Crystal Care and Cleaning Tips
Quite often we get asked how to clean crystal. Here is some information that we hope you’ll find helpful.
Is it Crystal or is it Glass?
Crystal is glass that has lead oxide in it. The reason for adding the lead oxide is to increase the density of the glass which in turn will make the glass more reflective and add brilliance. The more lead in the glass, the more colors that are reflected. You may also notice that some crystal is heavier than others. This is because the more lead, the heavier the piece.
Hand made crystal glass will usually always have a few small “seed bubbles”. This happens when rising air gets trapped when the crystal is being made. These air bubbles can only be seen when a piece of crystal is held up to a strong light. This is a good sign that your piece was more than likely hand crafted.
Other signs of handcrafted crystal are chill marks (indentations on the surface of the glass) and flow lines. None of these constitute a flaw in the piece, but rather a sign of hand crafting.
Even the finest crystal will have minor variations in clarity, occasional bubbles, chill marks and flow lines. These are inevitables in hand blown and molded crystal.
Crystal is also “soft” because of the lead content. It will be important for you to know how to care for your crystal as even dust can act as an abrasive and cause scratches.
General Crystal Care Tips
- Store your crystal where it won’t touch other items.
- Do not store crystal glasses upside down as it can put stress to the rim, which is very delicate.
- Carry your pieces one at a time rather than carrying as a bunch by the stems.
- If your crystal breaks and you can save it, use a clear-drying epoxy that was made just for glass and glue it back together. Then set in the sun for a bit to help the bonding process.
Crystal Cleaning Tips
- Dust can act as an abrasive and can “scratch” the surface. Make sure you only clean with a mild detergent and use a lint free cloth for drying.
- For glasses with gold rims or an edge design, never soak in solutions containing ammonia. Stick to using a mild detergent only.
- Always hand wash when possible or if you are brave enough to put your crystal in the dishwasher (not recommended), make sure you use a very gentle cycle and mild detergent. When washing by hand and after rinsing, fill the bowls or flutes with clean hot water and leave them sit until you are ready to dry them. Using a clean cotton dish towel will polish and clean a warm wet glass very quickly. If you let the glasses air dry and then try to dry them you can wind up with smears and streaks on the glass.
- When washing, use only warm water AND rinse with warm water. Quick changes in temperature can cause cracking or clouding.
- If you notice that your crystal has a haze or clouding look to it and are having trouble removing it, you need to move to the next level and try cleaning with a hard water stain remover such as CLR or Lime Away. Some people have even used #000 very fine steel wool with a mild dish detergent to remove stubborn haze. But I wouldn’t resort to the steel wool unless none of the other solutions worked.
- When washing, make sure you have a rubber mat in the sink bottom, or a towel just in case your hands are slippery and the glass drops.
- Wash your crystal before food can harden. This will make it much easier to clean without having to put hard pressure on the item or scrap it causing scratches.
- Add a little vinegar to the dish water to keep hard water spots from appearing.
Crystal is a beautiful keepsake that can be handed down from generation to generation. Taking these extra steps will preserve your crystal for years to come!