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Flat Glass Mirrors

Mirrors provide both functional and aesthetic performance in the interior design for today’s homes, office buildings, schools, medical and institutional facilities. In addition to the function of providing reflected images, mirrors are being use to move natural light further into buildings and enhance the openness of rooms. Proper cleaning procedures must be followed to ensure the long-term performance of mirrors.

Care and Cleaning of Mirrors
Many people are unaware of how to properly care for and clean the mirrors in their homes and offices. Many cleaning products make claims to be the best for mirrors. The truth is the care and cleaning of mirrors is simple and inexpensive. Care should always be taken to avoid getting the edges of the mirror wet with any liquid or substance. This can result in damage to the mirror edges, commonly called “black edge”. Should mirror edges become wet, they should be dried off immediately.

The following are recommendations from manufacturers of quality mirrors:

  • The very best and safest cleaner for a mirror is clean, warm water used with a soft, lintfree cloth. Wring all water from the cloth before wiping the mirror. Dry the mirror immediately with a dry lint-free cloth.
  • Don’t use acid or alkali cleaners for mirror cleanup after installation. Either substance can attack the front surface and edges as well as the backing of the mirror. No abrasive cleaners should ever be used on any mirror surface.
  • Don’t spray cleaners directly on the mirror. Always apply cleaner directly to a soft, lintfree cloth and then wipe the mirror. This will help prevent the cleaner from contacting the edges of the mirror and damaging them.
  • Don’t clean across the face of multiple mirrors at the same time. When cleaning several mirrors installed on a wall, wipe the joints in the same direction as the joints. This will keep the cleaner from collecting in the area where the mirrors join.
  • Don’t use commercial mirror cleaners that contain ammonia or vinegar.
  • Do use 0000 oil-free steel wool, not solvents, to remove surface marks or stubborn dirt. Use of solvents can attack and damage the edges and backing of mirrors.
  • Do use soft, lint and grit free cloths to clean a mirror. This reduces the chances of scratching the mirror surface
  • The last step to cleaning a mirror is to make sure all joints and edges are dry so that no liquid or cleaner comes into contact with the edges and backing.

Transparent Mirror Products
Transparent / two way mirror products allow vision through one direction while giving the appearance of a standard mirror on the opposite side. These applications typically expose the coated surface to the mirrored room. With the exception of the 0000 oil-free steel wool procedures, the cleaning procedures provided above also apply to cleaning the coated glass surface. In addition, extreme care must be taken to ensure that no hard objects such as rings or metal surfaces of cleaning equipment contact the coated surface. Permanent damage to the coated surface may result from improper cleaning procedures.

Construction Site Conditions
Mirror products must be protected during construction site storage and installation. Mirrors should be stored in a dry, well ventilated area, free of chemical fumes and away from high heat sources such as steam or water pipes. Exposure to excessive moisture or harmful construction materials can result in hard to remove surface conditions. Mirrors should be the last materials to be installed. Care needs to be taken that sprayed material such as wall texture or adhesives for wall covering have completely cured before mirror installation. If conditions are found that cannot be cleaned using the above procedures, contact the mirror supplier for guidelines for construction debris removal.

Failure to properly clean mirrors can result in damage to the mirrored surface and deterioration of the optical quality of the mirror reflectance.

GANA Provides Additional Information
Members of the Mirror Division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) encourage, home owners, construction trades, general contractors, building owners and facility maintenance
staff to be aware of proper cleaning procedures for mirrors and conditions that can adversely affect long-term performance.

Consult the GANA Mirror Division website (www.mirrorlink.org) for additional resources on mirror products and links to members providing additional technical resources.

The Mirror Division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) has produced this Mirror Informational Bulletin solely to provide general information as to the proper procedures for cleaning mirror products. The Bulletin does not purport to state that any one particular type cleaning process or procedure should be used in all applications or even in any specific application. The user of this Bulletin has the responsibility to ensure the cleaning procedures from the mirror supplier are followed. GANA disclaims any responsibility for any specific results related to the use of this Bulletin, for any errors or omissions contained in the Bulletin, and for any liability for loss or damage of any kind arising out of the use of this Bulletin.

This bulletin was developed by the GANA Mirror Division – Technical Committee and approved by the Mirror Division membership and the GANA Board of Directors. This is the original version of the document as approved and published in January 2005.