HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


How do you clean your stemware?

Can anybody help? We drink wine regularly, which means I have to regularly clean those pesky, stubborn wine glasses. I'd love to put them through the dishwasher, but if I don't get them out right away, there's a rim of dried residue on one side of the glasses, and they tend to come out of the dishwasher splattered with soap spots and streaks. Maybe I just need a better dishwasher. Anyway, by hand is a real bear, and I break them, and they still dry with streaks. Please tell me what you do to get your wine glasses clean!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you have spots on them from the diswasher, then you are likely using too much detergent or the wrong kind for your water type (hard or soft) in your area. Your dishwasher itself is probably fine. I would suggest that you try using half as much dishwashing power or liquid and see how your stuff turns out and adjust from there. As to the rim of dried reside along the bottom edge, I get that occasionally and I just clean that off with a damp sponge. It comes off really easy and it is certainly easier than cleaning wine glasses by hand.

    We buy cheap stemware from Crate and Barrel. It tends to etch over time but I don't care. By the time it is noticeable we have likely broken a few glasses anyway. I just order a new set and toss out the old ones.

    1. Good (crystal) stemware should not go in the DW. When we use ours, I just rinse the glasses out the night before and set them aside in an area on the counter where they are unlikely to be jostled. Then, the next morning when I've completely emptied whatever dishes are in my dishdrainer, I wash each glass carefully and place them inverted in the portion of the dishdrainer designed to hold stemware upside-down. They should air dry just fine without any spotting.

      I don't like to clean the glasses right after using them because (a) I've been drinking and may be a bit careless, and break one, and (b) I want an absolutely empty dishdrainer in which to place them upside down, without any chance that some other item will shift weight and impact them.

      Cheaper stemware (if not too tall) goes in the DW. Do you use a rinsing agent in your DW? That may address the spotting issue. And I agree with LS that you may be using too much dw detergent. The detergent has become way more concentrated than it used to be. You only need to fill the dispenser about 1/3 to 1/2.

      1. Hi,

        You might try a rinse agent. I use Jet Dry. My dishwasher has a dispenser in the door. If yours doesn't, I think there might also be one that hangs from the rack.

        Yes, washing stemware by hand is a big pain. Almost impossible to get them no-spots clean...

        Edited to add: Masha is correct. Crystal doesn't belong in the dishwasher.


        1. I live in So Cal, so the water is very hard. That eliminates my favorite method which is wash by hand and let air dry in drainer--spots galore. So I either wash, and dry, by hand or, if it's time to run the dishwasher I put them in there--they come out sparkling.

          1 Reply
          1. re: escondido123

            Our water here in Virginia is very hard, too. After our well water goes through the softener, then it goes through reverse osmosis.

            So.... I do wash all my wine glasses by hand, but I rinse first in the soft sink water, then a quick final rinse under the reverse osmosis faucet and then put on the dish rack (not the dishwasher rack) to dry. Nary a spot. I never dry them with a towel.

            My reason besides spotting is that I read that Robert Parker insists on a very clean glass. However, mine is not 'sterilized.' :-))

          2. B&B, we preface our remarks by noting that our municipal water supply (Portland, Oregon) provides us with very soft water.

            We wash all of our stemware, except the very tall items that will not fit, in the dishwasher (its a Miele G848), using Ecover powder detergent and Cascade Crystal Clear rinse aid. Before we switched to Ecover, we used to have serious etching problems with any glassware (not just stemware; we had a set of glass salad bowls that ended up looking as if they had been pelted with buckshot, and had to be discarded). But with Ecover we have repeatedly washed Reidel, Eisch, and Schott Zweissel stemware without the slightest hint of etching. I do agree with LovingSpoonful, however, that it sounds as if you have been using too much detergent in your dishwasher.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Politeness

              Ecover is my preference; another reason is that it is OK for our septic system. Before that, etching was a problem.

            2. Your inquiry reminded me of that pesky problem of red wine residue at the bottom of wine glasses. We found a great solution (no pun intended): denture cleaner tablets. Pop one into a glass with warm water. Works like a charm.

              7 Replies
              1. re: boredough

                That "residue" is just dried wine. Doesn't yours just wash right out? A whole denture tablet per wine glass. Boy, gotta say that IMO that's serious overkill.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Yes, I know it's dried wine, but I find that hand-washed glasses (mine are too delicate for the dishwasher) , tend to retain a bit of that residue. It's not easy getting my hand to the bottom of the bowl to gently scrub it, and after many uses the discoloration is noticeable. I did not mean to imply that I use the tablets on a regular basis, just maybe every 6 months or so.

                  1. re: boredough

                    If there is any residue, it means you are not properly cleaning your glasses. it's not a function of the water or the soap, it's a function of your technique. if you can't reach the bottom of the bowl, use a dish rag and push that in the bowl. Also, rinse the glasses immediately after use before the wine has a chance to harden.

                    1. re: taos

                      Agree. I rinse thoroughly and there's no problem with the red wine. I have to wash my glasses carefully because I'm a spaz, but also make sure to swish the dishcloth through them and hand dry with lint free cloth. I hate spots on my glasses. Even in restaurants it bugs me to see that residue on the rim - yuck.

                      1. re: taos

                        I do clean my wine glasses immediately after dinner, and try my best to gently reach the bottom of the glass. But for whatever reason, certain (but not all styles/make) of my glasses show stain after a while. When that happens, I use denture cleaner tablets.

                        1. re: boredough

                          If they "stain after a while," all that means is that you're not cleaning thoroughly each time you wash them. A little bit of wine is then left behind each time and it builds up to the point where you see a visible stain. Again, washing thoroughly and immediately after use will prevent this. If you still have trouble cleaning them thoroughly, before you resort to chemical cleaners like denture tablets that you probably also will not rinse out well since you have trouble rinsing out wine, try cleaning with a cotton-tipped bottle brush like this one:

                2. Very soft water, but everything goes in the dishwasher.

                  All of our stemware was cheap (less than $5 each) so if it gets broken, no harm no foul. Amazingly, despite many drunken uses of them, only one wine glass has broken and it was hubby knocking it over on the counter the next day.

                  1. Agree with the rec to try Jet Dry or a similar product, and use less soap.

                    I highly recommend the Vinum Gourmet (6 1/4 inches high) or Water Glass (5 7/8 inches high) short stem shapes.
                    They have worked well for us in the top rack of dishwashers (can turn completely over rather than need to place at an angle).

                    1. I rinse them with really hot water and then dry with a good lint-free microfiber wine glass towel. I couldn't live without one of these towels. I used to have to polish over 100 glasses a night for work, and it would have been impossible without a microfiber towel. Some brands are better than others. The Riedel one is good but a little pricey. I always put them in the washing machine a couple times to get rid of excess lint when they're new. Always polish glasses before they start to dry - if you use one of these they will be spotless with one swipe. If I have a lot to wash at home I'll run them in the dishwasher without soap just to rinse them off with hot water, and then polish by hand. With a little practice you will be able to do two dozen glasses in about four minutes.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: la2tokyo

                        I have heard that the flour sac towels work well for drying stemware. I cannot comment if this is true or not, because I have been to lazy to pick some up. They are cheap though:


                        Has anyone used them?

                        1. re: dcole

                          I like linen towels best, but all my kitchen towels work fine. I always get a fresh one when drying things by hand, and have no lint issues. Riedel makes a microfiber drying cloth ... I use it to clean my glass table and mirrors. Williams-Sonoma carries them.

                          I wash all my good glassware by hand ... only my everyday drinking glasses go in the dishwasher. I do not wash it immediately, but I do rinse depending on the glass design (some like to collect a pinpoint of whatever you drank in the bottom). I had some freebie glasses that came with some kind of liqueur that did this to the point that I put them in the recycling cart. Those were just badly designed glasses. Some are more trouble than they're worth.

                          I have broken very few glasses over the years ... maybe you need a sturdier model, like maybe the stemless Riedels. I have some vintage Art Deco Libbey glasses that are very sturdy too (and beautiful).

                      2. Anyone know if a stemware drying rack offers any discernible advantage over just turning wine glasses upside down on a towel?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: omotosando

                          If the stemware is fine crystal, you do not want the edges to touch any surface, as that may cause the lip to fracture. Also, regardless of the quality of the crystal, you will get better dryingof the interior portions of the glass through evaporation if there is a gap between the upturned glass and the underlying surface. I don't use a separate stemware drying rack because my dishdrainer includes one that will hold about 4 glasses at anyone time (depending on the size of the bowl).

                          1. re: masha

                            Thanks. I don't have fine crystal -- after breaking too many Riedel glasses, I bought Schott Zwiesel Tritan which are fairly sturdy. I was just wondering if I was going to get less spotting if I hung the glasses versus the turn them over and put them on a dish towel method.

                            If they are going to spot just the same (a function of the hard water I believe), I rather avoid bringing another gadget into my kitchen.

                        2. I wash by hand in very hot water using Seven Generation free and clear dish soap and a sponge that is only used for dishes. Rinse, thoroughly in hot water and then air dry upside down in a dish rack.

                          1. Reviving this topic to advise anyone interested that I've been using a polyester wine cloth that is pretty amazing. I've found it at Wine Exchange, in Tustin, CA, for only $6.99, but the brand is "Epic" and I think they're available on line.

                            These things make quick work of drying and polishing........ and dry incredibly quickly. They're used at both of the winebars where I work.