How to Remove Light Scratches and Stubborn Stains from Glass and Mirrors

Provided courtesy The Gordon Glass Company

Removing light scratches, scuffs or stubborn stains from glass and mirrors is a simple do-it-yourself procedure, requiring little more than a small felt buffing wheel that attaches to a power drill and a substance called Cerium Oxide Powder.  

A scratch is considered "light" if you can't feel it when you run a fingernail across them.  If a scratch catches your nail you may not be able to polish it out without distorting or cracking the glass. 

You can also buff out stubborn mineral deposits...

Stubborn stains that are resistant to detergents and other cleaning products are often caused by minerals from hard water or other chemical contaminant and can usually be easily buffed out.

Cerium Oxide powder mixes easily with water to form a glass-polishing compound that professionals have been using for centuries.  You can use it to buff out minor imperfections on windows, mirrors, tabletops, shower doors, even headlight lenses.   

A little cerium oxide goes a long way. 

Eight ounces is as much as most home handymen will ever need, particularly since the polishing mix can be left to dry and then reactivated by adding water.  Cerium Oxide is available online from many sources. Buy the least expensive grade you can find since the 'purest' forms are intended for much harder substances. You can also save money by buying Cerium Oxide together with a three-inch diameter felt buffing wheel that is sold as a 'kit.' 

Here are step by step instructions for restoring glass to like new condition:  

1) Thoroughly clean the area you're going to work on, using a lint free fabric or paper cloth.

2) Get two small plastic tubs, a pint to a quart in size and fill one halfway with water.

3) Place the buffing wheel into the water to let it get thoroughly damp, but not dripping wet.

4) Scoop 3 TBSP of Cerium Oxide into the other tub and add 1 TBSP of water. 

5) Use a plastic rod to stir the mixture until the slurry reaches the consistency of heavy cream. Add more water or powder as needed. (It's safe to check with your bare finger.)  And don't worry if there are small particles that don't completely dissolve.)

6) Attach the dampened polishing wheel to your electric drill and dip it into the slurry 

7) Place the slurry-soaked polishing wheel on the work area and rev up your drill. Keep the pad moving constantly side to side and in a circular motion

8) Keep buffing until the slurry is ALMOST dry (CAUTION: Be sure not to buff the glass when it is dry. This can cause the glass to overheat and crack.)

9) When the slurry has dried, wipe it off.  

10) If the glass has not been cleared up to your satisfaction, just repeat the buffing process with the slurry-dampened pad

This article courtesy The Glass Experts at , a division of the Gordon Glass Company