The Care and Cleaning of Glass

After you have purchased your cut glass and have had it home for a while you notice that it has lost it sparkle could be it needs cleaning? I would like to share with you a few cleaning ideas that I use on my cut glass and a few tips others have shared with me over the years for the preservation, cleaning and security of your cut glass.

What gets you cut glass dirty? Grease from your hands, dust and Air Pollution are the most common. I find the best way to clean my glass is to use a plastic or fiberglass wash tub a good size is 16" x 24" x 6" deep. Nick Boonstra told me about a plastic photo developers tray that he has found the size is 16" x 20" it has a lip for splashing and easy lifting, it also has a drain to empty, sounds great. Never clean glass in the kitchen sink due to the hardness of the sink itself and the danger of hitting the metal faucet. I use a nylon scrub brush with a plastic handle on the top with the bristles at least 1" long so it will get in all the cuts. Do only one piece at a time and if you have cleaning help do not let them clean your cut glass, no one will take as much care as you do, after all its not just beautiful to look at but its also an investment. Never put cut glass in the dish washer, particularly stemware besides the heat there is a lot of movement due to sprayers going on and chips will occur. After you get all your equipment together fill the tub about half-full with baby warm water with a little glass cleaner added or if the glass is really greasy a little dish soap. Make sure you scrub all the cuts in the pattern and the serrated top edge. Rinse with clear water in a separate plastic tub and dry with an old worn out towel that leaves no lint. All jewelry must be removed before you start cleaning due to the chance of scratching your glass or damaging your jewelry and wearing a pair of cotton gloves while drying your glass will prevent those dulling finger prints.

Cleaning decanters presents a special problem, first use the cleaning method as described above be sure to rinse the inside of the decanter until there are no suds apparent. Place in a plastic dish rack upside down to drain. Decanter must be completely dry before replacing the stopper or it will fog up.

I find if you cut up on old cotton sheet in narrow strips about 36"’ long and use 1/4" wood doweling to insert it, you can then swirl this and remove most of the moisture. After fully draining rinsing the inside out with acetone which you can buy at the Hardware Store will greatly accelerate the drying process, use about 1/4 cup in the decanter and holding your finger over the opening and shake then discard the Acetone. You must take care with the Acetone, as it is flammable and could damage your furniture also wear eye protection. Always clean the inside of the decanters after use as Alcohol or water left in can damage the surface of the glass.

Vases also are hard to clean and dry inside, never use a bottle brush or anything with metal parts as this can scratch the interior, that is what put those scratches in the very tip of the Trumpet Vases you see now and again. A good policy shared with me recently by a dealer is to use distilled water in your vase when in use and change daily this saves those deposits of minerals and stains from the flowers themselves from spoiling your vases beauty.

Below are a few tips for the safety of your fine Cut Glass.

1. Never place cut glass in direct sunlight as the temperature difference can cause it to crack. Also if you receive a package of cut glass in shipping or it has been sitting in a warm or cold place do not unpack it immediately, let it sit inside and come up to temperature slowly over a period of 8 hours or more.

2. Check your cabinet shelves for sagging, you may need to place the heaviest glass pieces nearer the sides where the shelf supports are, To check, kneel down and look along the front edge of the shelf from the side of the cabinet, only minor bowing should be allowed. Generally a minimum thickness of 1/4" for shelving is acceptable.

3. If glass is to sit on a hard surface you can put small dots of felt or plastic which are sold in good hardware stores. Apply these so the piece is stable with no rocking, a minimum of 3 or 4 should be used. Apply these where the glass surface makes contact with the table surface. These may need to be replaced after each cleaning but are well worth using, as they will protect the glass as well as your fine furniture.

4. If you live in an area where there are earthquakes you can secure your cut glass with a wax like product. There are 2 kinds, a green one used by Florist; and a white one sold at Antique shows and some shops. I prefer the white one as it seems to be easier to remove and does not seem to harm the surface of your furniture.

5. Be careful with the size bulbs you use in your Cut glass Lamps. we use a maximum of 25 watts for each bulb, we also test the color of the bulb and choose the one that puts out a the whitest light. Some of them put out a yellow or amber color. I prefer the bulbs made for ovens as they are small in size and this keeps the bulb further away from the shade. Also after cleaning your prisms check the wires holding the prisms and make sure they have not pulled loose, during this process a towel should be wrapped over the base to prevent damage from falling prisms.

I hope that you find this information helpful.