Can You Clean Mirrors With Alcohol? (Explained)

Mirrors are not only useful for making sure you have properly brushed your teeth or that your outfit is appropriately worn, but also simply as an added piece of decoration in the room. Mirrors can do wonders for a sense of additional lighting and elegance in a room. For that reason, it is important to establish whether a common household item like rubbing alcohol can be used to clean mirrors.

Rubbing alcohol is an excellent way to remove streaks and smears from mirrors. Using 70% isopropyl alcohol will certainly ensure that there is no residue if used correctly. Dabbing away with a wet cotton wipe will ensure your mirror stays sparkling clean.

One thing you do not want to do is ruin your mirror or spend money on the wrong products when searching for decent mirror-cleaning tools. Often you can find these magical stain removers right under your kitchen sink and rubbing alcohol may be your new favorite cleaner!

Can You Clean Mirrors With Alcohol

Why Use Rubbing Alcohol To Clean Mirrors?

Rubbing alcohol is an effective tool to have in the house because it comes in handy in many different ways. Alcohol is particularly handy for cleaning mirrors due to its ability to clear any noticeable stains.

Using rubbing alcohol with a high enough alcohol percentage will effectively dry and clear the stains on the mirror without leaving streaks or scratches behind. By spot cleaning the stains on the mirror, you can work quite quickly and not use too much of the product each time. This is a great cost-benefit.

In comparison to other products like white vinegar or microfiber cloths, rubbing alcohol is much more effective. With distilled white vinegar you would be required to first dilute it with equal parts water before spraying the solution directly onto the mirror and then wiping it down with a cotton cloth.

This does require more effort but is still effective if you want to wipe down the whole mirror. In addition, microfiber cloths are also handy to have around because they are simple and quick to use.

These would be the best option for when the mirror is wet from a steamy shower, or perhaps a spray of mist from hairspray or air freshener. Microfiber cloths are great for cleaning up dust and should be used in even strokes to prevent smearing.

Different Ways To Clean A Mirror With Alcohol

When cleaning a mirror, it is important to remember not to wipe down the surface of a mirror before spot cleaning with the rubbing alcohol. This is an important step because if there are stains of toothpaste, shaving cream, or hairspray, these will all smear and create a bigger mess.

A more effective way of cleaning it would be by spot cleaning. This means using a cotton swab and dabbing it in your rubbing alcohol, before firmly rubbing off each stain. This method is great because it ensures that you tackle the tough stains properly instead of just wiping down the entire surface and missing the noticeable stains.

Make sure to use a cotton swab or a 100% cotton cloth when wiping down the mirror. Cotton is a much better option than paper towels because the latter would likely leave behind residue, and this would make it look like the mirror is dusty.

This is exactly why cotton and microfiber would do a much better job and collect all the dirt without smudging or leaving any additional residue behind.

On that note, the motion of wiping down the mirror should always be done in a single swift motion. This is more effective than shorter strokes and even better than a circular motion.

An easy way to do this would be by starting in one corner and wiping across to the other corner, and then in a zig-zag motion, continuing down to the bottom of the mirror. Make sure to use a clean side of the cloth each time you wipe from a different end of the mirror.

Can All Mirrors Be Cleaned With Alcohol?

Most mirrors are designed with the reflective coating behind the glass. This is known as a second surface mirror. These types of mirrors can handle the potency of strong rubbing alcohol and will not be damaged if you use the alcohol on the surface.

On the other hand, first surface mirrors have a reflective coating in front of the glass, and this makes it significantly more delicate. First surface mirrors are more likely to be damaged by rubbing alcohol if used carelessly.

If you stick to gentle spot cleaning with a cotton swab, then the mirror will be able to handle the solution. However, if you resort to wiping down the surface with a cloth and rubbing alcohol, this can cause damage to the reflective coating and thus damage the whole mirror.

Another solution would be to use an alcohol and white vinegar solution in a spray bottle. Spraying this solution onto the mirror in a thin layer will also be effective in cleaning the surface, and then it will simply evaporate without the need for wiping and risking any damage to the mirror.

Therefore, in case you have a first surface mirror, it would be safer to use the diluted vinegar and alcohol solution, as the 70% rubbing alcohol may be too strong and cause damage to your mirror.


As with most things, there are multiple different ways of cleaning a mirror and different products to accomplish this. Of course, the surface cleaner may be the first place to turn when deciding to clean a mirror because that is the intended purpose.

However, there are more options, and you can consider trying rubbing alcohol for a different method of cleaning. This is all dependent on your preference, but it is certainly appealing to know that rubbing alcohol can be used in an emergency or in case you have run out of surface cleaner.