Simple solutions to keep your crystal clean

July 28, 2015

Never put crystal in the dishwasher. It is too fragile and soft for the dual action of dishwasher and detergent, which can etch and dull its surface. To preserve the sparkle of crystal, always hand wash it — unless it has silver or gold gilt, in which case you should use warm water only, no soap.

Simple solutions to keep your crystal clean

1. To wash crystal

  • Line the bottom of your sink with a doubled-up towel or rubber mat, fill the sink with warm water — not hot — and add 2–3 drops of dishwashing liquid.
  • Wash one item at a time.
  • Grasp glassware by the bowl, not the stem, and wash gently.
  • A bartender's trick is to pump the glass up and down in warm water to rinse.
  • Dry upside down on a lint-free cotton dish towel or vinyl-coated dish drainer.
  • Better yet, put clean thick gloves or cotton socks over your hands and dry the crystal immediately with an old linen tea towel. This way, you'll leave no fingerprints or watermarks.

2. To remove stains

Try this three-pronged approach:

  • First, mix a paste of lemon juice and baking powder and rub gently on the crystal with a sponge, then wash and dry. (Baking powder is about as abrasive as you can get with crystal without risking damage.)
  • Tougher stains may be riced: Put 10 ml (2 tsp) of uncooked rice into the crystal piece, add water and swirl. Repeat, if need be.
  • For stubborn stains, fill the crystal receptacle with warm water and drop in a denture tablet.

3. Tricks worth considering:

  • Try the conservator's way of cleaning crystal. Mix equal parts methylated spirits and water and then add a few drops of ammonia. Apply the solution to the crystal with cotton cosmetic pads or those lint-free pads you use to clean a fax machine (available from office supply stores). Rinse and dry. (Don't try this on gilded crystal.).
  • To dry a decanter or vase, use a hand-held hair dryer (onCoolsetting). Otherwise, it can take up to three or four days to air dry a decanter without the stopper.
  • For extra shine, add 50 ml (1/4 cup) of borax, white vinegar or lemon juice to the rinse water.
  • To wash the grooves of cut crystal, dip a frayed toothbrush into lemon juice, vinegar or soapy water, and scrub.
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