how to clean crystal Glasses
Few things are lovelier than crystal glasses by candlelight, or the simple elegance of a flower-filled crystal vase.
Until party guests leave and the flowers begin to droop, that is. And you're left cleaning glasses with lipstick stains on the rims, and a water ring around the vase.
Here's the scoop on the care and cleaning of your everyday stemware and your Sunday-best crystal to keep them looking their best - party after party.
how to clean crystal - and store it safely
- In the dishwasher: If your lead crystal glasses carry a dishwasher-safe label, you can pop them in along with your glassware into the dishwasher. Riedel's Web site (www.riedelcrystal.com) notes that its lead crystal glasses are used in thousands of hotels and restaurants around the world and are, naturally, cleaned in professional dishwashers. Just make sure the long-stemmed glasses fit securely in the rack; don't overcrowd or overload.
Crystal stemware can often be safely cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Let glasses come to room temperature before starting the dishwasher. Extreme temperature changes - above 150 degrees Fahrenheit and below room temperature - can wreak havoc on crystal. Take care when adding the detergent. Don't use a drop more than recommended, taking into consideration the water hardness (or softness) in your area.
- Let the dishwasher cool before you open it. And allow the crystal glass inside to air-dry before you touch them - the heat softens that lovely gold or platinum trim and could cause smudging.
- The downside if you clean crystal in the dishwasher: The wash cycle takes one hour or longer; the cooling phase may take all night, exposing the crystal to hot steam first and later to concentrated moisture, which over the years could corrode the fine surface of stemware. Glasses that have tarnished may show a slight, irreversible blue film.
- Another downer: Glasses may absorb a dishwasher smell - created by the chlorine in the water or the rinse aid.
- Stuck together: If glass or crystal tumblers emerge from the dishwasher stuck together, don't try to pry them apart - they'll break. Instead, put cold water in one glass and about an inch of hot water in the other.
- Cloudy crystal and glassware: Place vinegar in the bowls of cloudy crystal; allow to sit for five minutes. It's the easiest and safest way to remove a cloudy film. If that doesn't work, squeeze a soft scrub with bleach-type cleaner into the bowl of the glass and rub. Let sit for several hours with cleanser inside. CLR, a commercial product formulated to remove calcium, lime and rust buildup, also works well.
- If cloudiness remains, you've got a permanent condition known as etching. To prevent etching, use less detergent, buy the lowest phosphate-content brand you can find, and stop prewashing dishes. Dishwashing detergent needs a bit of soil to work, otherwise it will tend to foam up and attack surfaces such as glass and crystal, creating the cloudy appearance.
- To make old or cloudy crystal shine, mix baking powder (it's less abrasive than baking soda) with lemon juice or water into a paste. Rub over the crystal; rinse clean in lukewarm water.
- Crystal care: If you haven't used your glasses in a while, smell them before pouring your fine Cabernet. Some finer crystal absorbs musty or woody odors from the cupboard. They may need cleaning.
- Storing crystal: Store crystal upright to protect delicate rims. It may also keep crystal, which is generally softer and more porous (especially Riedel crystal) from absorbing the smells of a cupboard or cabinet. Always give glasses breathing room in storage. If nestled too close together, glassware can break from heat expansion.
cleaning and care of glassware
- Care: Glassware is generally sturdy and can go into the dishwasher as long as the glasses fit snugly in the dishwasher's rack, and you don't place them too close together. Towel or allow to air dry.
- Cleaning in the dishwasher: Go easy on the tough detergent - it's the prime culprit in that irreversible white film known as etching. If your glasses are already etched, use less detergent or switch to a milder detergent.
- By hand: If washing by hand, add lemon peels to the rinse water for sparkle and shine.
how to safely clean crystal by hand
Remove your hand jewelry, swing the faucet away from the sink to prevent damage, and place a soft rubber pad over the bottom of the sink. If you have a divided sink, have a rubber cover over the ridge between sinks.
When cleaning crystal by hand, make sure the sink bottom is padded to prevent breakage.
Wash with lukewarm water, using a mild hand-washing detergent (more is not better here - excessive detergent can leave a cloudy residue). Excessive heat can damage the delicate surface.
Rinse thoroughly under warm, running water. Dry with paper towels or a lint-free cloth that has been washed without fabric softener. (The softener leave a light film that will pop the bubbles in your champagne - which isn't festive at all.)
Before polishing your glasses, steam them over a pan of boiling water for an extra sparkle. And be sure to replace your drying towel if it becomes too damp - a wet linen towel will cling to the crystal and could cause the glass to break.
To eliminate fingerprints from your fine and clean crystal, wear gloves when drying by hand. And of course, you wouldn't force the cloth into the bowl of your crystal glasses; the delicate bowl will shatter under pressure.
Finally, if you're a little lightheaded after a night of enjoying your crystal wine glasses, you may be too clumsy to tackle this delicate chore before retiring for the evening. Just give the glasses a quick rinse and leave an inch or so of water in the bowl of the glasses.
There's always tomorrow. Why spoil a good evening?