HOME > Chowhound > Wine >


soap or no soap to wash wine glasses

My friend told me that her husband washes their good wine glasses with hot water only, never any soap; a wine snob friend of his told him to do that. That friend has been known to return glasses in high end restaurants if he detects a soap smell, which no one detects but him.

how do you get your glasses spotless ?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I just rinse under very hot tap water, let them sit for a couple of minutes to airdry, then wipe/polish with a lint-free towel.

    1. Dishwasher.

      Spiegelaus, Riedel Vinum / Vinum Extreme, Schott Zwiesel Tritans (I use the Divas) all are dishwasher safe.

      3 Replies
      1. re: whiner

        NEVER put good wine glasses in the dishwasher. I learned this selling china years ago. The rims cannot stand up to the water pressure, and if the bowl is not well connected to the stem, they can break. Wash good glasses by hand. The thicker, rustic ones are okay to dish-wash.

        1. re: brendastarlet

          I agree - I have a selection of both Riedel Sommelier and Vinum. For a while, I put some of the vinum water glasses in the dishwasher, but after a couple of them breaking in there, I stopped.

          We use soap & water, as well as a goblet cleaning brush (sort of foamish) to wash them, then rinse very well in hot water, and dry "right side up" so to speak.

          A tip I got from a woman who used to clean my apartment who also worked in a hotel was to fill the glasses with steam from a kettle, and then dry with a linen cloth to get them completely spotless, and I do do that now before dinner parties.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Even with a "commercial" dishwasher, that is "supposed" to handle fine crystal stemware, I cannot do it. I don't trust even this special dishwasher. I do the hand-wash for my Riedel Vinums and my Sommelier glasses. To date, I have lost one in 15 years, and that was a Vinum "Burg balloon," that cracked when my poor wife was doing the initial rinse. Gotta' be a flaw in that stem.


      2. For spotless results, gotta go with hand washing.

        Use super hot water, a soft brush and be careful as you gently clean the bowl, rim etc.

        Then, using a spray bottle, spray the glass with distilled water and gently dry with a lint free towel.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vinosnob

          Then, if you live in AZ (they do not call it the Salt River for nothing), you can run the glasses over a tea kettle and let the steam dissolve the spots. Even with surfactants, we get these danged things, and if a quick pass of a micro-fibre cloth does not take 'em out, the steam will.


        2. I agree with Whiner that Spiegelau and Riedel glasses (I have both) are dishwasher safe, but -- like Dan G -- I (typically) use very hot water, air-dry, and use a lint-free towel. I will use soap to remove lipstick, etc., if necessary.

          The glasses which DO go into the dishwasher are my "party" wine glasses which are made by Luminarc.

          The issue with high-end wine glasses is, for me, not so much as to whether or not they are "dishwasher safe," but what else in the dishwasher will "bank" into the wine glasses and break them! If I had the sort of wine glass tray (where each glass is in its own "container" (think about a cardboard case of wine in which t he bottles are stored vertically) used in commercial dishwashers, I'd run the glasses through the dishwasher.


          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            For that danged lipstick, I have a couple of foam "brushes," that do a great job. I know, it looks so lovely on the ladies at the table, but is heck on the glasses. I do not leave it on overnight. Next AM, I use these brushes again, with the Stemshine.


          2. First choice is hot water and soft cloth. Reality is lipstick, which requires soap.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              Not sure why, but the sight of lipstick on a wine glass makes me feel intensely and strangely uncomfortable. Repressed memory maybe.

              1. re: The Chemist

                Are you referring to lipstick on a wineglass before it is washed?

                  1. re: The Chemist

                    At a wine dinner, it just happens. It is not easy to deal with, but is part of the price that we pay for having the charming and lovely ladies at the event. To me, it's a small price to pay and I do so gladly!


            2. The everyday wine glasses go in the dishwasher, top rack.The DW has rinse aid and salt, and generally, the glasses come out spot-free. The really nice glasses get hand washed, but usually with mild dish soap, well rinsed and hand dried. I have never noticed any residual soap smell in any of the glasses. (Nor have I noticed any residual soap smell on the dishes or utensils which are washed in the dishwasher or by hand.)

              4 Replies
              1. re: scrappydog

                hey scrappy-d, tell us about adding salt to nix spots, please?

                1. re: alkapal

                  The salt is just a feature of this particular DW, like rinse-aid. There is a reservoir for salt that holds about two cups of salt. My understanding is that it is designed to combat hard water. The side effect is that it helps keep spots off the glasses. If you do not have hard water, then it probably makes little difference. (Someone else may know better than me.) You need to be careful to use pure salt designed for water softeners or DWs (and not table salt) without anti-caking additives, etc. Just in case anyone is wondering, I don't notice any salty taste in the wine glasses either.

                  1. re: scrappydog

                    a direct water softener! thanks, scrappydog!

                    1. re: scrappydog


                      You actually ADD salt? Bring your glasses down to AZ and I'll give you all the salt that you could possibly want, right from my tap, and the whole house has "treated" water.

                      Guess that is just where one lives. You are more than welcome to some of my salt...


                2. I guess, for me, this begs the question, is this really a known problem? Does it mess with the flavor?
                  Twice, I have been served wine in a restaurant, where there were bubbles in the wine after the first pour. One time was very memorable. My SO and I bought a bottle of decent red and I had many bubbles, which didn't go away when swishing it around or letting it sit and in her glass they pretty well broke and disappeared in a brief time. I complained to the waiter, saying I though my glass had soap residue and that it tasted off compared to hers. I'm not sure if I was imagining it or not... Another glass was better but wasn't perfect (though it performed more like hers). I though this very odd and they disavowed any responsibility. No apology no nothing. This happened, to a lesser degree on one other occasion at a different place.
                  BTW, we drink plenty of red wine at home and this has never occurred. I was our glasses normally, in the dishwasher. Doesn't seem to matter whether I use the rinse additive or not.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Scargod

                    Yes, and yes. But THOROUGH rinsing in hot water will take care of any soap residue.

                  2. 1) SMELL:

                    You can only go either a) or b):

                    a) wash, then immediately drink ( which is probably the most common situation in restaurants)
                    b) wash, store, pull from storage, drink

                    Soap might be noticeable in a), no way in b).
                    Remedy for both cases: prime the glass with a small qty of the wine that will be served.

                    2) SPOTS: entirely different story. Hand wash, then hand dry with a linnen towel.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: RicRios

                      thanks for the feedback from everyone; I have 2 thin linen cloths I use only for wine glasses, anything else seems to leave lint.

                      1. re: superbossmom

                        When you wash these clothes, do so with something like Ivory bar soap. Do rinse these many, many times. Line dry. Do not use any form of drier sheets, if you do dry in your drier.

                        You want as fragrence-free a cloth, as is possible.


                    2. I find you really can't beat the lessons your mom taught you. Dish cloth, dish detergent, water at a temperature I can stick my hand into. Gently rub the glass while holding it by the glass, not the stem. After washing I rinse in 100% hot water by sitting it in the sink and running water into it until the soap overflows the rim. Then I repeat that as many times as necessary to see clear water. To dry I turn them upside down and place them on a towel being certain to move them about to let in air from time-to-time. THEN I polish out the water spots very gently with a regular old dish towel.

                      A local writer espoused using a rinsing agent in a dishwasher. I'd rather have fish in the lakes and oceans to go with my white wine. That stuff is too dangerous to the environment to use.

                      BTW I have a proper wine glass cleaning brush, but don't find it as effective. Now it's just a space occupant in my kitchen.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Googs

                        My Riedel glasses all turned cloudy from the dishwasher.
                        My new ones now get washed by hand unless I have a dinner party and then I'm lazy and they go back in the dishwasher.

                        1. re: joda

                          Try "steaming" them over the tea kettle. Be careful that you do not get your hand into the steam. Unless the glasses are etched, you will likely re-claim them.


                      2. I use a Wubeez. It's this great wine glass cleaning and polishing cloth I found on the internet. I wash my wine glasses by hand and after letting them drain upside down for a minute or so, I buff the glasses using a dry Wubeez. It leaves the glasses spotless. I found the cloth at (wubeez.com).
                        P.S. I have some old glasses that have hard water spots. The Wubeez helps but will not take out the spot completely.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hendy

                          Try soaking glasses w/ spots in water w/white vinegar.

                          1. re: RicRios

                            That works well for the red wine stains, that will build up. I soak my Port copitas in dilutted vinegar, prior to cleaning them.

                            Good tip,


                          2. re: hendy

                            Have not seen this brand. Will look for it though. I have two micro-fibre cloths, just for wine glasses, but his sounds wothwwhile.

                            Try the steam trick that I posted elsewhere in this thread.


                          3. FWIW, I use a product called "Stemshine." I wash every glass by hand, then rinse twice. Then, I do a quick dip in a surfactant, and a final rinse. The stems are placed first upright of a few moments, then turned over. Each is moved to a special mat to dry. After that, I polish each stem with a lint-free cloth, that has never been cleaned with detergent, or drier sheets. When each is brought from my sealed storage, they are again polished with a micro-fibre clothe, dampened with only distilled water. At this point, they are placed onto the table.

                            Anal? Yeah, probably, but I cannot ever detect any aroma in any glass.

                            Who knows, Georg Riedel might be a guest at my next dinner...

                            It also means that I do not do this on the night of a wine dinner. I rinse each glass, and scrub any lipstick, but hold each glass with water, until the next day. My only hope is that there is not a really major football game in the early AM, though my wife did install a 25" TV in the kitchen, just for me and my stemware.


                            1. I switched to plastic sippy cups. And I can just throw them in the wash when I do my clothes.

                              1 Reply
                              1. With lead crystal glasses, soap can get "permanently" hidden in the tiny lattice structure of the glass. That's generally the reason for no soap, if you choose to go that way.

                                However, nothing less than soap seems to get lipstick or other wine stains off a glass, though I admit to not trying the salt method a la scrappy dog. Perhaps a combo of salt, citric acid and other substances can obviate the use of soap...but soap works fine for me, along with thorough rinsing. Lint-free cloth.

                                Glasses can have a smell. A new glass straight out of its box has a marked smell. If I smelled soap in an empty glass like the OP's friend, I'd be more concerned about what the smell means in terms of soap residue than the smell itself.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  The foam brushes (do not have a brand name unfortunately) seem to do a good job with minimum cleaning agent. I have two sets of about 4 shapes (some are great for decanters), and use them all of the time.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    I can picture you waving all 8 wands around at the same time like a many-armed shiva.

                                2. Easy answer for me here - soap with thorough rinsing.
                                  I know that it's hard and time consuming doing a thorough soaping and rinsing with the Riedels or even with the cheaper Spiegelaus, but it's not easy for us to fathom the thought of using eating or drinking utensils that have not been soaped-up.

                                  1. We use a modern German dishwasher - a Siemens.

                                    They have a short washing cycle @ 35 C (95 F).

                                    We separate our washing so that we do only glasses at the end of the week. No food plates or anything, just glasses.

                                    We use the short cycle with a small amount of liquid detergent, together with a product called Calgonit Protektor for glasses.

                                    When the cycle is finished, we immediately open the dishwasher so that the steam is let out.

                                    I read a detailed scientific report recently where they used a scanning microscope on the results of glass corrosion through washing: Short answer: Heat, Dishwashing Detergent, Abrasion are the major culprits that will make the defects that exist in the glass to "cloud" over time.

                                    We've got Riedels, Schotts, Spiegelaus and they're all fine. Some of the glasses had been hand washed for 10 years before we decided to chuck it into the dishwasher. They've been going fine for the last 7 years. No clouding.

                                    1. Salt is abrasive. (As warned by my dentist) Unless you totally dissolve it in the water. I'm not sure what it's being used for-- but anyone who spends time in the ocean knows that salt water leaves a salty residue that is not washed off easily by plain water.

                                      LOVE this thread. Can remember MANY instances in restaurants where detergent smell meant sending the glasses back. Now, my new husband thinks I'm crazy, but I always smell the decanter and glasses before pouring. . . Steam method , extra hot water for washing and rinsing, and special lint-free cloths washed with little detergent are my methods.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: pickypicky

                                        Ah, salt. Living in Arizona, Phoenix to be specific, salt is a problem. Even with our industrial water "conditioner," salt is everywhere. They do not call it the Rio Salado for fun. That is the main reason that I do a multi-station wash for my wine glasses. The last two rinses are with a diluted surfactant. Then, I air-dry and polish each glass with a micro-fibre cloth, used for no other purpose. Before I serve into these, I polish them again. Comes with the territory.

                                        [Rant Mode On]
                                        I just bounced two glasses of wine because of the disinfectant used and not rinsed out. No one in the restaurant could believe my audacity. They also could not pick it up either. I guess that years of this stuff had eaten away their palates. They claimed that I was the first patron out of thousands, who had ever complained. Can the dining public be oblivious to this stuff? What sort of dreck have their patrons been drinking with no complaints? I'm not talking about a tiny amount of TCA. I am talking about "Janitor in a Drum" in my wine glass!!!!!! Rinse, rinse, rinse and then rinse once more. After you are done, polish each friggin' stem by hand with a clean towel. Polish it again, before the patron has a glass of wine. I do it and often face 100+ glasses on the "day after." If you're in the business, then show some class. Do not assume that all patrons have never tasted wine in their lives. Look at the glass. Smell the glass. Do you find anything? If so, sent that glass back and instruct the staff on what is required.
                                        [Rant Mode Off]


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          "They claimed that I was the first patron out of thousands, who had ever complained."

                                          Good! Don't forget telling them it's the last time they can say that.

                                          1. re: RicRios

                                            I love you, Bill Hunt. Years of wine tasting have sharpened my nose to the point that sometimes I feel disadvantaged by it. If enough of us send glasses back, the better places will pay more attention. I'm also tired of high-end restaurants making excuses. Whatever happened to The Customer is Always Right. Unfortunately, restaurants pander to rude people but polite people (making a good point like this) are met with a faceful of excuses.

                                            I smell my OWN glasses and decanter before I pour.

                                            1. re: pickypicky

                                              Along the lines of your seventh (+/-) sentence, I'm about finished with a review of New Orleans restaurants that will go on that board. In one review (a good one, BTW), I cite our first experience with one of the higer-end establishments, and the "pander(ing) to rude people... " Should be up by Monday, if I stay with it. Their pandering and indifference cost them 15 years of our patronage.


                                            2. re: RicRios

                                              I also have a fear of fancy decanters with odd shapes. When waiters or sommeliers show up with them, I always want to ask "May I smell it?"-- but have never dared.

                                              1. re: pickypicky

                                                Oh, I know. One of my favorites is a Riedel Lyra. It's lovely to look at, and actually is not ergonomically bad - until I have to clean it!