option is for you to have the mirror re-silvered to restore the shine and remove any spots.
While you are waiting for the mirror to dry, use a dry soft cloth to wipe away any dust and grime that may have collected in the nooks and crannies of the frame. You may apply protective backing such as black acrylic paint on the underside of the mirror. Let dry for at least 24 hours. Once the mirror is dry, return it to its frame.