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How to Clean an Old Antique Mirror & Frame

Cleaning a mirror can be painful at the best of times. With strips and smudges being hard to get out entirely. Over time, dirt, dust and finger-marks make their way onto all of our household’s reflective surfaces. If your home or living space contains an antique mirror, cleaning without ruining the surface is a concern. Generally, older mirrors are covered with a silver or mercury layer. Foggy, smudged or darkened areas can, if you are an optimist, add to the aesthetics, but for those of you who like your surfaces spotless – it can be an issue.

Cleaning an antique mirror is slightly more time consuming than your average hallway garment, but it is far from impossible and not that difficult. This guide will lay out the best steps to take.

What You’ll Need 

1.Rubbing alcohol (ethanol, methyl, ethyl or isopropyl alcohol work best)

2. Jug of water

3. Newspaper

4. White vinegar

5. A spray bottle

6. Shaving cream

7. A microfiber cloth

Cleaning Old Antique Mirror Glass 

To get those old finger smudges off the surface of the glass, you want to avoid any strong chemicals. Shop bought cleaners can often be unnatural, harsh, and might leave your glass with new streaks that, no matter how hard you try, will not come off. We suggest creating your own cleaner.

Here, mix:

  • one cup of your rubbing alcohol
  • a teaspoon of white vinegar
  • one cup of water

You will be left with the perfect, if not a little smelly, natural glass cleaner. The benefit of this cleaner is that it evaporates far more quickly than shop bought cleaners. Make sure you have mixed the mixture well before popping it into your spray bottle and using it, plus your microfiber cloth, to clean the surface.

Be Warned: Do not use an abrasive substance such as baking soda. This could damage your mirror easily, stick with our homemade concoction!

Cleaning a Layer of Dirt or Film off of Old Mirrors

We all do it, go through old belongings, in the garage or loft to find an amazing antique or distressed mirror we thought we’d misplaced. Well luckily, there’s a way to get more resilient layers of dirt off of glass surfaces too.

Follow these simple tips:

1. Get your spray bottle, newspaper and white vinegar. Pop the vinegar into the container before you begin.

2. Now spray the vinegar over the surface making sure to give it quite a liberal covering. Note: if your frame is wooden, do try to avoid spraying it with vinegar. It is not a good idea to clean wood with pure, undiluted vinegar. It could leave watermarks or eat certain kinds of finishes; due to the acid present in the solution.

3. Next, time to rub. Get your newspaper and rub the dirt or film off the affected surface. You should aim for a nice shiny exterior.

4. Now grab your shaving cream. Spray it over the surface.

5. With your microfiber cloth (cleaned of course) wipe it over the surface. Not only will this give your mirror another level of shine, but it will also eliminate any fogginess while leaving a coating which can blog fogging for around a month.

6. Now, finally, pure water on your microfiber cloth to give the mirror a rub down.

Note: Try to avoid the temptation of wiping the mirror clean with a tea towel – you are much likelier to leave marks this way.

Time to Clean the Frame 

If, like us, you are a perfectionist; then it’s time to clean the frame. As mentioned before, be careful about the cleaning material you chose to use for this. Many shop-bought, or overly strong, solutions could leave marks or damage an antique frame.

We would suggest using your microfiber cloth and plain water in this instance. Better safe than sorry! Of course, if your frame is a protected wood – get some polish on it!

Wish you had an Antique Mirror to Clean?

Here at Osborn Glass, we stock a wide variety of differently coloured antique mirrors. Our made to measure mirrors add an extra level of antique or vintage style to rooms or surfaces. Call us, or enquire today to learn more.

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