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How to Clean Glass and Mirrors Without Streaks

How to Clean Glass and Mirrors Without Streaks

Why is getting streak-free glass and mirrors such a challenge? You spend the money on specific products and take the time to clean the surfaces as per the instructions, only to be disappointed with the results. Every. Single. Time.

You’re not the only one.

Getting glass and mirrors streak-free is one of the more frustrating cleaning tasks for cleaning pros and enthusiasts.

Well, keep reading because we’ll explain exactly why you get streaks on mirrors and glass, and show you how to clean them so you get a perfect finish every time.

Why Glass and Mirrors Are Streaky

The top reasons why the glass and mirrors you clean are streaky typically boil down to these four things:

            1. Failure to pre-clean the surface.
            2. Ineffective cleaning solution.
            3. Ineffective tool.
            4. You’re doing it wrong.

Let’s dive into each one.

1. Failure to Pre-Clean the Surface

It’s a no-brainer that dirty glass and mirrors can cause streakiness if not cleaned properly. This is especially true in kitchens, bathrooms, or on a car’s exterior windows because it’s where you’ll find the most stuck-on, grimey soils.

To clean the surface properly, it’s important to identify the dirt first. Here are the most common glass and mirrored surfaces and soils, and how to clean them.


One of the most time-consuming tasks when cleaning a house or office is the windows. Not only can it be tedious, but it’s frustrating when you spend time meticulously wiping over each pane of glass only to come back later and see streaks everywhere.

Most window washers will use a solution of distilled water and detergent with a squeegee, which is great for water stains and dust. But a squeegee can’t scrub stuck-on soils, like bug residue and mud.

A good quality microfiber towel, on the other hand, is excellent at spot cleaning and lifting off any soil. Just use it damp or with a detergent solution.

Kitchen Glass

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s fire, there’s sometimes steam and grease. Glass surfaces located near your kitchen stovetop, such as windows, are highly susceptible to being splattered with cooking residue during meal preparation.

The best way to remove this oily residue is to use a high-quality microfiber towel with detergent and warm water. Detergent cuts through oils and fats on your dishes, so it will also work on glass.

Bathroom Mirror

The mirror in your bathroom is prone to daily smatterings of lotions, toothpaste, and even bodily fluids (ick!), most of which are oil-based.

As mentioned above, the best way to remove oils and grease is to use a detergent with microfiber.

Household Mirrors

The mirrors throughout your home are dust and fingerprint magnets, but generally easy to clean — as long as you’re using the right supplies.

A high-grade microfiber duster is a great tool for picking up any fine dust particles, and a damp microfiber towel will lift off smudges and fingerprints in a flash.

Car Exterior Windows

Bug guts, dirt and dust, and flecks of mud are regularly found on the exterior of car windows. The stuck-on soils, particularly bug residue, can be especially difficult to remove the longer you leave it on there, which is a pain when you’re trying to achieve spotless glass.

Use vinegar or a specific bug remover solution found in hardware stores to dissolve the little buggers, followed by a plastic scraper. For other soils, warm soapy water and a microfiber towel should do the trick.

Car Interior Windows

Your car’s interior windows should be a cinch to clean because they don’t usually get soiled with various types of grime and dirt as the exterior does. At most, they’ll likely have fingerprints. It’s also very common for the windshield to get what’s known as window haze, which isn’t difficult to clean but can make it harder to get a crystal-clear finish.

To remove fingerprints and foggy residue, all you need is a damp microfiber towel — that’s it. You don’t even need detergent. The fibers of your microfiber towel are effective enough to lift any residue, leaving your windshield clear of soils.

Tip: If you’ve got any sticker residue on the interior of your windshield, saturate it with orange oil from the hardware store, then use a plastic scraper to get it off. Then follow the above instructions to ensure no residue remains.

Once They’re Clean

Now the surface is clean, it’s time for the finishing touch. To make any of these surfaces truly spotless and sparkling, follow up with a polishing cloth like our Microfiber Glass Cleaning Cloth.  

Ours is constructed from flat-woven microfiber, unlike the plush terry of the microfiber you used to clean the surface. This enables the towel to polish and shine and leave no traces of lint behind.

It’s truly a perfect glass towel.

woman wearing yellow rubber gloves spray and wiping a mirror with blue spray

2. Ineffective Cleaning Solution

There are hundreds of different glass and mirror cleaning solutions available, and more than 99% of them don’t work as expected.

The most common products are glass cleaners like Windex, which contain ammonia or alcohol. But these products can actually make glass look much worse than before you started.

Why is this?

It’s one of two reasons:

        1. You didn’t clean the surface first.
        2. The cleaner evaporated before you had time to wipe it down properly.

Always clean your surface thoroughly following the advice in the first section above. And avoid using alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners, if possible.

Also try not to clean glass in direct sunlight or under a light, as this speeds up the evaporation of the cleaning solution.

The best cleaning solution for your glass and mirrors

will almost always be detergent and water.

Man wearing yellow rubber gloves using paper towel to clean a mirror

3. Ineffective Tool

Another reason why your glass and mirrors are streaky is that the tool you used is ineffective. There are many things you could use, but some of the most common — and ineffective — are paper towels, newspaper, and old rags.

Paper towels are a staple in many people’s cleaning arsenal, but they create lint and they also leave streaks and dirt behind.

Newspaper might have been the go-to glass cleaning tool 50 years ago. But these days, the paper isn’t as soft and the inks are different, making it harder to get that streak-free finish.

Old rags are another common tool but are typically random fabrics that mostly just spread soils around.

The best thing to do here is to ditch all of these and get microfiber towels. Our Microfiber Glass Cleaning Kit is ideal. It has a green plush multi-purpose microfiber towel for cleaning surfaces, and a blue lint-free flat woven microfiber cloth for polishing.


4. You’re Doing it Wrong

The fourth reason you’re getting streaks after cleaning your glass or mirror is that your technique may be ineffective. If you’re wiping over the mirror in an erratic or uneven motion, it’s likely affecting the outcome.

The best technique to clean your mirror is to use a circular motion to remove smaller, more caked-on soils. And a side-to-side motion when cleaning the entire mirror, starting from the top, keeping the motion smooth and rhythmic, and working your way down.

hand in yellow glove cleaning soapy mirror using yellow cloth

Stop Over-Complicating Glass Cleaning

To achieve streak-free glass and mirrors, don’t over-complicate it. You don’t need to spend money every year on products. You just need microfiber glass cleaning towels, detergent, and warm water.

Following the steps in this post will ensure your glass and mirrors are perfectly polished every single time, with minimal effort and zero frustration.


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