How To Wash Crystal & Delicate Glass

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Crystal glasses, ornaments and pieces should not be washed in the dishwasher since they are at risk of damage from the high heat and harsh detergent. Here’s how to wash them by hand…

Keep Crystal & Glassware Sparkling With These Tips

Keep Crystal & Glassware Sparkling With These Tips

  • Fully line the bottom of a sink with a dish towel or two, then fill with warm water and Ivory dishwashing liquid (or your favorite mild detergent). Wash one glass at a time.
  • Rinse with a solution of 3 parts warm water and 1 part vinegar.
  • Dry with a soft cotton cloth and return it to its place.

This process does a good job of giving a sparkling, spot free result. If pieces are dirty or grimy, you can rub dirt gently with a soft cotton cloth or a very soft bristle toothbrush.

Notes:

  • It’s important to always use just-warm water, not hot. And never rinse with cold water. Extreme temperatures can cause cracks or breakage.
  • Instead of using the vinegar and water rinse solution above, you can also try a splash or two of ammonia in warm water. This also helps fight cloudiness and spotting on your glassware.
  • Only wash crystal and delicate glass that is first at room temperature and don’t fill with liquid or beverages until the pieces have returned to room temperature after cleaning.
  • Allowing to air dry encourages calcium, mineral deposits and hard water buildup that can eventually cause the glass to become cloudy. Always dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Sick Glass

Cloudy glass could indicate sick glass, or more commonly – calcium and mineral deposits. Here are two articles to read:

Curing Sick Glass – Antiques Roadshow Article

All too often, Reyne says that people desperate to clean their clouded glass will soak it in straight ammonia or hydrochloric acid. These strong chemicals will eat through the calcium, but they don’t stop there. They also eat into your glass, leaving rough spots that look like “craters on the moon,” Reyne says. There are no easy remedies for that damage.

How To Clean Sick Glass

Some stains are thin, white, milky coatings which are usually chemical deposits of carbonates. Others look similar, but when you try to remove the stain, there is no material to remove. In this latter case the interior surface of the glass has been attached chemically resulting in a dull milky appearing surface. The third type disfigurement is one that reveals, upon close examination of the surface, millions of miniature fissures. This latter phenomenon is correctly referred to as “sick” glass and occurs as a result of improper processing during manufacturing.

There is a general practice to incorrectly refer to all these forms of defacement as “sick” glass. The reason I make a distinction among these various forms of cloudiness is that there exists corrective action that can be taken on the first two forms; whereas, the true “sick” glass must be accepted as is. Luckily, the large majority of cloudy glass falls within the first two categories.

If it’s an especially valuable item that you’d like to save, you can try a professional.

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Published: January 23, 2007

What Readers Are Saying:
3 Comments to “How To Wash Crystal & Delicate Glass”
  1. wayne says:

    I just bought an older home with very old ceiling light fixtures which have glass shades. The glass is cloudy and doesn’t allow light through very well. I am looking for suggestions on how to clean them properly.

  2. Denise says:

    I have 30 antique hand-blown 6″ clear crystal Christmas ornaments. Over the years the insides have collected dust, tree flocking, and a few “critters”. Any suggestions on how to clean the inside without leaving spots? These ornaments are family heirlooms that make our tree a reminder of times with those longer with us. It just wouldn’t be Christmas with out them. I look forward to hearing from you and am anxiously awaiting your response!

  3. Nathan says:

    I enjoyed the article however I must point out that this part is factually incorrect:

    “All too often, Reyne says that people desperate to clean their clouded glass will soak it in straight ammonia or hydrochloric acid. These strong chemicals will eat through the calcium, but they don’t stop there. They also eat into your glass, leaving rough spots that look like “craters on the moon,” Reyne says. There are no easy remedies for that damage.”

    Hyrdrocloric acid will not eat glass under any circumstances whatso-ever, it is safe to store the highest concentrations of hydrocloric acid in glass for indefinite periods of time. Hydrocloric acid is non-reactive with glass.


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