December 28, 2016

Don’t throw out that cloudy crystal

Crystal is very delicate, owing to the lead oxides used to make it dense and sparkly. The very lead oxide that makes your crystal reflective, causes the glass to be softer, and prone to scratches.

Crystal should be hand washed, using warm (not hot) water to wash and rinse, as it is sensitive to temperature changes.

If you have cloudy crystal,  I would first try a small amount of plain old white vinegar, diluted a bit with water, on a very soft cloth. (A very well used cloth baby nappy of the flannelette kind would be perfect, or an old, thin tee shirt). Wipe the cloudy area gently, and rinse immediately with tepid water, not cold.

If the glasses are gold-rimmed, take care not to get vinegar on the rims.

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 and you are willing to make the problem worse!

If ordinary vinegar doesn’t do the trick, Planet Natural has a non-toxic lime removal product, called Lime Eater. Removes lime and calcium buildup, soap scum, water spots and rust without fumes or harsh mineral acids. Great for cleaning showers, tubs, sinks, fixtures and glass soiled by frequent contact with water. Natural lime scent.

Cloudy glass is called ‘Sick glass’ and denture tablets may be able to clean them.  Fill a basin with water then add four denture tablets and let glasses stand until the cloudiness disappears.

Try a mixture of lemon juice and carb soda, or a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar, brushing with a very soft toothbrush.

If you live in an area with a high water calcium, you might have other calcium/lime build-ups such as on your cutlery, coffee plunger or kettles.

This method serves two purposes by cleaning out the dishwasher and removing the white mineral residue from glassware. Put all of your glassware into the dishwasher and place a bowl with 1-1/2 cups of liquid chlorine bleach in the bottom. Do not add dishwasher detergent. Run the dishwasher through the wash and rinse cycles but not the dry cycle. Next, empty the bowl and add 1-1/2 cups of white vinegar and run the dishwasher through the wash, rinse and dry cycles. If you have a heavy mineral buildup, you may need to do this a few times, then keep it up with a monthly or bi-monthly cleaning, depending upon what best suits your needs.

DO NOT PUT SILVERWARE IN WITH THIS WASH as the chemicals will strip off the plating.

If you have broken crystal stemware and it still has a bit of a bell shape, do as I did and drill a hole (with a Dremel diamond drill) through where the stem should be and add some old guitar strings and large beads and make a wind chime!


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  1. We have some very nice crystal wine glasses, and after a few months in our china cabinet they become cloudy? My questions are, what causes this and how can we prevent it. Thanks for for your help.

  2. Hot water is what generally causes it with a reaction of the metals in the glass at high temperatures. If it is just from being in the crystal cabinet, this happens to all glass ware but you can just clean them in lukewarm water. Vinegar can actually etch crystal so it is OK for glass and not for crystal but even then, in small amounts only. Carb soda is better. Moisten a cloth with water, sprinkle the carb soda on and it will make a paste. Gently massage the glass. Hope that will work for you. If someone has put your crystal in the dishwasher, then it is unfixable and that is the time I tend to give up and make them into wind chimes! Thanks for reading,

  3. Months back one of my $80 crystal white wine glasses came out of the dishwasher with a thick cloudy haze. I had had this problem with my regular glassware on and off til we switched detergents. On glassware a run with bleach and vinegar did the trick, but the crystal stayed cloudy. I tried vinegar, baking soda, clr, you name it, but it did nothing. Even scrubbing with an abrasive did nothing. I put the glass away thinking it was ruined. Yesterday, I was using Twinkle silver paste on some silver and noticed some of the pieces turning brown. A little scrub and it was gone. It made me wonder about the detergent we had been using and whether it might have reacted with the silver and deposited the cloud on the crystal. I scrubbed the crystal with the Twinkle silver polish, gave it a good wash, and it looks like new. No cloudy haze, no scratches, just sparkle. Worth a try if nothing else has worked.

    • Thanks for passing on this great discovery! I tried it and yes, it works so today I am attacking all my old Boda tumblers. Note: Never put anything that has had vinegar on it into the dishwasher as it reacts with bleach and will strip silver.


  1. […] Drill holes in cut-glass or crystal glassware (stem glasses) and make tinkling bells from these.  Sherry glasses are great.  Cut the stem off, drill through the stump, use recycled guitar strings and crimp them to hold a clapper, loop it over and you have a crystal chime that reflects light. Our tutorial here as well – Don’t throw out that cloudy crystal […]