How to clean glass vases inside and out

Whether they're for flowers or are just decorative you don't want your glass vases to be cloudy! These tips explain how to clean glass vases inside and out.

Glass vases are always lovely with freshly-cut flowers in them. After a few days, however, those flowers may leave a scummy ring on the inside of your vase, while other vases become cloudy from a build-up of mineral deposits in your water. Cleaning glass vases may seem daunting, as you can find yourself creating more smudges than you fix, but never fear: here’s a guide on how to clean a vase both inside and out.

When soaking or simply scrubbing your vase, place it inside a plastic tub to avoid accidental chips or cracks. Test any products (especially homemade cleaning solutions) on a small, unnoticeable area of your vase to check that they will work and are not too abrasive.

How to Clean Glass Vases: Inside

There are lots of tricks for getting to the interior of your vase. The simplest way would be to soak it in warm soapy water and use a soft-bristled bottlebrush to scrub away at the inside. If the rings or mineral deposits won’t budge, you can try any of these suggestions for cleaning vases inside: 

  • A targeted glass cleaner. If you’re wondering how to clean a glass that is cloudy, scummy or smudgy, this is the easiest way to clean it inside and out. Choose a spray, so that you can simply spritz the product directly into the bottom. Leave for a minute or so, then wipe. Whatever product you use, be sure to check the label first and follow any instructions. Find out more about cleaning glassware here.
  • Effervescent denture-cleaning tablets — You can buy these from most chemists or supermarkets. Fill your vase with warm water up past any rings or limescale deposits, and drop in one or two effervescent tablets. These should fizz and work away at the interior of your vase, leaving it sparkling clean. Use a bottlebrush to scrub the vase walls clean of any remaining deposits. 
  • Baking soda and vinegar — This is another great fizzy solution. Fill your vase with warm water, add in a tablespoon or two of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), and add some white distilled vinegar. Immediately, this will start fizzing and eating away any mineral deposits. Scrub with a bottlebrush if necessary, but don’t lean too close to the fizzing – you don’t want the vinegar to splash into your eyes.
  • Salt and vinegar paste — Take 1/2 tablespoon of salt and mix in vinegar to create a paste. Use a bottlebrush or wooden spoon to spread the paste on any scummy rings or mineral deposits inside your vase. Let this sit for 15-30 minutes, and then scrub off.
  • Rice, warm soapy water, and vinegar — Fill your vase part-way with warm soapy water. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar, and a handful of uncooked rice. Cover the top of the vase and swirl it around for a few minutes, so the rice scrapes away at the inside of the vase. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight, occasionally swirling the vase or stirring the insides. Pour it out, rinse with warm water, and the interior of your vase should be clean.

Cleaning Glass Vases: Outside

Now that you know how to clean a glass vase on the inside, the outside is even easier. If you’ve already soaked your vase, the exterior should also be clean. But here are some specific tips to get the outside of your vase shining bright.

  • Glass cleaner — As before, this is the quickest and easiest way to clean vases. Just spray on and wipe off: simple! You’ll also find the results much less pungent than vases cleaned with vinegar (see below).
  • Vinegar — Vinegar is a very effective solvent, and adding it to your cleaning regime will add a sparkle to your vases and glassware. Spray the outside of your vase with a solution of vinegar and warm water, and air-dry before polishing.
  • Lemon — The acid in lemon juice also works to eat away at any deposits. Cut a lemon and rub the exposed flesh over the outside of your vase. Or mix a paste of lemon juice and salt, and rub this on the outside of your vase. Rinse thoroughly with hot water – leftover lemon juice will be sticky and attract dust.
  • Buffing with crumpled newspapers — After rinsing the vases, you can wipe them dry with wads of crumpled newspaper. Then use fresh crumpled newspapers for a final polish. For a quick polish, dip crumpled newspapers in a warm vinegar-water solution, or spritz on a cleaner, and use the paper on the exterior of your vase. Repeat with dry newspapers.

With these tips, you no longer need to wonder how to clean a glass vase that is cloudy. Cloudy vases, scummy vases, vases in need of a simple, quick polish — the suggestions above will leave them all sparkling like new.