Tips for Cleaning Wine Glasses to Really Make Them Shine

Enjoy crystal-clear stemware with the help of this cleaning guide.

Published December 2, 2022
Young woman polishing a glass

You're having a party. Time to get ready for family and friends, and you can't forget the wine. But you pulled out your wine glasses, and they are less than perfect. Cloudy wine glasses and water spots happen to the best of us. Don't let your wine tasting suffer. Grab your gloves and get to work.

Get simple steps to wash wine glasses by hand and in the dishwasher. Because yes, you can put them in the dishwasher, and you'll learn to dry them to a spot-free shine.

How to clean wine glasses infographic

How to Handwash Wine Glasses

You've got a party, like now, and your wine glasses have seen better days. Handwashing is your best bet when you need them sparkling and looking like the day you unboxed them. You'll need the following:

  • Plush towel
  • Clean cloth
  • Scent-free soap
  • Bottlebrush or stemware brush
  • Microfiber cloth

Do you have a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur coming over? Avoid any side-eye from the expert by making sure to clean out your sink first. You don't want any musty smells on your glasses. Then, you're ready to start hand washing all your run-of-the-mill stemmed and non-stemmed wine glasses.

  1. Soapy glass is never your friend, so line the bottom of your sink with a plush towel in case anything slips.
  2. Fill the sink with hot water.
  3. Dip the glass in the water cradling it by the bowl.
  4. Add a small drop of soap to your cloth and work it in.
  5. Wipe out around the outside and the rim.
  6. Use the stemware brush to gently scrub the bowl.
  7. Rinse well with hot water. Pay special attention to any areas where you apply soap.

It's essential to make sure to remove all soap residue so it doesn't taint your next glass of wine.

Precautions to Take With Crystal Glasses

Are you having a special occasion? Then why not break out the delicate crystal wine glasses? However, you'll want to take a few precautions when washing fine crystal.

  • Always hand wash.
  • Consider lining the sides of the sink with towels for more cushion.
  • Use warm, not hot, water to avoid cracking.
  • Wash one glass at a time.

Tips for Flutes and Champagne Glasses

You went to wash your flutes, and your brush just didn't fit. That's a common problem. Flutes and Champagne glasses are narrower than your average wine glass. Therefore, you might want to consider getting a flute brush for cleaning out the inside by hand.

Additionally, steer clear of the soap. Just use hot water and a clean cloth to clean the rim. Several experts point out that soap can affect the bubbling when drinking Champagne or sparkling wine. Clean, hot water and scrubbing are definitely enough to keep those germs at bay.

Put Wine Glasses in the Dishwasher

Have you heard to never put wine glasses in the dishwasher? Well, it's actually a myth. While you wouldn't want to put your fine crystal in there, most wine glasses are fine to be put in the dishwasher with a bit of extra care. You need to have the following on hand.

Woman's hand putting wine glass in the washer
  • Dishwashing tablet
  • Rinse aid

This might be the safer route if you are prone to breaking stuff when handwashing. Just follow these steps.

  1. Clear out the dishwasher completely. Washing only your wine glasses ensures other dishes don't fall on them.
  2. Place all your delicate glasses in the top rack, preferably in a glass holder.
  3. Sturdier glasses can be put on the bottom.
  4. Place them face down. Make sure they do not touch each other.
  5. Adjust the position of the rack to accommodate those that have longer stems. Make sure to situate them so they will not get hit by spray arms.
  6. Add your detergent and rinse aid.
  7. Set the dishwasher for a delicate cycle and air dry.

How to Clean Cloudy Wine Glasses With White Vinegar

Do you have filmy wine glasses, even after washing? You don't need to chuck them in the garbage. Getting film off is pretty easy with a little white vinegar.

Wine glasses soaking in white vinegar
  1. Grab a container that will fully submerge the glass.
  2. Put a towel down to create a cushion.
  3. Fill it with white vinegar.
  4. Allow the glass to soak in it for an hour or so.
  5. Scrub the glass with a cloth and a bit of soap.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  7. Repeat as needed.
  8. Dry with a microfiber cloth.

This method also removes stains on wine glass rims and wine stains inside wine glasses.

How to Remove Stubborn Stains on Wine Glasses With Baking Soda

A little white vinegar is a miracle worker when it comes to wine stains in glasses. But that's not to say you won't come across those stubborn stains on the inside of the bowl. Use the cleaning power of baking soda to your advantage.

  1. Fill the bowl with white vinegar.
  2. Add a spoonful of baking soda.
  3. Allow it to react.
  4. Scrub the inside of the bowl with your stemware brush and cloth.
  5. Rinse and repeat until all stains are gone.

Tips for Cleaning Odd-Shaped Glasses and Decanters

Are you trying to clean an odd-shaped flute or a decanter? Getting into those crevices can prove difficult with the brush. You can try a few methods.

Vinegar and Ice

You've done everything to get those sides, from a scrub brush to wrapping a microfiber cloth around a spatula, but nothing is working. It's time to grab the white vinegar and a bit of crushed ice.

  1. Put equal parts white vinegar and water in the bottom of the glass or decanter.
  2. Allow it to sit for 10 or so minutes.
  3. Add a few pieces of crushed ice and gently rotate.
  4. Rinse and scrub.

You can also substitute rice if crushed ice isn't available.

Salt and Ice

Is your glass a bit thicker? Sturdy glasses and decanters can take a more thorough cleaning. Grab some salt and ice.

  1. Put a pinch of salt and crushed ice in the glass or decanter.
  2. Give it a few good shakes to help scrub the crevices.
  3. Rinse and repeat as needed.

It's important to clean your glasses and decanters out often. Don't wait until you have a film or crust building up.

How to Dry Wine Glasses

It's perfectly fine to air-dry your wine glasses, but you might get water spots. Instead, consider grabbing a couple of microfiber clothes and getting to work.

  1. Use one microfiber cloth to hold the glass to avoid fingerprints.
  2. Dry and polish with the other microfiber cloth.

If you already have a few water spots, boil some water and hold the glass over it to get it steamy. Dry it off quickly.

Tips to Keep Your Wine Glasses Clean

Wine glasses are delicate, and many people are leery of washing them, especially crystal stemware. But, with a gentle hand, some rubber gloves, and a few tips, you can keep them sparkling for a lifetime.

Woman rinsing a wine glass under a kitchen faucet
  • Rinse them immediately after use.
  • Hold the glass lower in the sink so it doesn't have as far to fall if you drop it.
  • Use one hand to hold the glass when handwashing.
  • Avoid placing it on a metal or wood rack to dry.
  • Store in a closed cabinet.

Simple Ways to Clean Any Wine Glass in Your Cabinet

Getting party-ready means dusting off those wine glasses, but you might be a bit apprehensive about washing your special stemware from your Aunt Tess. Give these tips a try for cleaning your wine glasses inside and out. Remember to rinse well with warm water to ensure your cleaners don't appear in your wine's flavor.

Tips for Cleaning Wine Glasses to Really Make Them Shine