3 Tried-and-True Methods for Cleaning Crystal

Learn how to clean crystal without leaving watermarks or smudges. Expert tips for cleaning crystal glasses and chandeliers.

Nothing says luxury like crystal glasses and chandeliers. That being said, cleaning crystal is a little different than cleaning regular glass. But if you know how to care for and maintain your crystal, the extra touch of elegance is worth the effort. 

In this article, we explain how to clean crystal chandeliers and crystal glassware to keep it looking its best.

If you need professional help cleaning hard-to-reach crystal chandeliers or other areas in your home, you can always book a professional, affordable cleaner with Homeaglow.

How to clean crystal glasses

Cleaning a sink full of crystal glasses after a dinner party can feel like an uphill battle (hello, water stains!) Not to worry. Any of these three tried-and-true methods will quickly clean your crystal glasses.

What you’ll need

  • Detergent
  • Mild dish soap
  • Lint-free or microfiber cloth
  • Warm water
  • A soft cloth or sponge
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste (optional)

Method 1: Hand washing your crystal glasses with dish soap

Not all crystal glasses are dishwasher safe. Most run the risk of cracking under the heat and movement of the machine. Check the label or do a quick Google search to see if your glasses are dishwasher-safe. 

If you can’t find any information, play it safe by hand washing them with either dish soap or vinegar. Here’s how to do it with dish soap. 

Step 1: Create your cleaning solution.

  • Mix mild dish soap and warm water to create a solution. Too much soap creates a hazy coating, so use it sparingly. A few squirts of dish soap for a full sink of water is plenty. 
  • Stir the water to combine the solution. 

Step 2: Pad your sink 

To protect your crystal glasses, pad the bottom of your sink with a rubber mat, a soft cloth, or even some paper towels.

Step 3: Submerge your crystal glasses.

  • Put your crystal glasses in the solution. 
  • Give them a few minutes to soak.

Pro tip: Submerge one glass at a time to avoid them clanging together and chipping or breaking. 

Step 4: Hand wash your crystal glasses.

  • Wash each crystal glass with a gentle cloth or sponge to avoid scratching. 
  • Carefully clean the interior and exterior of the glass by gently wiping the sponge or cloth in a circular motion over the crystal's surface.
  • If your glasses have a narrow rim, use a baby bottle brush to maneuver a sponge or soft cloth.
  • If your crystal glassware has engravings, use a soft-bristled toothbrush soaked in the cleaning solution to brush dust and grime out of the etchings.

Step 5: Rinse the crystal thoroughly.

  • Rinse the crystal well with warm, running water to remove any detergent residue. Avoid using cold water to rinse, because the sharp temperature difference might break the glass.
  • Wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on your clean crystal. 

Step 6: Dry and store.

  • Avoid air drying crystal glasses, as this is what causes water spots. Instead, dry your glassware thoroughly with a clean, lint-free towel. 

Method 2: Cleaning crystal glasses with vinegar

Vinegar is a versatile household cleaner that can help you tackle all sorts of cleaning chores, from flat paint walls to sticky residue from mirrors and glass. It’s also a great option for cleaning crystal glasses by hand.

Step 1: Combine vinegar and warm water.

In a sink or large bowl, combine one part vinegar with three parts warm water. To protect the crystal glass from scuffing, line the bottom of your bowl or sink with a soft cloth or paper towel.

Step 2: Soak your crystal glasses.

Soak your crystal glasses in the cleaning solution for five to ten minutes.

Step 3: Clean with a soft cloth.

Use a gentle cloth or sponge to carefully clean each glass in a circular motion.

Step 4: Use a bit of toothpaste or baking soda.

If there are any lingering stains, remove them with a small amount of toothpaste or baking soda on a damp cloth. Keep rubbing the paste on the crystal until you eliminate the stains.

Step 5: Rinse.

Rinse the crystal under warm, running water.  Be careful though — damp hands make it easy to lose your grip!

Step 6: Wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.

To dry your crystal glasses, use a lint-free or microfiber towel. As we mentioned before, air drying isn’t a good option as it tends to leave water spots on crystal. Wear rubber gloves to prevent fingerprints being left behind. 

Method 3: Using a dishwasher

If your crystal glasses are dishwasher safe, use this method to clean them.

Step 1: Load your crystal glasses carefully.

Ensure adequate room between your crystal glasses as they could jiggle and bump against one another during the dishwashing cycle, resulting in damage. Additionally, check to make sure long-stemmed glasses fit comfortably in the rack.

Step 2: Let the crystal glass warm up.

If you use your crystal glasses for cold beverages, wait until they warm to room temperature before running the dishwasher. Crystal glasses can crack or damage by sudden temperature fluctuations.

Step 3: Don’t go overboard on the detergent.

Go easy on the dishwasher detergent and only use the recommended amount. (More is not better here.) Excess detergent can create a foggy coating on your crystal. Whether your water is soft or hard, follow your dishwasher and detergent instructions.

Step 4: Start the dishwashing cycle.

Start the dishwasher and let it complete its regular cycle. Don't open the door or stop the cleaning process mid-cycle. If your dishwasher has a gentle cycle, use it to minimize the chance of damage to your crystal glasses. 

Step 5: Let the dishwasher cool completely before opening.

Letting the dishwasher cool before opening will allow the crystal glasses to dry and curb a sudden temperature change. 

Step 6: Remove the glasses carefully and store them.

Wear gloves to prevent smudges or fingerprints. Wipe the crystal with a lint-free cloth to clean up any lingering water stains.

Cleaning a crystal chandelier

Like crystal glasses, crystal chandeliers bring a sense of elegance to every room. But there’s nothing elegant about cobwebs. Clean your crystal chandeliers regularly to retain their shine.

Cleaning a crystal chandelier is similar to cleaning crystal glasses. 

You’ll need:

  • A microfiber or lint-free cloth
  • A blanket 
  • Distilled water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A spray bottle

Step 1: Prepare your space. Spread a blanket under the chandelier to catch any falling dust or — fingers crossed — broken glass. As a safety measure, also switch off the chandelier. 

Step 2: Make a DIY solution by mixing one part isopropyl alcohol with four parts distilled water. Spray your homemade cleaner onto a fresh, lint-free, or microfiber cloth.

Step 3: Use the moist microfiber cloth to clean each crystal piece gently. 

Step 4: To prevent water stains, use a dry, clean microfiber cloth to remove any residual cleaning solution.

Pro tip: wear white cotton gloves while cleaning to avoid leaving your fingerprints on the crystal prisms.

If your crystal chandelier is out of reach, follow our in-depth guide on how to clean a chandelier on a high ceiling.

How to clean leaded crystal glass for the first time

Most modern crystal glasses are no longer made with lead. But in the event yours are, or if you’re using antique leaded crystal for the first time, you’ll need to take special precautions to prevent lead oxide from leaching into your drinks. Cleaning a new leaded crystal glass by soaking it in vinegar does the trick. 

Here’s how to clean leaded crystal glass for the first time.

Step 1: Carefully immerse your new lead crystal in pure vinegar for at least 24 hours. 

Lead is removed from new crystal glasses by soaking them in a pure vinegar solution. This reduces the amount of lead that leaches into your drinks from the surface of the glass.

Step 2: Next, clean the leaded crystal glasses as you would non-leaded crystal by using any of the above cleaning methods.

Clean crystal like a pro

No matter what form of crystal you have – crystal glasses, chandeliers, or both — you can use the cleaning methods in this article to make them shine in no time. 

Need help keeping on top of your house cleaning tasks? With Homeaglow, you can easily book an affordable, top-rated cleaner in your area. Read reviews, compare your options, and schedule online in minutes.

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