How to Properly Care For Your Glassware


It’s no surprise that when it comes to household contents, some items are more fragile than others. One of the most delicate objects you can find in a home is glassware, which can crack, deteriorate, or otherwise become damaged if not looked after properly. Whether you own glassware for casual dining, entertaining, or just for decoration, here are a few tips to keep your glass items safe and shining for years to come.

Everyday glassware, from all-purpose drinkware to casual stemware, should be stored in a dry, dust, and pest-free environment. Glassware can be stored rim-side up or down, and there are arguments to be made for both methods. If you haven’t already taken a side, it’s best to assess your particular environment and storage needs.

Storing glassware rim-side down can prevent dust particles from accumulating and mitigate the need to rinse a glass before use. While this method may keep glasses a bit fresher (and even save some space), there are some drawbacks. Oftentimes, the rim of a glass is the thinnest and most delicate area, making it less suitable to bear the overall weight of the glass. Glasses also tend to be more well-balanced when they are right-side up. Ultimately, whether you prefer to store your glassware rim-side up or down, the choice is up to you!

Though you might be tempted to crowd your cabinets with as many glasses as possible, it’s best to let them breathe and allow for some wiggle room. This not only prevents scratches, but also accidental breakage.

For more delicate or long-stemmed glasses, consider hand-washing. Though tedious, washing by hand can extend the life of your glassware and prevent soap buildup. Avoid dish washing altogether for valuable or historic glassware. The high temperatures, water pressure, and harsh detergents involved can cause irreversible damage and cloudiness.

While glass can generally tolerate normal temperature changes, especially humid or dry environments can be harmful and accelerate glass disease and deterioration. Signs of glass disease include slickness, cloudiness, and in some instances, “weeping”. Sweating or weeping occurs when atmospheric humidity interacts with moisture inherent in the glass. This reaction causes droplets of alkali solution to leach out and form beads on the surface.

Though some collectors choose to display their art glass in a vitrine or tucked away altogether, in most cases, this isn’t necessary. Fragile and chemically-unstable glass should be closely monitored and in some cases, kept in a temperature and humidity controlled vitrine or case. That said, when storing glass for safe keeping or transport, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Original packing materials can be very useful for packing glassware, so if you have space, consider holding onto them! As with most things, when in doubt, consult a professional!

Featured Image: French Etched Clear Glass Decanter and Barware Service, Baccarat, France, 1927-1970, in the “Michaelangelo” pattern