How to repair mirror desilvering

Step-by-step tutorial on how to remove rust from the edges of a tarnished mirror and reduce the effects of unsightly desilvering aka mirror rot or oxidation.


A can of WD40 sitting on a tap in front of a bathroom mirror with water damage (desilvering)

I was recently sponsored by WD-40 to create some Tiktoks to help increase awareness about their Fix it Challenge. The Tiktoks needed to demonstrate some unusual, DIY related uses for WD-40 and I thought you might find the ones I came up with helpful so I'm popping them up as super quick blog posts. For complete transparency I have not been asked to do this by WD-40 and will not receive anything for doing so. There are also lots of hacks, tips and tricks over on my Instagram.

Close up of mirror desilvering

What is Mirror desilvering?


Desilvering is basically water damage and refers to that annoying process when the backing of the mirror deteriorates and you get black or brown spots. It is also known as, mirror rot, water damage, oxidation or tarnishing. It is often seen in bathroom mirrors because of the high moisture levels in the air which penetrate the mirror edge and can also occur where moisture drips down the mirror and onto the bottom edge causing rust to form.

WD40 multiuse flexible straw pointed at mirror with rust and desilvering

The best treatment is actually prevention (more on that in a minute) as to 'resilver' the mirror you need specific chemicals and is really best left to the professionals. There are ways you can hide the damage such as by painting or taping a frame onto the mirror, or in fact by adding an actual frame, but after much research on the internet I couldn't find any good suggestions for actually removing the unsightly rust to make the damage less noticeable. As we have a mirror with this issue in our bathroom I set about testing an idea I'd had after seeing lots of rust removal hacks using WD-40.


What you'll need to treat a desilvered mirror


WD-40 multiuse can with flexible straw

Old toothbrush

Cleaning sponge


How to remove the rust from water damage / mirror desilvering

  • Point the flexible straw under the mirror, getting as close to the gap in the join between the front and backing of the mirror (where the moisture has penetrated) as possible and spray the WD-40 whilst moving the can along the base of the mirror.

  • Leave the WD-40 to do its thing for 10 minutes or so.

  • Take an old toothbrush and place it under the mirror so the bristles are on the line of the join.

  • Angle the toothbrush so at least some of the bristles get into the gap and scrub backwards and forwards. You should be able to see the bristles moving the rust particles if you look through the mirror.

  • Give the underside of the mirror another spray with the WD-40 and repeat the scrubbing until all the rust has been removed.

  • Once complete mop up any WD40 from the mirror, tiles and sink area.

  • Be sure to throw away the old toothbrush or put it somewhere where it can't be used accidentally!


As you can see from the photos, my bathroom mirror is obviously not back to its original condition but it looks so much better than it did with the rust and from a distance you can't actually see the damage. The WD-40 will also help prevent the rust coming back and the desilvering getting any worse which leads me on to preventing it in the first place...


I have seen mirror repair tape advertised which is reflective and designed to make the mirror look undamaged, but I didn't think the level of damage to my mirror warranted this. Let me know if you've tried this tape before and have any feedback.


How to prevent mirror desilvering


The key to preventing mirror desilvering or oxidation is to stop any moisture / water vapour being able to penetrate the mirror which can be done by applying a layer of sealant to the mirror edge. WD-40 can be sprayed on the mirror edge regularly in its capacity as a water repellant and this will help prevent the formation of rust.


If you are a fan of hacks, tips and tricks then you might like to read the following articles from my blog...

Money saving home decor hacks

DIY Hacks how to repair plasterboard walls

DIY Hacks - Painting

5 tips for a successful IKEA hack


Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe by scrolling down to the box at the bottom of the page.


Don't forget to check out some of my other DIY & upcycling blog posts which are linked below

IKEA Hack - Billy is my hero

IKEA Hack - you HAVSTA try this one!

Bargain DIY stair runner - step by step tutorial

Upcycled pantry shelves of joy

Budget bedroom makeover to beat the lockdown blues


...and why not pop over and give me a follow on Instagram too.


Feel free to share this with anyone who enjoys a good IKEA hack, or just wants to transform their home without spending a fortune.


Thanks again.


Claire