I have a gorgeous set of cross-hatch crystal stemware from my grandmother that is decades old, but shines like new with easy cleaning. Instead of relegating the crystal to a storage box or basement shelf, I use it regularly — even a glass of water tastes better when sipped from a thin, glittering glass! For storing, I keep it crystal glasses lined up on a regularly-accessed closet shelf standing upright on the base. You should never stack crystal glasses because they are likely to chip, nor should you stand them on the rim.
While crystal does hold up relatively well in the dishwasher, it’s not recommended. Over time, your glasses may become etched with hard water and debris from the washing cycle, or even break since crystal it is much more fragile than glass. If you do opt for machine washing, choose the shortest, gentlest cycle with a small amount of detergent and the lowest drying temperature. Or simply stop the drying cycle short and allow to air dry. When hand washing, which is how I prefer to clean my crystal, use a very small amount of mild detergent in warm water with a soft cloth or sponge. Crystal doesn’t stain, so red wine marks will wash away with water only, but I use a bit of detergent in order to disinfect the glass. Wipe crystal glasses dry with a soft cloth, like a flour sack towel. Make sure to handle very gently; never hold the stem and twist the base of the glass in either direction while wiping clean because it may snap.
If you pull your crystal out of the cabinet and you notice that the glasses are dusty or covered in water marks, put a tea kettle on the stove. Use the steam from the kettle spout to steam the outside of the glass which will loosen the dust and marks, and then over a bowl or sink, carefully pour boiling water into the glass to rinse the inside and discard. Wipe each glass dry as you go to prevent water marks. I like to steam clean my crystal stemware each time I have guests over to make sure it’s sparkling. You can steam clean any item of crystal — candlesticks, Champagne flutes, platters, etc. My other quick method for more minor smudges or a missed watermark is this excellent crystal polishing cloth which can be used dry. Instead of going through the full steaming process, a quick swipe on otherwise clean crystal is all it takes. Why not pull out your crystal for your next cocktail hour!