The cardinal rule when cleaning glass or crystal is to steer clear of very hot water, which will rupture the glass. I once witnessed a young footman break an exquisite crystal bowl by plunging it into scorching hot water. Glass should always be washed separately from other pieces of crockery, and never be placed in the washing machine.
It used to be possible to buy papiermache washing-up bowls, which were ideal for washing-up glasses, but I haven’t seen these for years. Wooden sinks decrease the chance of breakages, but anyone who has a plain enamel or stainless steel sink simply needs to place a tea cloth over the draining board.
Fill a washing-up bowl with reasonably hot water – you should be able to place your hand in it- mixed with washing up liquid. A second bowl should be filled with plain hot water.
Wash glasses one at a time. Plunge the glass into the soapy water and hold it below water level. With the other hand run your fingers inside the bowl of the glass, taking care to remove gently any lipstick from the rim, or sediment lodged at the bottom. Rinse in the second bowl, leaving some water in the glass to keep it warm until it is dried. Place upright on the draining board.
Only dry glass with a good quality tea towel: you can find proper glass cloths in any good department store. I always wash new cloths a few times before use to increase their absorbency.
To dry, hold each glass carefully by the base of the bowl. Insert the cloth-covered thumb of the other hand into the ‘ bowl and wipe gently without using pressure. As soon as the cloth becomes damp replace it with a dry, clean one as sodden cloths tend to break the glass. I reckon on drying three to four glasses per dry cloth.
Display glasses or keep them in cupboards. They must be kept upright to minimise chips. It is possible to have chips smoothed out but the cost of may exceed the glass’s value. To clean a badly stained decanter fill it to the top with clean warm water. Drop in a Steradent tablet and leave for a day. Another option is to drop small ball bearings into the bottom of the decanter and swill about. I used to use lead shot out of a cartridge years ago and the principle is the same.
When I have many decanters to dry, I get an oblong piece of wood with dowelling drilled into it and leave the decanters upside down on the dowelling until they have dried out. If you need to dry a single decanter, I advise shaking out most of the water after rinsing and then running hot water over the outside. The heat will evaporate the little water left inside. If, when laying a table, you notice that a glass looks smeared, fetch a small china jug filled with very hot water and tip the glass over the steam from the jug, and polish immediately with a clean glass cloth.