How to Wash Your Antique Glassware

If you have some prized pieces of delicate antique glassware, or even antique glass that doesn't seem particularly delicate, there is one vital rule of thumb to remember for keeping it in good condition: do not place it in the dishwasher! The water in these appliances usually gets very hot, and the type of dishwashing soap used can be abrasive. Many pieces of antique glassware are fragile, but no matter how sturdy any piece seems, the rigors of a dishwasher can have detrimental effects on the glass, and can actually reduce its value as well as its beauty.

Nor, in fact, should you clean those pieces in the sink, as you'd wash your regular dishes. Even that can distress the glass beyond what is good for it. Start instead with two plastic dishpans. Fill the first pan with warm (not hot) water, putting a small amount of very mild detergent in it, and fill the second pan just with the warm water, for rinsing purposes after you've cleaned each glass item. For the detergent, you do not want something that contains bleach, nor do you want any sort of soap that has an abrasive element.

The surface of your glass can be delicate enough that those things could mar it irreparably. Check the cleaning soap for ingredients, and avoid anything that contains ammonia or phosphates. And because of the delicacy and fragility of many of these glass pieces, you should also use a very soft washcloth.

Have the pieces sitting nearby on the counter, not touching each other so they can't nick or mark each other. It's important to maintain a distance among all the pieces, because you simply don't know what sorts of marks they might make if they touch each other. This may also affect how you store the individual pieces as well.

Take the first glass item and dip it into the warm water with detergent in it. If necessary, you may have to let it soak for a few minutes to make sure you can remove any excess oils or dust. As you wash all the surfaces of the item with the soft washcloth, be as gentle as you can and don't press too hard. Once the piece is clean, lay it in the second pan and turn it very gently to rinse all the soap off.

When the rinsing is complete, do not rub the glass ware with a towel to dry it. Beyond having to use the dishcloth to wash the item, it's best if you rub it as little as possible. Instead, the drying can be accomplished by clearing a wide area on the counter or your table, and setting a couple of layers of towels on that space. This is where you place each glass item, upside down if possible, to let them dry naturally. The towels will provide some protection in case any of the pieces somehow tips over, but they will also help the water drain. And as always, the pieces should not touch each other.

The older or finer your glass, the more delicate it's likely to be. If you follow cautious practices in keeping your glass ware clean, you can preserve it without damage for a very long time.