Glassware, much like plates, bowls, and flatware, is a staple in any kitchen. Like everything else from time to time, glassware becomes dirty. Whereas most plates and flatware can be cleaned with just a simple run through the dishwasher, glassware can accumulate a film that leaves once-sparkling, crystal-clear glasses with a spotty white layer that diminishes its beauty. Thankfully, there are several simple tips to help glassware keep its sparkling shine, including proper care, cleaning methods, and shelf storage. The most delicate glassware, such as wine glasses, should be treated with an appropriate level of delicacy. This means hand washing the pieces under tap water in the sink, and gently wiping them dry. In addition, use the right cleaning products and methods. Glassware needs a minimal amount of detergent, but natural agents, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemons, can be effective when a deep cleaning is needed, as can toothpaste. After a washing, glassware should be dried and stored safely to keep it clean and free from damage.
Tip 1: Separate Durable from Delicate
Fine stemware should never go in the dishwasher. Glass tumblers and inexpensive wine glasses can be washed in the dishwasher since they can usually take the shake that occurs in automatic cycle, but even these durable glasses can develop a buildup of a white film in time. This is, in part, of a result of rinse aids often used in dishwashers. Washing glassware in a dishwasher also increases the chance of a glass breaking, cracking, or chipping as a result of being jostled about during the wash cycle. Hand washing is safer, especially for the most expensive pieces. There are some tips available for both washing methods.
Dishwasher Cleaning Tips
Consumers who do run their glassware through a dishwasher can help protect the pieces by using a delicate wash cycle. If the dishwasher has a heated drying cycle, skip that as well. Additionally, be careful in how the glasses are arranged in the machine. They should not be close enough that they can clink against each other if they slide about a bit. It also helps to keep the dishwasher clean and flush out deposits that can build up by running the empty machine on a wash cycle with vinegar in the detergent compartment.
When hand-washing glassware, handle items one at a time and with care to ensure they do not slip out of the hand. Hold wine glasses by the bowl rather than the stem. Use a sponge with a handle or a soft foam brush to wash inside the glass and never reach a hand inside the glass as this can cause pressure that can break the glass. Wipe the clean glass dry with a soft lint-free cloth.
Tip 2: Use Hot Water and Skimp on the Detergent
Use hot or warm water rather than cold to clean glassware. Hot water is more effective at eliminating any remaining bacteria. It breaks down greasy residues more effectively, and can lift dirt away easier as well. Additionally, use a minimal amount of detergent on glassware. Just a drop of detergent suffices for a single glass. A mild, unscented dish soap is best because it does not leave a scent in a glass, which can be especially important for wine glasses.
Tip 3: Rinse the Glasses Soon After Use
Even consumers who plan to put their glasses in the dishwasher later should rinse them in hot water as soon as possible. This prevents liquids from becoming sticky and, more importantly, prevents stains. Red wine, tea, and coffee can stain glass in time. Rinsing the glass removes the bulk of the material and can minimize staining. However, a good deep cleaning can help remove the stains, if necessary.
Tip 4: Try Natural Cleaners
If glass does become stained, a film builds up, or hard water leaves deposits, there is no need to resort immediately to harsh chemical treatments on them. After all, they hold liquids from which people drink and, while the treatments are washed away before use, traces may remain and some harsh chemical treatments are dangerous when ingested. To avoid this completely, try using a few natural do-it-yourself cleaners, including vinegar, baking soda, and lemon.
Method 1: White Vinegar
White vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid, so it can be used to clean various surfaces around the home. For cleaning glassware, try one of the two following methods. Take a clean, dry dishtowel, add a few tablespoons of vinegar to it, and wipe down the glasses. For those who are less tolerant of vinegar, try diluting 2 cups of it with water in a plastic dish tub or shallow pan and soak the glasses in it. Do not rinse the glasses afterward.
Method 2: Baking Soda
There are also two ways to clean glassware with baking soda. First, fill a dish tub or sink with cool water. Sprinkle baking soda on a toothbrush and then gently scrub the glass with the toothbrush while submerged in the water. Afterward, soak the glass in the same vinegar solution as above, 2 cups vinegar plus a tub of water, for about 20 minutes.
In the second variation, use baking soda only. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a tub of hot water and soak the glasses for 30 minutes, then wash with hot water and a mild detergent and rinse in water.
Method 3: Lemon
After washing a glass in hot water, scrub it with lemon slices. In addition to removing the film that builds up, lemon removes the odors food and drink can leave behind. Rinse with water afterward as lemon can leave pulp behind.
Tip 5: Try Toothpaste
This is another easy cleaning method with materials already probably lying around the house. Use a white toothpaste and a toothbrush to scrub at the glass for about a minute. Be sure to cover the entire glass. Rinse the glass in hot water afterward to remove the toothpaste.
Tip 6: Try Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning is particularly effective for stemware because the glass can be held by the stem, thus keeping the hand away from the steam. Hold the glass over a pot of boiling water so that the steam rises up into the glass. Afterward, wipe the glass dry.
Tip 7: Dry the Glasses Properly
It is possible to let glasses air dry by turning them upside down onto a clean tea towel. However, this can leave water spots, especially if the home has hard water. Vinegar evaporates, so letting glasses that have been cleaned with vinegar air dry is less of an issue. To dry a glass after washing it, use either unscented paper towels or a lint-free cloth. Microfiber is an ideal choice, but the most important aspect is simply that the cloth does not shed fibers into the glass.
Tip 8: Store Glasses Properly
Keep glasses safe when not in use. Ideally, most glassware should be stored in a closed cupboard in an easily accessible part of the kitchen, and on a lower shelf to prevent straining to reach a glass. Whether the glass is stored upright or down depends on several factors, however.
Some glasses have delicate rims, so they should be stored upright. In addition, storing the glasses upside down means the rims can be contaminated by contact with the shelf if it is not dusted and wiped down frequently. If a glass is stored upside down and not completely dried beforehand, it may encourage growth of bacteria or mold. However, storing glasses right side up has its own disadvantages, including the possibility of dust accumulating inside the glass, which requires the glass to be wiped down or rinsed before use.
Wine glasses should, in particular, be handled with care. A rack is the best way to store stemware, but if this is not an option, store them right side up in a cabinet to prevent damage to the rims. In both cases, allow for some space between the glasses to minimize the chance of damage.