How to Make Crystal Glasses Sparkle

The Clemson University Extension website states there are two kinds of cloudiness that affect glassware and crystal: one results when water minerals or detergent form a film on the surface; the second kind is a type of cloudiness called etching, which results from leaching out of metal ions due to soft water or alkaline detergents.

Wash crystal glasses by hand with mild soap and a vinegar rinse.Wash crystal glasses by hand with mild soap and a vinegar rinse.
Keep crystal glassware clean and sparkling with careful washing, using natural products, to prevent film buildup and etching. With proper care, crystal glassware can sparkle for generations to come.

Fill a plastic washbasin half-full with room-temperature water. Crystal may crack in cold or hot water. Add a small amount of mild, natural dish soap.

Wash all the glasses in the soapy solution--one at a time, to avoid chipping--and set each carefully on the counter.

Pour out the soapy water and rinse the washbasin.

Fill the washbasin with room-temperature water and add 1/4 cup of white vinegar. White vinegar's acid content removes film from hard water and harsh soaps from previous washings. Vinegar can't remove film from etching if the crystal surface suffered damage from soft water, dishwasher use or harsh detergents; that damage is permanent.

Pour the plain water-vinegar mix over each glass.

Dry and polish each glass with a clean, soft dishtowel to restore the crystal's sparkle.

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic washbasin
  • Mild, natural dish soap (available from natural food stores)
  • 2 pitchers of room-temperature water (that hasn't been artificially softened, if possible)
  • White vinegar
  • Thick bath towel
  • Dishtowel


  • Examine supposed crystal glasses carefully. Heavy glassware molded to resemble crystal will never achieve quality lead crystal's characteristic sparkle. Touch the designed surface. Cut crystal has a slightly sharp texture, as it is literally cut to create the patterns. Molded glass, while it mimics crystal patterns, has a smooth texture even on the patterned areas.


  • Never use lead crystal to store acidic liquids such as wine, juice or vinegar, as these liquids will take on unacceptable lead content.
  • Never wash crystal in a dishwasher.
  • Don't use dishtowels treated with fabric softener; this leaves a film on crystal.

About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.