How to Clean a Dirty Mirror in Photoshop

We’ve all experienced it at some point: you’ve taken what seems to be the perfect photo, only to realize that the mirror in the background is covered with dirt, smudges, or other unsightly marks. Fear not! With Adobe Photoshop, you can quickly and easily clean up a dirty mirror, leaving your photo looking polished and professional. In this detailed guide, we’ll walk you through the process step by step, covering all the necessary techniques and tools you need to know.

1. Preparing Your Workspace

Open your image in Photoshop

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s essential to have your workspace set up correctly. Start by opening your image in Photoshop. Go to File > Open, and then locate your image file on your computer. Click on the image file to open it in Photoshop.

Create a duplicate layer

Creating a duplicate layer will allow you to work non-destructively, meaning that you can always revert to the original image if needed. To do this, right-click on the Background layer in the Layers panel and select Duplicate Layer. Name the duplicate layer “Working Layer” and click OK.

Zoom in on the mirror area

To get a clear view of the mirror and its imperfections, zoom in on the area where the mirror is located. You can use the Zoom tool (Z) from the toolbar or press Ctrl + (Cmd + on Mac) to zoom in.

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2. Removing Dirt and Smudges

Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool

Now that your workspace is prepared, it’s time to start cleaning the dirty mirror. Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) from the toolbar. This tool works by automatically sampling the surrounding area to remove imperfections seamlessly.

Adjust brush size and hardness

In the options bar at the top of the screen, adjust the brush size and hardness according to the size of the dirt spots you want to remove. A smaller brush size with a lower hardness setting will allow for more precise spot removal, while a larger brush with higher hardness will cover more area but may not blend as smoothly.

Remove dirt and smudges

With the Spot Healing Brush Tool selected and your brush size and hardness adjusted, click and drag over the dirt spots and smudges on the mirror. The tool will automatically sample the surrounding area and remove the imperfections. Repeat this process until you’ve removed all the visible dirt and smudges.

3. Enhancing Mirror Reflection

Create a new layer

To enhance the mirror’s reflection, create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Name this layer “Reflection Enhancement.”

Select the Clone Stamp Tool

Choose the Clone Stamp Tool (S) from the toolbar. This tool allows you to clone parts of an image and paint them onto another area.

Sample and paint the reflection

Hold down the Alt key (Option key on Mac) and click on a clean, reflective area of the mirror to sample it. Then, paint over the dull or distorted areas of the reflection to enhance the mirror’s clarity. Be careful not to overdo it, as this can make the image look unnatural.

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Lower the layer opacity

Once you’ve enhanced the mirror’s reflection, lower the opacity of the “Reflection Enhancement” layer in the Layers panel to create a more subtle effect. Adjust the opacity until you achieve a natural-looking reflection.

4. Smoothing Mirror Surface

Create a new layer

Next, create another new layer by clicking on the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Name this layer “Mirror Smoothing.”

Select the Mixer Brush Tool

Choose the Mixer Brush Tool (B) from the toolbar. This tool blends colors and smoothes out textures, making it perfect for creating a clean and polished mirror surface.

Adjust the brush settings

In the options bar at the top of the screen, adjust the brush size, Wet, Load, Mix, and Flow settings. A higher Wet setting will blend colors more, while a lower setting will make the brush act more like a traditional brush. The Load setting determines how much paint the brush picks up, while the Mix setting affects how the brush mixes colors. Finally, the Flow setting controls the rate at which the brush applies paint.

Smooth the mirror surface

With the Mixer Brush Tool selected and your brush settings adjusted, gently paint over the mirror surface to smooth out any remaining imperfections. Be sure to follow the natural direction of the reflection to maintain a realistic appearance. You may need to adjust the brush settings as you work to achieve the desired level of smoothness.

5. Final Touches and Exporting

Evaluate your work

Before exporting your image, take a moment to evaluate your work. Zoom out and view the image as a whole, checking for any areas that may need additional attention. If you notice any remaining imperfections, go back and address them using the techniques described above.

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Merge layers

Once you’re satisfied with your cleaned mirror, merge your working layers to create a single, final image. To do this, select all the layers you’ve created (excluding the original Background layer) in the Layers panel by holding down the Ctrl key (Cmd key on Mac) and clicking on each layer. Then, right-click on one of the selected layers and choose Merge Layers.

Export your image

Finally, export your image by going to File > Export > Export As. Choose your desired file format, such as JPEG or PNG, and adjust the quality settings as needed. Click on Export All and choose a location to save your cleaned-up image.


Cleaning a dirty mirror in Photoshop doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily transform your photos and create stunning, polished images. With a little practice, you’ll become an expert at cleaning mirrors in no time. So, the next time you encounter a dirty mirror in your photographs, don’t despair—grab your Photoshop toolbox and get to work!