by Staff Writer
What is lovelier than the sparkle of slender crystal champagne flutes and the fine, graceful bowls of crystal wine glasses? Fine crystal stemware is a joy to use and to behold. However, because of the delicate (and pricey) nature of crystal, it requires a bit more care than your regular glass dishes and cups. Here are some key steps to preserving and caring for your crystal stemware so that it will remain as beautiful as the day you bought it for generations to come.
Wash your crystal stemware with warm water, a soft sponge and mild dish soap. Avoid extreme water temperatures and soaps containing ammonia. Wash your stemware as soon as possible after using it: This is especially important after serving potentially staining liquids, such as red wine. Never put your crystal stemware in the dishwasher, where the glasses are likely to shatter.
Dry your stemware immediately after washing it. Use a linen or lint-free cloth to dry your stemware. The weakest part of your stemware is the place where the bowl joins the stem; for this reason, avoid holding the glass by the stem and twisting while drying. Instead, hold the bowl of the glass gently in your palm while drying the inside of the glass.
Store your crystal wine glasses, toasting flutes and other crystal barware in a safe, dust-free area, such as a china hutch, or inside special stemware storage containers. Do not store your crystal glasses upside-down in the cupboard: The lip of the glass is very delicate and will begin to crack under the weight of the glass.
Special care: If you have left your stemware out too long and dust, grime or stains have built up, try holding the pieces over a home steamer or a pot of boiling water until the build-up loosens, and then gently wash them with a soft sponge and very mild soap. Be careful not to burn your hands while holding your stemware over the hot steam. You may want to wear an oven mitt to protect your hand from potential burns.
Crystal frequently contains lead. Try not to let wine or other liquids sit for extended periods of time in crystal glasses and decanters. Liquids left sitting in crystal vessels will begin to leach lead out of the crystal, making the liquid unsafe to drink.