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Tips for Cleaning Cloudy Glass

There are many things to consider when collecting glass, but in almost every case, condition is a major factor in the value of any piece of glassware. Most collectors are purists and by that, we mean the collector wants things in mint condition, as if they just came off the showroom floor: no chips, cracks, roughness or sickness. The only exception to this rule are the extremely rare pieces.

cleaning cloudy glass

Sick glass, or cloudy glass as it is often called, can sometimes be cleared. To understand what is happening to the glass, it is important to understand what type of matter glass actually is. It may seem like a solid substance to the touch but it is actually an amorphous solid, a liquid that was supercooled and is now somewhere between a solid and a liquid. Because of this, liquid can seep into the glass through micro fractures, giving the surface a cloudy appearance.

What is cloudy glass?

Cloudy glass is an industry term describing glass that has calcium deposits, which causes a light, foggy appearance in glassware. The water that held flowers in the vase or the repetitive washing of the tumbler is the culprit. Often, cloudiness is caused by consistent contact with hard water (i.e. water that contains calcium, lime, or other minerals) and this cloudiness can be difficult to get rid of.

Of course, vases, pitchers, and glassware are meant to be used, but a good rule of thumb is to thoroughly rinse the item after use and hand-dry with a microfiber cloth. Another good rule of thumb is to make sure liquid does not stay in the glass vessel for an extended period. One could consider using a silver vase for a long lasting floral arrangement.

If years of neglect has damaged the visual appearance of your fine glassware though, there may be a cure. Over the years, collectors have reported a number of household products that they have found cleaned from lightest to heaviest of hard water stains. Below are just a few of them.

Tips for cleaning cloudy glass:

  1. Leave the object in vinegar and water overnight to loosen calcium deposits, rinse with water and dry with a microfiber towel.
  2. Vaseline or petroleum jelly can sometimes remove light calcium build-up. Let it sit for 4-5 days before removing.
  3. Fill with lukewarm water and drop in a denture cleaner tablet.
  4. Pearl Drops Toothpaste has been recommended for light calcium stains. Dab a little on your index finger and lightly rub. Wash with water.
  5. Dow Tub and Tile cleaner. Spray on, let sit, then rinse.

Please keep in mind that these are for sturdier glassware and not for art glass pieces with decorative finishes or that are made of fine crystal. In addition, once glass has become cloudy and been cleaned, it can be difficult to keep the glass clear for very long. The microfracturing is still existent in the glass and thus the cloudiness will reappear over time. These tips can help you improve the immediate appearance of your cloudy glassware and careful handling can prolong the improved appearance.

Remember to never wash glassware with cold or hot water. Extreme temperature changes can cause glass to crack or shatter. In addition, fine glassware should not be placed in the dishwasher. Dishwashers can cause hard water stains to appear, some detergents can etch the surface and there is a possibility that vibration of the dishwasher can cause a piece to shatter.

The best way to clean your glass is to wash by hand, always with lukewarm water, mild dishwashing soap (liquid), and dry with a microfiber towel. Avoid cleaning surfaces with hydrochloric acid as an ingredient. Hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive and can permanently damage and etch your glass.

Whether an heirloom, collection or a new hobby, glassware can serve you well and gracefully adorn your cabinet shelves if cared for properly.

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