Learn the restaurant-approved method for spot-free glassware

Illustration for article titled Learn the restaurant-approved method for spot-free glassware
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During high school and college summers, I waited tables at a French bistro near my hometown to earn money for college textbooks, cell phone bills, and terrible red highlights. (I cringe now, but this was the Christina Aguilera era.) The job opened my eyes to the realities of working in a restaurant, from kitchen drama to drunk bosses to demanding customers. But one of the most useful, small skills I learned there was how to perfectly wash glassware so that it’s streak- and spot-free.


I spent hours at the end of each night in a cramped, closet-size room off the hot kitchen polishing wine glasses until my wrists were sore and my fingers were raw from the hot-from-the-dishwasher glasses, so believe me when I say I’ve got this down. And now, readers, I share the method with you.

How to polish glassware

  1. Fill a quart-sized plastic container or a dishwashing tub with hot water. The hotter the better, but obviously don’t burn yourself.
  2. Pour in a generous splash of white vinegar. In a quart-sized container, I usually added a tablespoon or two.
  3. Dunk the top of the wine glass gently into the water, swishing it over all surfaces.
  4. Using the edge of a non-pilling kitchen towel (I like bar towels like this), hold the glass by its base so your fingerprints don’t get on the stem. Use the free portion of the towel to gently but thoroughly dry the bulb of the glass. The fewer swipes, the better.
  5. Now flip the glass over and dunk its bottom foot into the water, still holding the glass by its stem with the towel.
  6. Dry the bottom foot with the towel. (Here’s a decent video of the drying technique, for you visual learners.)

Et voilà, as my boss would have said.

Both the white vinegar and the hot water are key for achieving best results; having tried this with hot water (sans vinegar) and lukewarm water (with vinegar), neither works as well as hot water and vinegar.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll even share another fun tip I learned during those wild summers at the restaurant: Did you know you can clean Crocs in the dishwasher?

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.



Hot water is not neccisary when adding vinegar. You can simply put diluted vingar in a spray bottle and spritz the glass before polishing.

And those bar towel leave lint like crazy balls. Especially after a few washes. Towels are for cleaning.

For polishing: cloth napkins. The cheap white kind.

I spent many years behind the bar, and two as a bar back. I have polished tens of thousands of glasses of all shapes and sizes. Vinegar solution (or steam) makes the job easier but isn’t strictly needed.

One reeeaaaallly important bit is to take a light tough. Do. Not. Squeeze. The. Glass. Hold it or press on it with light pressure so the cloth can move over it freely.

If you squeeze or press tightly. The glass will break. And you will end up with 6 stitches in your thumb. And you will have to bartend in a god damn mitten for 3 weeks.