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The entire point of a mirror is the illusion of depth. It’s like a painting that constantly changes and shifts, reflecting the world before it. They make rooms feel bigger and brighter and lend an air of class to any home or business, not to mention their convenience for anyone looking to check their teeth or reapply some makeup. None of this works if the mirror is dirty or blemished, however. Even a small scratch can be distracting enough that the whole illusion is ruined and the mirror just feels wrong. Fortunately there are a few home remedies you can apply before you lug the thing to the specialists for an expensive re-silvering.

One home remedy that’s apparently been in place since the dawn of time is the “toothpaste method”. You need a white toothpaste, something like basic Colgate without any added gels or beads. Simply rub it into the scratch, wipe off the excess, and let it dry. Afterwards you can polish the area with a soft cloth. This does not make the scratch completely invisible but it will render it far less noticeable, leaving guests none the wiser. It’s not a permanent method, however. You may have to keep whitae toothpaste on hand for reapplications in the months to come.

Some mirrors don’t respond so well to toothpaste so in these cases there’s a similar alternative. Take one part white vinegar and one part dry mustard. You don’t need much; a half tablespoon of each should be plenty. Mix it together until it forms a sort of paste and then rub it into the mirror scratch. Afterwards, wipe off the excess, and polish after it dries. Neither method is completely effective because unfortunately, mirror scratches are permanent. These are just invisible Band-Aids you can put over the scratch.

Toothpaste and mustard paste are the two most reliable stopgaps but feel free to experiment. An ammonia and water solution can also help glass “heal”. You can also mix a pinch of baking soda with water to create a similar paste if dry mustard isn’t handy.

If the scratch isn’t too deep and you just can’t stand to have it there under your toothpaste remedy, you can try buffing it out with a polishing cloth. You want the finest possible material for mirror buffing; nothing less than a superfine cloth will do. You can find these polishing discs at most hobby stores, complete with a Dremel or similar tool. You can also try to do it by hand. Be warned, what you’re doing here is essentially sanding down your mirror until it looks better, so you’re basically trading one kind of damage for another it can create a distorting effect in the mirror that’s noticeable up close. These are the choices you have to make if mirror damage is bugging you.

So there you have it. Sad to say, a scratched mirror is scarred for life. Sometimes this can add character to a mirror, making it appear worn and used. If that’s not your cup of tea, give the above methods a shot before you lug the thing in for a replacement.

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