Mirrors aren’t just for looking into to check that you don’t have spinach on your teeth and that your hair is nicely combed. They are the best thing you can use if you have a small poky place with not much natural lightning. The primary purpose of a mirror is to reflect light in all its different frequencies, conveying information about depth, colour and shape. Sometimes this depth, colour and shape will be your face, but don’t forget that a mirror placed and tilted at the right angle can reflect sunlight into a dark room or catch a nice view and act in place of a painting.
However, a mirror can only do its job of reflecting if it is clean. Too many bathroom mirrors are smeared with toothpaste splatters, hairspray and even worse mess. And mirrors in other places get covered in dust, even though it doesn’t seem logically possible that a smooth vertical surface could hold dust. And then there’s fly spots to deal with.
Mirrors are made out of glass, so they should be cleaned like glass. You can use a proprietary glass cleaner, or you can use ordinary white vinegar to clean it. Whichever house cleaning substance you prefer to use, it is best to apply it with a spray bottle (don’t use too much at once) and to buff it with a lint-free cloth or a scrunched up newspaper. Don’t use a paper tissue, because these have a tendency to disintegrate when wet, leaving scraps of paper all over your mirror, although a good quality paper towel might work well enough. void using soapy water, as this leaves a film all over the mirror that streaks.
Bathroom mirrors fog up easily. A range of remedies are suggested for preventing this happening, with ordinary shaving foam being the most popular method. Simply spray the foam on and polish the mirror with it. However, it does have the disadvantage of running after a few weeks or so, and it can be hard to clean off. Dishwashing liquid removes the shaving foam, but this does leave streaks. Possibly the stuff that streaks the mirror also prevents if from fogging, so you may have to choose between the two. Alternatively, install a dehumidifier or an extractor fan which takes the moisture out of the air so it doesn’t settle (cheapskates can open the bathroom window as an alternative). This method also works on car rear vision mirrors.
Mirrors get some of their reflective power from the silver used to back the mirrors behind the glass. This silver can be prone to tarnishing, especially in older mirrors. Tarnishing is often triggered by acids and by sulphur, so if you have a coal fire, it’s best not to hang a mirror above it, as even the best fire lighter will get a bit of smoke into the room and coal smoke contains sulphur. Moisture also aids tarnishing. A frame will help prevent these culprits getting into the backing of your mirror. All mirrors should have at least a wooden or plastic backing board to help prevent tarnishing – check before you buy.
They say if you break a mirror, you get seven years of bad luck.
While this superstition may or may not go back to the idea that the reflection somehow was your soul, so if you broke the mirror, you damaged your soul, other people have commented that a broken mirror is a nuisance to clean up, as the glass splinters have a chameleon-like ability to hide in their surroundings. To clean up bits of a broken mirror, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and start by picking up the largest pieces first. Unfortunately, not many (or not any) places take broken mirror glass for recycling. Wrap the large pieces up in old newspaper or thick cardboard to keep the folk handling the rubbish safe. Then get a hand broom and sweep around the area where the smash happened, working inwards. Splinters always fly wider than you think, so begin your sweeping at a greater radius than the “ground zero” site. Put the splinters into another wrapper for disposing, or wrap them with the larger pieces. Finish by vacuuming the whole room just to make sure. You may need to repeat this process on shelves and the like. If a mirror falls into the bath and smashes, you can flush the little pieces down the plughole instead of vacuuming and sweeping. But make sure you do it thoroughly. The glass splinters that go down the plughole will soon be battered to bits and returned to the sand from which the glass came, so don’t worry about the fish getting hurt.
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