How to Care for Antique Glass

Using, Cleaning and Storing Old Crystal, Pressed and Cut Glassware

The antique glass may be more stable than contemporary glassware, but it still needs special care and attention when it comes to cleaning, using and storing it.

Very old glass from the 18th and 19th century has a chemical and physical formulation that makes it quite stable. While contemporary glass can break much easier, the antique glass would have to fall onto a hard floor or be struck to break it. All glass will break, however, so while antique glass may be stronger, it is also more valuable and that alone means more care should be given when it’s handled.

Handling Antique Glass

An antique glass should be handled with both hands. Wine glasses should be held with one hand on the stem and another on the bowl of the glass. Antique glass pitchers should be held with one hand on the handle and the other around its main body.

Never let water sit too long in a crystal or cut glass vase. It will leave a ring as it evaporates. Change the water daily, to keep it topped up and fresh. An antique glass should not be cleaned with abrasive cleansers, but without abrasive cleansers that white ring left behind by the minerals in the water may be difficult to remove. Avoiding those rings will keep the glass clear.

Use candles that don’t drip or run in antique glass candle holders, and the wax should never be allowed to burn all the way down. The heat from the candle can damage the glass top that holds the candle.

Cleaning Antique Glass

It is best not to wash the antique glass in a stainless steel sink with a stable faucet. The glass can easily hit the faucet and break. The glass can slip out of hands and fall on the stainless steel, or simply break as it bumps into other items that may be in the sink. Antique glass needs to be washed one piece at a time, not in the dishwasher and not with other dishes in the sink.

A plastic container with a folded towel at the bottom is the best sink for antique glass, with using a soft cloth and a mild dishwashing liquid. Both glass and water should be at room or even temperatures without being too hot or too cold.

When drying an antique glass, place a soft towel on the kitchen counter to act as padding, and use a lint-free dishtowel to hand dry and polish the glass.

Storing Antique Glass

The glass is best stored in a china cabinet of glass cupboard. The shelves should be lined with felt. Plates should be stacked with felt or cloth between them. Wine glasses should be placed upside down on each shelf without touching.

An antique glass should be used and enjoyed, rather than hidden away for special occasions. They just need to be used with a little more care and attention. And knowing how to care for antique glass will give it’s owners a lifetime of use.