How to clean glassware: removing stains and labels from glass

Looking for the best way to get your glassware sparkling clean? Find tips for removing streaks, stains and sticky labels from your glasses here!

Updated 1 July 2019

Several clean tumblers on blue background after removing stains and labels from the glass

Key Steps:

  1. Avoid using the dishwasher to clean glassware, especially expensive wine sets or handmade crystal. Read our article on diswashers vs hand washing to understand when it's right to use each method.
  2. Purchasing a glass cleaner is a good investment as you can also use it on your windows and mirrors.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a natural solution, such as vinegar, to remove stains. Standard washing up liquid can also work well when cleaning glassware - find out more about washing up liquid products in our article.

Beautiful, sparkling glassware can light up a room, but over time hard water and soap can cloud or dull their surface. Fortunately, there are various methods for removing these stains, and even some nifty ways to get rid of those sticky shop labels from your new bowls and tumblers. Here are a few hints and tips for bringing back the shine to your glassware.

The ideal way to clean glasses is to hand wash them with hot water and a small amount of a dishwashing liquid like Persil. Use a lint-free, soft cloth when drying your glassware to avoid scratching the surface, and remember to read the directions on the label of your cleaning product before using.

How to Clean Glass

Even in your everyday glass-cleaning routine, you need to take care to protect your glassware by using the right techniques to both remove dirt and prevent stains from occurring.

  • Clean glasses by hand. Ideally, glasses – particularly expensive wine sets or handmade crystal – should be hand-washed to keep them mark-free and to reduce the risk of damage. Dishwashers can contribute to the problem of staining, as frequent use means soap residues build up and leave a film on glass surfaces.
  • Good technique goes a long way. When cleaning glass by hand, use hot water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid to get rid of daily grease. Rinse straight away and leave to air dry with the rim resting on a clean tea towel. If you have to wipe your glasses dry straight away, use lint-free material, such as a microfibre or glass cleaning cloth.

How to Remove Stains from Glassware

Hard-water marks and organic residue (like coffee and wine stains) can be removed from your glasses in the same way. There are various household substances that prove effective on glassware, such as baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. You can also use the same type of glass cleaner that you might use on windows or mirrors to help remove tough stains.

For organic stains or slight marks you could try cleaning glass with:

  • Baking soda and a soft-bristle brush – such as an old toothbrush – to scrub problem areas individually.
  • A solution of equal parts white vinegar and distilled water, for glasses that are generally cloudy or dull. Leave to soak for at least 12 hours and then air dry.
  • Alternatively, sprinkle a few tablespoons of vinegar or glass cleaner on a tea towel and wipe each piece, making sure you wash them as normal afterwards.

For specific advice for different types of glassware, read our other expert tips on:

How to Get Rid of Sticky Labels on Glass 

Shop-bought glasses, as well as recycled bottles and jars, often come with a label that can be hard to remove. An effective household solution is usually applying an oil or alcohol-based product – such as vegetable oil or nail polish remover – but for really stubborn deposits, there is also a range of specialist glue and label removers. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. First, soak the jar or glass in hot water, until the water cools.
  2. If the label has been attached with water-based glue, you might find it peels off easily at this stage. If not, put a little of your chosen removing agent on a cloth and press it over the label, making sure every part has absorbed some of the liquid.
  3. Allow to soak for ten minutes, and rub off with the cloth.
  4. Really persistent marks can be tackled by submerging the glass in a vinegar solution or cooking oil overnight, then using a specialist glass cleaner to rub it off.
  5. Wash the glasses in dishwashing detergent and leave to dry.

As always, remember to wear protective clothing when handling any cleaning product and keep rooms well ventilated, and the glass cleaning process should go quickly and smoothly! If you need to remove lables from glass bottles to reuse them then make sure you read our article on how to sterilise glass bottles too!

Originally published 19 July 2018