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How to clean cloudy glasses and glassware

Want to fix your cloudy glasses? Our step-by-step guide will have them gleaming in no time.

Updated

Hands wearing rubber gloves cleaning a wine glass in a kitchen sink

Sipping a cool drink from a sparkling-clean glass is one of life’s small comforts. It’s short-lived, though, when your glasses are covered in a cloudy-white film making them look dull and dirty. But instead of hiding them away at the back of the cupboard, we show you how to clean cloudy glasses using the best techniques and products to deliver the very best results. Get ready to restore that sparkle!

But before we share our top tips, let’s take a look at what’s causing glasses to become cloudy.

What causes cloudiness on glasses?

There are two main reasons why you might find that your glasses have started to look cloudy.

Hard water deposits

Hard water contains a high level of natural minerals, which can sometimes deposit themselves on your glasses. Soap cannot foam as well in hard water, so these deposits aren’t always wholly cleaned off, leaving your glasses looking a little foggy and dull.

Etching

The etching is when parts of the glass are worn down and this can happen due to regular use, being washed and being handled.

However, the etching doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ll slowly start to notice small areas of your glassware that are beginning to look a bit dull quite gradually. Unfortunately, etching is a problem that can’t be fixed easily and in some cases the scratches may be permanent.

You will need:

  • Microfibre cloth
  • Sponge
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Washing-up liquid
  • White vinegar
  • Paper towels

How to clean cloudy glass

If you’re wondering how to clean glasses that have become cloudy, the best way is to hand wash them. It’s the gentlest yet most effective method to care for your glasses, as well as remove any unsightly foggy film. If done regularly, this simple washing technique should be sufficient to prevent further cloudy build-up.

  1. Rinse the glass

    Run the glass under the tap, using warm water, taking care not to run it too hot, or the glass risks cracking.

  2. Add soap

    Add some mild washing-up liquid to the washing-up bowl. Avoid using any harsh bleach-based detergent or perfumed detergent, as these can be abrasive and cause damage to the glass, or linger on the surface.

  3. Scrub the glass

    Using a sponge soaked in the soap and water solution, turn the glass round against the sponge. A handled sponge is preferable to avoid applying too much direct hand pressure onto the glass whilst cleaning

  4. Use vinegar

    Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar to one cup of water and, either using a spray bottle or a paper towel, apply the solution to the glass. The acid within the vinegar will break down any cloudiness. It will also give a more sparkling finish to the glass.

  5. Rinse the glass

    Wash away the vinegar solution using warm water.

  6. Dry the glasses

    Use a microfibre cloth or some kitchen roll to dry them straight away.

Tip: If the glass is particularly cloudy, before washing, add five tablespoons of vinegar to half a bowl of water and leave the glass to soak in the bowl overnight. If you have several glasses, laying paper towels at the bottom of the bowl will protect the glass from being damaged.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

How to clean cloudy wine glasses

Wine glasses are fragile and easily damaged, so it’s recommended you clean your wine glasses by hand, regularly and carefully to prevent them from staining and clouding over. Tempting as it is, it’s not advised that you put wine glasses in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures can cause the glass to crack and the humidity can cause the glass to cloud.

For advice on how to clean a decanter, our top tips show you how. Otherwise, just follow these steps to keep your favourite wine glasses crystal clear.

  1. Create a solution by dissolving five tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water.

  2. Fill the wine glass with the solution and let it stand in the glass for a few minutes.

  3. Hold the bowl of the glass rather than the stem, which can be easily broken. Apply a cloth dampened in the solution to the inside and outside of the glass.

  4. Rinse the glass under warm water, making sure to wash away any residue from the baking soda

  5. Dry the glass using a microfibre cloth or kitchen towel.

Smashed a wine glass and wondering how to dispose of broken glass safely? Our handy guide shows you how.

How to clean cloudy glasses with natural products

The good news is that if your glasses are cloudy because of hard water, then they’re very easy to clean and you won’t need to purchase any specialist cleaning products, either.

Here are a few natural cleaning products you’ve probably already got in your home that will work wonders to brighten your glassware up to leave it looking fog-free and new.

How to clean cloudy glasses using toothpaste

This is an excellent way to get your glasses gleaming again, but it does require a bit of elbow grease! There’s no need to use any of those fancy whitening toothpastes, tartar control concoctions, or colourful gels – a basic white toothpaste will do the job nicely here. As a very, very mild abrasive, toothpaste gently removes that cloudy film while not doing any damage to your glassware, so you can even use this method on any fragile crystal.

  1. Spread some toothpaste onto your glasses (inside and out)

  2. Use an old clean toothbrush (or any brush with stiff bristles) to scrub away at the toothpaste, smearing it all across the glass

  3. Rinse away the toothpaste with some warm water

  4. Dry the glass using a microfibre cloth or kitchen towel

How to clean cloudy glasses using vinegar

White vinegar really is a cleaning essential – it works on everything from dirty pots and pans, cleaning a kettle, smeared windows, to yes, even cloudy glassware. The method is so simple, it’ll take you no time at all.

  1. Fill a bowl with white vinegar (not malt vinegar)

  2. Dip your glasses in the bowl of vinegar for a few seconds and remove. The glasses should come out clean.

  3. Most of the vinegar will evaporate as it dries and with it the smell will start to disappear. However, you can give it a helping hand by rinsing the glass under some warm water.

  4. Dry off the glasses using a microfibre cloth or some kitchen roll.

How to clean cloudy glasses using lemon juice

The naturally occurring citric acid in lemons works well to help dissolve those unsightly streaky white stains left by the mineral build-up from hard water. This method is easy, can be used with fresh lemon juice or concentrate and smells pretty good too,

  1. In a bowl, mix three tablespoons of lemon juice (concentrated or fresh) to one cup of water.

  2. Put the glasses in the solution for five to ten minutes, making sure they are fully submerged.

  3. Remove the glasses and the cloudiness should have vanished.

  4. Rinse the glasses under some warm water

  5. Dry off the glasses using a microfibre cloth or some kitchen roll.

Tip: You can rub a lemon over a freshly washed glass to help remove any cloudy build up as well as get rid of any lingering odours.

Can you put cloudy glasses in a dishwasher?

Only glass, and not crystal, should be washed in the dishwasher. As glasses are delicate and can break easily, it’s not advised that wine glasses go in the dishwasher. Instead, it’s best to wash them by hand. If you do opt to use a dishwasher, it’s advisable to set it at a short cycle, using a small amount of detergent.

Once the wash is finished, open the dishwasher door, to release the humidity and allow the glasses to air dry. Before putting any glasses on a wash cycle, always check that they’re dishwasher safe. If you want to know the best way to load a dishwasher, our guide tells you everything you need to know.

Maintenance for clean glasses

Once you’ve got all your cloudy glassware looking crystal clear again, regular cleaning will slow down the rate at which your glassware becomes dull. If you hand wash your glasses (the recommended method for cleaning wine glasses), add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to your washing up bowl and if you use a dishwasher, add vinegar to the rinse compartment (the place where you usually put your rinse aid).

While this won’t stop your glasses becoming clouded completely, it will reduce the amount of cloudiness and it should take longer for that dullness to build up.

This means you should only need to give your glassware a thorough once over every month or so using the methods listed above, rather than after each use.

Your top questions on how to clean cloudy glasses

How do you clean cloudy acrylic glasses?

First, wash the glasses in a solution of washing-up liquid and warm water, using a sponge to scrub the inside and outside of the acrylic glass. Then fill a large bowl or a sink with white vinegar, transferring the glasses into the liquid and making sure they are submerged. Leave them in the vinegar for ten minutes or until the cloudiness has gone. If it has worked, rinse off the glasses and dry them with a microfibre cloth. Otherwise, you can apply a thin coating of baking soda to the glasses, working it in with a damp sponge before rinsing clean and drying. All the cloudy residue should now be removed.

What is the milky film on glasses from the dishwasher?

The most common cause is hard water. Hard water contains a high level of calcium and magnesium ions, which can build up on the glass, coating it with a foggy-like film.

Also, hard water can reduce the cleaning power of dishwasher detergent, meaning your glasses aren’t getting washed or rinsed correctly and are left with a layer of dirty, soapy water.

To combat the cloudiness, try adding vinegar to the rinse compartment (the place where you usually put your rinse aid). While this won’t stop your glasses becoming clouded completely, it will reduce the amount of cloudiness and it should take longer for that dullness to build up.

Can cloudy glassware be restored?

If your cloudy glasses have been caused by hard water, then there are several effective ways to restore them, most of which use homemade remedies. We’ve already discussed the power of using a water and vinegar solution – which you can either spray on or soak your glasses in, as well as baking soda and straight vinegar.

But there are plenty of other ways to dissolve the cloudy film on your glasses. Try smearing petroleum jelly over the entire glass and leaving it to work in for a few days before wiping off, washing with soap and water and drying.

Alternatively, filling your glass with warm water and dropping in a denture cleaning tablet will help dissolve any white streaky marks. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing out with warm water and drying off with a microfibre cloth or some kitchen roll.

Originally published