Taking a Shine to Crystal Glass

Relegated to the back of the cupboard or discarded, crystal vases, bowls and glasses have until more recent times been considered ‘old fashioned’.  Crystal glass is now being rediscovered.  With it’s light refracting qualities, interesting designs and a large variety of shapes and sizes, it’s both functional and decorative.

Crystal pieces can make memorable gifts and versatile display items.
If you are op shopping, you may notice that they are being priced higher than previously, which reflects their regained popularity.

Here are a few simple ways to check an item to see if it’s crystal or glass, and how to clean crystal to keep it sparkling.

Simple ways to tell crystal from glass

Weight & Clarity
Lift your item and take a good look at it.  A crystal piece will feel heavier than the same sized glass item.  You should be able to see though it clearly (if its clean), as it has a higher lead content which gives a clearer view through it.  Regular glass is cloudier than crystal.

Light refraction
Fine crystal will usually sparkle as the crystal acts like a prim, which can cause you to see a rainbow effect when looking through it.

When lightly pinged with your finger, crystal will make a ringing sound.  Glass will make a thud.
At home, you can check wineglasses by wetting your fingertip and gently sliding it around the rim and it should make a musical tone.

Ideas for using crystal

Sweet bowls
Table lights
Jewellery holder

How to wash crystal glass and keep it sparkling

Hand-wash crystal in warm water using a mild dish soap.  Wash each item separately to avoid potential chipping and breakage.
Do not use a dishwasher, as high heat and harsh detergents can damage crystal.
Avoid using abrasive scrubbing brushes or abrasive products.  Use a nonabrasive sponge instead.
Rinse with a solution of 3 parts warm water and 1-part white vinegar.
Rinse again in clean warm water and dry with a soft, clean cloth.

For severe film build-up, wash the glass with vinegar or use a commercial lime remover.
Soak the glass in a solution of approximately 1 cup of white vinegar to about 3.8 litres of warm water, then using a non-abrasive cloth or sponge rub gently.  You can scale this quantity down for single items or small quantities.
Rinse in clean warm water and dry with a soft, clean cloth.

For vases with build-up in the stem or neck, I have found that the vinegar solution and gentle rubbing with a very soft bottle cleaner does the trick.
Refer to the picture of the type I use.  


  • Always use lukewarm water, not hot.
  • Never rinse with cold water, because extreme temperatures can cause cracks or breakage.
  • Don’t fill with liquid until the pieces have returned to room temperature after cleaning.
  • Air drying encourages calcium, mineral deposits and hard water build-up that can cause the glass to become cloudy over time.
  • Always dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Below are a couple of examples of how I use some of my crystal collection.
Enjoy your crystal.

Crystal glass items show variety of uses and styles

Crystal glass items from my collection, showing various uses.

A round crystal glass vase makes a good light feature

A round crystal glass vase with seed lights and artificial greenery makes a great light feature.

Bottle cleaner for cleaning glass vase

Choose a bottle cleaner like this one, with its soft head is ideal for cleaning the stems and necks of crystal vases.