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How To Wash Crystal & Delicate Glass

Posted By Tipnut On January 23, 2007 @ 7:20 am In General | 3 Comments

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.


  • 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 [1]

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 [2]

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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URLs in this post:

[1] Curing Sick Glass – Antiques Roadshow Article: http://web.archive.org/web/20070807204750/http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/roadshow/tips/sick_glass.html

[2] How To Clean Sick Glass: http://www.cutglass.org/articles/sick.htm

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