How to Clean Black Spots on Mirrors

mirror1

Juliana asked: Black spots have been appearing on my mirror in the bathroom for several months. I have tried many methods, but still am unable to remove them. I am unable to remove this huge mirror from the wall. Please help.

There are several causes of black spots on a mirror. If the black spots are around the edges, it is likely that the cleaning product used to clean the mirror has gotten behind the glass and damaged the back of the mirror. If the black spots are in the middle of the mirror, it is typically caused by moisture or cleaner reaching the back of the mirror and causing damage. Unfortunately in either case, there is no way to remove the black spots. The only solution is to repair the mirror by painting a new finish or disguising the spots. Here are a couple of ideas to help hide them.

Hide the Damage with a Frame

 

What You Will Need:

  • Decorative glass beads or tiles
  • Liquid lead
  • Stained glass paint
  • Mirror stripping (available at most home improvement stores)

How to Hide the Damage:

  1. If the damage is around the edge of the mirror, you can make a frame out of several different materials to cover it up. Use your creativity! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  2. Glue decorative glass beads or tiles around the mirror. If there are also some spots away from the edge, you may be able to add some accent beads on top of them.
  3. Mirror stripping can be placed around the edge to cover the damage, make a frame and keep the edges’ mirror function.
  4. If you can remove the mirror from the wall and lay it flat, you can outline some designs with liquid lead and fill them in with stained glass paint for an original look.

How to Resilver a Mirror

If your mirror has severe damage and there is no way to creatively cover it up, you may want to consider removing the silver backing and placing a new piece of mirror behind it. This can be done for you for a high price, or you can do it yourself for much less. Here’s how it works:

What You Will Need:

  • Face mask
  • Razor scraper
  • Chemical Silver Remover (optional)
  • 1/8″ mirror cut to the exact size of your original mirror

Steps for Resilvering:

  1. Prior to beginning this project, check the date of the mirror. If it is an antique or very old, it may have been made with mercury and other harmful agents. Consider leaving the mirror alone or having a professional strip it for you. If you decide to conquer it yourself, be sure to wear protective clothing, gloves and mask to avoid any risks or injury to yourself.
  2. Begin by removing the mirror from the wall and placing it face down on a sturdy surface.
  3. Use the razor scraper to carefully scrape away the existing silver backing. Be sure to dispose of this properly to avoid contamination.
  4. If the razor will not remove the silver, consider a chemical remover made especially for this purpose. They are available at some home improvement stores.
  5. Once all of the silver is removed from the back, the easiest method is place a new mirror behind the old glass. It is possible to place a new silver coating on the back, and there are some sites that are dedicated to instructing the process. However, it is quite difficult.
  6. Fasten the 1/8″ mirror to the back of the glass and return it to it’s original location on the wall.
  7. The mirror should look good as new!

Additional Tips and Information

  • Always ensure that you are disposing of the removed silver appropriately. Older mirrors contain harmful substances that can be dangerous if put in with regular trash.

 

Comments

  1. Mirror Guy says:

    This post is very misleading in that there is NO product at ANY home improvement store that will be labeled for removing the silver from a mirror. If you don’t believe me, do a search on the Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace Hardware sites and see for yourself. Mirror silvering is deposited onto glass via the silver nitrate precipitation method. The only way to remove it is through an acid-reduction reaction. The only products available to consumers that will do this are Sno-ball toilet cleaner or Muriatic Acid (available in pool supply stores). Both are very caustic and can cause severe burns and blindness if you are not careful in wearing eye, skin, and breathing protection. Yes, a do-it-yourselfer can do this project if they have very good ventilation, but do not let this post mislead you into thinking it is as easy as spraying on and wiping off some non-hazardous mystery product that doesn’t exist.

  2. Alaska Lass says:

    If your mirror is an antique with any value, leave it alone! If you “repair” the aging by removing the silvering and end up with a like-new mirror, you have probably ruined the value. Same thing with sticking doo-dads over the spots. If you decide to go ahead, check and see if there is any value to the frame, too. Even if the frame only has decorative value, it’s very easy to spoil a nice frame, so be careful.

  3. Dinah says:

    I agree with the above comment. There is a product called “Wink” that is an acid, and it is sold in grocery stores to remove rust and blood stains from clothes. It will etch glass and porcelain, and react with other metals, so it is to be used with some caution, and you will want to wear rubber gloves. I used it to remove the silver from mirrors to MAKE them look old for my artwork as an artist. If the person with the question wants to remove the spots, they could use this, judiciously, by placing drops on top of the black spots, letting them sit for a few hours and then just wash off. As it works, it will start to bubble up as the reaction takes place. This can be sped up by using a blow dryer, but you will want to work with it flat so it doesn’t run down the glass. It will leave a transparent glass, which may be somewhat dulled by etching. It may have to be repeated if the silver is newer and very thick, as in the more expensive ones made today. Then, just take a small piece of a mirror and glue it to the back where the spots were. This would be a lot easier than replacing the whole back of the mirror with one the same size. The Wink will etch the glass, so you have to keep your eye on it. As you see the silver coming off, wash it off right away. Even if it does etch the glass, it will not show so much if you put the mirror behind it. Silver in mirrors is not poisonous, by the way. Such an idea is ridiculous, but it is very valuable however.

  4. Lorrie says:

    I have a very old mirror that was wrapped up and ended up with tape on the back of it. Is there anyway to loosen the tape without damaging the mirror?

  5. Cathy says:

    I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to separate a picture that is stuck to a glass frame without tearing picture.
    Thanks.

  6. Melanie says:

    Cathy,
    The most recommended method is to soak the glass and adhered picture in a tray of warm water (picture-side facing upwards). Personally, I would try placing the glass in the freezer for 24 hours first as that would null the possibility of water damage to the photo. (Also, if the freezing alone did not separate the picture, the condensation as the glass warms back up might do the trick.) Regardless of the method, take a picture of the photo through the glass (or scan it) so as to preserve the image in case it becomes damaged. Also, if you have any problem removing the picture once it has loosened, try using a razor blade to separate the picture from the glass.

    Source: Real Simple
    Source: Huffington Post

  7. Melanie says:

    Lorrie,
    Try using vegetable oil or hairspray to loosen the adhesive and use your fingers to gently rub the oil on the adhesive in circles.

    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Clean Tape Marks from a Mirror

  8. Tina says:

    I have some intricately carved mirrors to clean. While the mirror is one solid piece, the plastic cast carving runs all through the mirror, leaving large sections to clean and is difficult to clean. These mirrors are attached to the ceiling, and last time, it took hours to clean each one. Any suggestions on how to clean a bit easier?

  9. Miss Mary says:

    Tina, I would recommend chandelier cleaner, an electric toothbrush, and lint-free microfiber cloths. You will need to place a tarp (old shower curtain, whatever) underneath to protect the floor, if it is carpeted (otherwise, expect to mop the floor, too!). Spray the chandelier cleaner and use the toothbrush on the intricate areas FIRST! Then, clean the larger areas. Using the microfiber cloths seems to speed up this tedious chore! Good luck, and I hope this helps!

  10. Mary says:

    Three doors on my medicine cabinet – three sections. Starting to get black spots around two of the doors. Professional re-silvering is out of the question. I read above about mirror stripping that could be placed around the door. What is mirror stripping and where can I get it?

  11. Melanie says:

    Mirror stripping is basically a frame or edge covers for the mirror. There are many kinds of MirrEdge at Home Depot, as well as the KOHLER kits and the Erias Home Designs J-Molds.
    Source: The Home Depot – Mirror-framing Kits

  12. Linda says:

    I have a huge mirror that can’t be taken off the wall, and it has about 6 inches of black all around the bottom. Probably moisture seepage. I’ve looked for wallpaper borders to cover it, but no luck. What kind of tiles would I have to buy and glue to cover it up? Thanks.

  13. Melanie says:

    Linda,
    I use Liquid Nails (a clear silicone glue available at hardware stores) to mosaic with glass and tile. The kind of tiles are entirely up to you/your style. If you don’t find something you like at your local hardware store, check craft stores or your local glass store. You could also consider using coasters instead of tiles. Also, since the mirror can’t be removed from the wall, consider using a strip or two of duct tape to hang each tile in the right spot (apply the duct tape down the front top half of the tile), then apply the glue to the back of the tile. That way you won’t have to stand there holding each tile until the glue dries.

    Source: Lowes – Liquid Nails

Leave a Comment

*