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Sparkling Stemware: How To Care For Your Crystal

Crystal Stemware with Red WineWhether you are setting the table with traditional glassware, family crystal, wine glasses, water goblets, or brandy snifters, they usually all have one thing in common, a delicate stem (hence the name "stemware"). With each use, be it a formal affair or a casual dinner, the heavy wear and tear on your stemware takes place after the guests are gone and it's time to clean up the kitchen. The scattered array of stemware may be wearing lipstick stains, some are still cradling that rich bordeaux - poured but not enjoyed - and a few are already standing in the sink among the discarded cutlery and serving utensils.

Follow these DOs and DON'Ts on how to care for your crystal... Time spent now to take proper care of your stemware will keep them sparkling like new, adding years to their service and your enjoyment. NOTE: Don't be put off by what looks like a long list, it's a very simple and efficient process broken out for you in detail!


DO clear out every item in the sink before you begin

DO pour out all liquids ASAP, some red wines can leave a stain

DON'T try to clean them over a sink full of dishes, if one breaks you'll have sharp glass that may be hard to find

DO line the bottom of the sink with a sink mat (a silicone baking mat is a good substitute)

DON'T skip lining the sink, you can always use a few dishtowels to cushion the bottom

DO use warm - not hot - water

DO allow chilled or heated stemware to come to room temperature before washing

DON'T use the dishwasher - while it may be tempting, the high heat and shifting from the water spray can break them; plus, it's a more efficient use of the DW to clean everything else

DO wear rubber gloves

DO use a lint free washcloth to scrub the glassware (you may need more than one)

DON'T use an abrasive, scouring pad - they can scratch the crystal and any metal trim

DO use a small amount of mild detergent

DO add a bit of white vinegar to the washcloth - if needed - to aid in stain removal

DO hold the bowl area of the stemware cupped in your palm, locked between your first and second fingers; this secures the glass as you wash and rinse thoroughly

DON'T hold the glass by the stem, this is an easy way for it to slip out of your hand OR break off from the bowl area due to pressure and twisting

DO set up a safe area to drain the wet glasses upright on a smooth towel

DO wash a group, e.g., half a dozen or so, stop, dry, and put away; then begin the washing process again for the next group

DO use a lint free dishtowel to immediately dry each glass using the same "cupped in your palm while washing" technique, this helps avoid water spots

DO store them upright only in a closed cabinet

DON'T store them on the rims, the drinking edge of the crystal is more likely to weaken and chip AND if the base is heavy, they can topple over and break

Salute! Nostrovia! Cheers! À la vie! Drink up!

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Luci Weston

@Amorette: Great! I think a lot of people don't use their nice stuff for fear of breaking it. That does happen, but so what? Better to use and enjoy it, then to leave it stored away. Have fun entertaining!


I recently purchased 12 stemware and was hesitant about washing them. The Dos and Don'ts have alleviated my concerns and I will take the extra care to wash them by hand instead of the usual dishwasher. I am now ready to make them sparkle for the holidays!

Luci Weston

@Donna Maria: Thanks. This task seems like a no-brainer until you drop a crystal glass into the sink or open the dishwasher and get a bad surprise! Hope it helps the holiday clean-up go easier this season.

Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Fantastic tips! This is such practical information. Thank you for sharing -- very timely too since it's the holidays!

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