Say goodbye to water spots and smudges on your stemware forever.
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With Easter and Passover around the corner, it’s a safe bet you’re going to be breaking out the nice glasses soon. But nothing ruins a good toast like streaks and water spots that make your stemware look dirty even when it’s not. Wine glasses can be tough to clean and worse, if you don’t do it properly, odors can penetrate the crystal and interfere with the aroma and flavor of the wine you so painstakingly selected.

We asked Maximilian J. Riedel, managing director of the renowned glassware manufacturer Riedel, the best way to keep your stemware sparkling, and it turns out, it’s easier than you’d imagine.


Put them in the dishwasher. No, really.

Lots of fine crystal has traditionally had gold rims or other decorations that prevented them from being machine washable, and that reputation stuck. But Riedel glasses lack those extras, so there’s no need to avoid this shortcut. But you can take the following steps to optimize your machine’s performance:

  • Wash stemware on its own to minimize the risk that a stray pot or knife could crack a glass.
  • Use the air dry setting. It may leave a water mark you have to polish out (see below), but heat drying can dull glasses over time due to miniscule detergent particles in the steam.
  • Make sure your dishwasher has been serviced recently. Dishwashers have moving parts and more importantly, wet ones, which can leave trace odors behind. But if everything’s in good working order, your stemware shouldn’t smell.

Or hand wash them, if you prefer.

It can be more convenient if you don’t have a lot of glasses, or have oversized glasses that won’t fit in a standard dishwasher.

  • Focus on the outside and rim of the glass. The inside of a glass is rarely dirty, says Riedel, but you can swirl a little warm water and dish detergent in it if you prefer.
  • Any detergent will work as long as you rinse thoroughly. And you don’t need more than a drop. In fact, some purists don’t even use soap on their glasses at all.
  • Hold it, preferably low in the sink in case of slippage, by the bowl, never the stem. A twisting movement can snap it right off.

Then dry the right way.

No matter what method you use, water spots are likely, and the only way to tackle them is to gently polish the glass as you dry it.

  • Use a microfiber towel, not a cotton one. These cloths (think of a larger version of the cloth you get to clean your eyeglasses or sunglasses) don’t leave trace fibers behind. Riedel’s version is $16, washable, and reuseable, and will remove streaks and grease like lipstick stains.
  • Use two cloths to hold the glass to avoid leaving fingerprints behind.
  • Steam your glass before polishing. Hold it above a boiling teapot (careful not to burn your fingers) just enough to get the glass steamed up, then polish. You’ll know you’re done when no steam remains, and your glasses will shine. Brilliant!

Bonus: How to Clean Your Decanter

If you decant your wine, you know getting inside these often-curvaceous containers can be tricky. A few tips:

  • Once you empty a decanter, rinse it with warm water, no soap (remember, no one’s lips have touched this vessel, and alcohol is a natural disinfectant). If you can’t get to it immediately, leave it filled with warm water overnight to prevent red wine from staining the glass.
  • Dry the parts you can reach with a microfiber cloth as you would a wineglass. For hard-to-reach spots, you can use Riedel’s decanter beads, which  are designed to remove stubborn stains, or, for the truly fastidious, a hair dryer to prevent water spots and streaks.