Natural ways to clean glass and ceramics

June 23, 2015

Commercial glass cleaners are often chemical cocktails, containing a range of potentially harmful ingredients that can be inhaled or come in contact with the skin. It's not worth taking the risk. Common natural substances such as lemon juice and salt come into their own in the care of glass and ceramics.

Natural ways to clean glass and ceramics

Cleaning glass

  • One of the simplest and least toxic ways to clean mirror and window glass is to spray it with plain soda water, then polish dry.
  • Vinegar and water will clean most windows. Add a little detergent, if you're still getting streaks.
  • Wipe a glass tabletop with lemon juice, then polish it with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Remove scratch marks with toothpaste. Work to and fro with a clean cloth.
  • When washing glassware, add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the rinse water to add extra sparkle.
  • Hand wash glasses in hot water with pure soap. To avoid streaking, rinse and dry straight away. Hold stem-ware by the bowl and not by the more fragile stem.
  • Clean stained, streaky or dirty glass by rubbing with a paste of one part vinegar to one part salt.

Cleaning ceramics

  • Remove baked-on food from glazed earthenware by soaking it in hot, soapy water, then scraping gently with a plastic scourer.
  • Wash unglazed earthenware in hot water only. Detergent will leach into the clay pores and then into your food the next time you cook.
  • Soak unglazed pots with stubborn stains or baked-on food in water with 15 to 60 grams (one to four tablespoons) bicarbonate of soda added. Do not scour.
  • Remove tannin stains from a teapot by filling it with one part bicarbonate of soda to two parts hot water. Leave to stand overnight. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • To remove tea stains from china, rub with crushed salt on a soft cloth.

The truth about glass cleaners

  • Most commercial window cleaners contain ammonia, alcohol and detergents. Some have butyl cellosolve, a chemical that is readily absorbed through the skin and can cause health problems.
  • Metal polishes may contain abrasives such as pumice, as well as volatile and harmful substances such as solvents, kerosene and white spirits. It is considerably less toxic, cheaper and just as effective to make your own cleaners.

Top tip

To clean a narrow-necked glass vase or decanter, add a mixture of rock salt and vinegar, crushed egg shells and vinegar, or tea leaves and vinegar. Swirl around and stand for several hours if necessary. Rinse well.

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