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How to Care for Glassware

How to Clean and Polish Glassware

Properly caring for glassware can save foodservice operators money and time. Operations will run smoothly when you know how to prevent breaks as well as how to handle, clean, and store glassware correctly.

Glassware Cleaning and Polishing

Clean glasses ensure the right taste and visual appeal for customers while dirty glasses are unappealing to the customer and can damage your reputation. Remember, when cleaning glasses you should always follow all health and safety guidelines.

Restaurant Equipment

How to Clean Dishwasher Safe Glasses

There are many types of dishwasher safe glasses. This makes cleaning easy and convenient in a high volume restaurant or bar. You can clean dishwasher safe glasses in a glass washer. Glass washers are efficient in that they can usually wash up to 2,000 glasses per hour, one cycle takes about 90 seconds to complete. 

Use the following steps as a guide for washing your glassware in a glass washer:

  1. Check the water hardness at the location of use. Then, regulate the water hardness range for the dishwasher.
  2. Pour out any leftover ice or liquid in the glass.
  3. Use a dishwasher rack so your glasses avoid contact with each other, pots, cutlery, and other dishes.
  4. Load glasses into the correct size glass rack, and position the glasses so that they are free draining. By positioning the glasses correctly, you can prevent unwanted marks or stains from forming on your glasses. 
  5. Place the glass rack into the glass washer and shut the door.
  6. Set the glass washer to your washing preferences and start the cycle.
  7. Open dishwasher briefly at the end of its cycle to let steam pass. Avoid opening fully until dishwasher has cooled.

Restaurant Equipment

How to Clean Hand Wash Only Glasses

When hand washing glasses make sure to use a soft surface material, like a microfiber cloth. When hand washing you will need a stainless steel sink with separate sections for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing.

Using a Glass Washing Machine:

  1. Clean all sinks before using the machine.
  2. Place the machine in a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  3. Empty out remaining contents of the glass into a drain.
  4. Place the dirty glass over the middle scrub brush and rotate the glass on the brushes until all signs of residue are gone. 
  5. Rinse and then sanitize the glass in separate sink compartments. 

Washing by Hand Only:

  1. Clean all sinks used for washing. 
  2. Empty contents of the glass.
  3. Clean the glass in hot water with a detergent solution.
  4. Rinse the glass in another sink to remove extra traces of food or detergent.
  5. Sanitize the glass in a separate sink by soaking it in hot water or a sanitizer.

How to Clean Crystal Glassware

Franmara 9411 31 oz. Crystal All Purpose Wine Glass

All crystal, unless otherwise noted, should be hand washed. This helps to cut down on the damage done by dishwashers and tough detergents. Follow these steps when washing crystal:

  1. Line a sink with a dish towel or soft cloth and fill warm water. The soft lining helps to prevent cracks or breaks.
  2. Use a mild detergent to wash out the glasses one at a time.
  3. Rinse with a vinegar-water solution and sanitize. The vinegar-water solution can help remove any existing water spots and prevent future spots.

Polishing Crystal

Many people choose crystal for the sparkle and clarity of the glass. So finding spots or a cloudy film on crystal can be frustrating, especially when it is supposed to be sparkling clean. Here are a few ways to shine crystal to perfection and cut down on the spots.

Restaurant Equipment

  • Restore shine by making a paste that includes ½ teaspoon of both salt and white vinegar. Carefully apply the paste and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse and polish with a fine polishing microfiber cloth or an electric glass polisher.
  • Does your crystal just need an extra sparkle? Noticing water spots and cloudy film? Sometimes when glassware is not dried correctly water can leave behind spots. This also happens when the water you’re using to wash is “hard”. Letting water sit in a crystal glass allows mineral deposits and hard water build up. This also happens when glassware is air dried. To combat this use a fine polishing microfiber cloth to wipe away any excess smudges.

How to Dry Glassware

Drying glassware is a vital part of glassware upkeep. It is best to dry glasses with a linen towel or a microfiber cloth immediately after cleaning. Be sure to pay attention to the thickness of the glass while you are cleaning to avoid applying too much pressure and to prevent damaging the glass. Keep your fingers from coming into contact with the inside of the glass while drying to prevent leaving prints on the glass.

Use the following steps when drying glassware:

  1. Make sure you hold the glass by the bowl. Holding the glass by the stem or base could result in breakage, so it is best to avoid grabbing the glass at either of these points. 
  2. Use the cloth to gently dry the glass. Do not use excessive pressure.
  3. Run the cloth along the outside of the glass as the final step to clean away and fingerprints. 

How to Avoid Glassware Breakage

There is nothing worse than the sound of glass shattering in a restaurant, especially during the lunch or dinner rush. Broken or chipped glasses can compromise the safety of both the worker and guest. Replacing damaged glasses can prove expensive over time. Employees also have to take the time to clean up the glass, which pulls them out of service. Keep the following tips in mind to avoid glassware breakage.

Noble Products 25-Compartment Gray Full-Size Glass Rack with 2 Blue Extenders - 19 3/8 inch x 19 3/8 inch x 7 1/4 inch

  • Avoid mechanical shock. Mechanical shock happens when a glass comes into contact with utensils or another glass. Any contact with another object can compromise the strength of the glass. To reduce the amount of mechanical shock, store glasses in the correct size glass racks.
  • Avoid thermal shock. This occurs when a glass experiences a quick and drastic change in temperature. Taking a dish right from the dishwasher and filling it with ice and water is one common way that thermal shock occurs. Always adjust glasses to different temperatures slowly by letting them change to room temperature first.

Glassware Handling Do's and Don'ts



Hold stemware by the stem of the glass; this is the strongest part.

Hold stemware by the bowl or foot. Any pressure placed on these locations can cause cracks or breaks.

Carry one glass in each hand and use dollies, racks, or serving trays if moving multiple glasses at once.

Carry glasses in "bouquets".

Only stack nesting glassware.

Stack glasses unless they nest.

Place silverware in designated silverware bins on bus carts rather than in glasses.

Place silverware inside of glasses. The metal scrapes the glass through mechanical shock. This creates weak spots that will eventually cause the glass to break.

Use properly sized glass racks for storage and cleaning purposes. This is the best way to protect the glass during washing, storage, as well as transport.

Store glasses on hard surfaces. This can cause chipping and cracking.

How to Transport and Store Glassware

Glasses move frequently in a restaurant, traveling from the dish area to tables and back again. There are a number of dollies, racks, and trays that can help to move glassware in a quick and safe manner. Using glassware racks and non-skid trays allows servers to transport multiple glasses at once. It also helps to reduce the chances of broken glasses. Properly storing glassware is also important. Knowing how to store glasses can keep them clean and service ready.

Carlisle RG25-114 Opticlean 25 Compartment Glass Rack with 1 Extender

Glass Racks

  • Glass racks offer a quick and efficient way to clean and move glassware. Racks are also designed to fit and wash many types of glasses such as champagne flutes, shot glasses, wine glasses, and pint glasses.
  • Open glass racks allow for efficient washing with side openings. Closed glass racks protect glasses from dust and bacteria especially during transportation and storage.
Noble Products Gray Dish Rack and Glass Rack Dolly with 31 inch Handle


  • Dollies allow for quick and easy transport of multiple glass racks at once.
  • They are also helpful with drying and storing glasses.
Noble Products 30 inch Translucent Vinyl Glass Rack Dust Cover

Dust Covers

  • It is also crucial to have a dust cover over any glassware that you are storing or moving to another location.
  • Covers help to keep out dust and ensure the best sanitary practices.

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