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Sep 28, 2011 04:55 PM

Washing your wine glasses - delicate glassware and no residual smells?

I'd like to hear from everyone with all-too-breakable glassware, like Riedel Sommelier or similar, about how you wash your wine glasses. The two concerns being avoiding breakage, and avoiding odors left in the glass from sour dish towels, detergents, etc. Mr. MM refuses to use our Riedel because he's broken too many, and even I (have broken just one in many years of use) shy away on some nights because I just don't want to deal with cleaning them.

I'm perfectly capable of cleaning my glasses, without breakage and stink free, for special occasions. But I really would like to hear tips to make it easier, so I am more likely to use the good stuff on a weeknight.


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  1. Hold them by the bowl when washing (not the stem). Use clean dishrag and dishtowels.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Not very helpful. This is all pretty basic stuff I already know and do.

      1. re: MelMM

        What exactly were you expecting for advice? What Brad outlined is about all the advice you need. The only thing I would go further with is to not use fabric softeners or scented laundry detergent when you're doing the dish towels.

        1. re: wattacetti

          I want to know what people who use good glassware on a nightly basis do. I already do not use scented detergent or fabric softener. But my dishtowels do go sour within a day, because I live in a very humid climate. I want to know if anyone has come up with any easier methods. For example, a lady who works at a local wine shop, says she just rinses her glasses out with hot water. For me, this has not worked, because they don't really get clean enough, and oils from the food, transferred to one's lips, are then transferred to the glass. I find hot water insufficient to get this off. I guess I'm just hoping against all hope that there is something out there I haven't heard yet.

          1. re: MelMM

            Hot water and baking soda for those lipstick applications; don't rub too hard. You'll just have to cycle your towels unless you have a heated towel rack (which will only delay by the way).

            1. re: wattacetti

              No lipstick around here, just fat from a pork shoulder. Note taken on the baking soda, thanks.

              1. re: MelMM

                Dry with plain white paper towels rather than a cloth.

            2. re: MelMM

              Just use FRESH dish towels . . . no problem. OTOH, don't let your husband wash the glasses. (I don't let my wife, either -- she, too, have broken too many.)

              1. re: zin1953

                Oh, he's not washing any more glasses, that's for sure. The only problem with that arrangement is that I'm stuck doing it all the time.

              2. re: MelMM

                I have many Sommelier series glasses and wash them in the manner described by Brad. I've never broken one and they're going on 7+ years of regular use (2-3 times per week?)

                I hold them by the bowl, use Dawn antibacterial soap and a blue sponge with blue scrubby surface. Wash in really hot water, rinse well and generally let them air dry. Touch up dry with a clean paper towel. Handle gently but firmly. No residual smells, lip marks, finger prints....nada.

                1. re: Dee S

                  Really, smells are not my problem. I get good results by using a clean towel and washcloth, or air drying when I can. And my breakage rate is low. But since Mr. MM's is not, I'm stuck with washing duty every time. It gets old. I wish there were an easier way.

        2. I wash my crystal stems in a sink with hot water and a little (a little!) soap and water as hot as I can stand.

          I rinse them (WELL) in more hot water and invert them on a clean dishtowel and leave them for 10-15 minutes, until the outside of the bowls are dry. (they're pretty warm, so evaporation goes fairly quickly)

          Then I turn them right-side up and let them stand overnight. In the morning, I give them a rub with a clean paper towel to remove any residual water spots and put them away.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            I like to air dry mine as well. But I only do it when I know i can put them up before I go to bed. I have cats, so I don't feel comfortable leaving them overnight on the counter. Around 3:30 - 4:00 am, the cats will get to flying around the house, leaping wildly from surface to surface. Not a safe environment for delicate glassware. Actually, the cats don't really go on the counter, but when I wake up and hear them dashing around, I can't sleep again until the glasses are safely in the cabinet. I have wondered about the racks that are made for drying wine glasses upside down, and if they are worthwhile.

            1. re: MelMM

              Totally understand that -- I only have an overgrown oaf of a dog whose favorite nighttime activity is snoring. Loudly.

              1. re: MelMM

                i store my glasses in hanging racks upside down.

            2. Efferdent. Works great with glasses and decanters!

              1 Reply
              1. re: KitchenDemon

                Interesting idea! I use it for my hydration bladders that I use when I kayak and trail run. Never thought about using it on my glassware. Makes a lot of sense for a decanter.

              2. I once broke a Baccarat wine glass just drying it gently with a linen dishtowel. Foolishly, I thought it would be safer with me than in the dishwasher. Now I wash good crystal in the top rack of the dishwasher, well-secured by placing my El Cheapo Ikea tumblers next to each piece so it can't move during washing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Querencia

                  Just curious - what kind of dishwasher you have? The top rack of mine is not spacious enough for a tall glass, but I know some models are. Also some glassware makers are advertising being dishwasher safe (like Zalto), because they are making them without lead (the lead will cause the glasses to get cloudy from the dishwasher). I would consider using the dishwasher if the glasses would fit and if I got some lead free ones.

                2. Hi, Mel:

                  Perhaps this is obvious, but no one has yet mentioned the insertable sponge wands/mops made specifically for wine glasses. Provided they're not too large for the mouths of your stems, they're low-stress on the glass. They're "closed cell", so they do not tend to sour. If you keep two or more, you can also drape your fresh, thin, cotton towel over a dry wand, and dry/de-spot with them.

                  You might give these a try. The set I have came with 1 for glasses (sort of an unhappy medium), 1 for tulips, and 1 bendable one for decanters.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    We use unscented dish soap, the insertable sponge/mops for wine glasses, and air drying (inverted on a clean towel). We clean up everything EXCEPT wine glasses the night before--this has really decreased the breakage rate...even a bit of alcohol makes you clumsy, so better to wait until morning.

                    1. re: zamorski

                      I agree -- you don't have to be drunk to be able to drop a glass or crash it into something else.

                      Usually by the time I'm cleaning up after a dinner party, I'm tired, it takes even less to make me more klutzy than I already am.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Thanks for mentioning those wands, kaleo. I've been wondering about them. My usual ritual with tulip-shaped glasses is dish soap/hot water/sponge, followed by rinse and upside-down air dry. But often there's inexplicably some residue left behind in the bottom of the bowl. I think this wand treatment might be the solution, and I'm really thinking now of getting at least one.

                    2. re: kaleokahu

                      Kaleo, I have not tried these, so I will definitely look into them. That is exactly the kind of tip I was looking for. I can clean the glasses smell-free now, but want to make the process easier and more foolproof as far as breakage goes. This seems worthwhile to try.