Since 1905

Caring for your Waterford Crystal

dunn's tips

We come across exciting items in our line of business. The forgotten love note hidden in an end table. Vintage bookmarks in antique books. Even old photographs long forgotten in the back of dressers. Finding these unique items takes me back to different times and makes me reflect on how much has changed – I get a little nostalgic. Sometimes, I run across something that is also interesting, educational, and just plain cool.

I was unpacking some Waterford crystal that had just come into the store from a client, and I found a small pamphlet in the box simply titled, “Caring for Water Crystal.” As I read it, I learned something new about stemware and caring for precious crystal, which was a surprise to me, not because I feel I know everything, but because I have been in the estate sale and consignment store business and have never run across cleaning instructions for Waterford before. This pamphlet explained what to do and WHY to do it this way, and to me, this is the most interesting.

Here is the pamphlet in its entirety:

Your Waterford hand-cut crystal is one of the most beautiful things you will ever own. But don’t lock it away in a glass case. Waterford crystal is meant to be used. To sparkle in candlelight and firelight. To frost ices cubes and soda in long summer drinking. To glow red with port, pale golden with sherry. To soothe your spirit with its cool satiny feel. You can enjoy its beauty every day if you follow these simple minimum-care hints.

Washing Waterford

Crystal, because of its lead content, is much heavier than ordinary domestic glassware. This weight is not necessarily a sign of strength and much greater care must be taken in the handling and washing of crystal. Thorough washing at regular intervals will keep crystal at its gleaming best. Wash carefully, one piece at a time in warm soapy water, never hot (use mild soap flakes). The interior of decanters and vases, which are often inaccessible, should be cleaned by pouring in coarse sand (very gently) or rice with warm soapy water and swirling the mixture around. Certain kinds of water leave a lime deposit. Vinegar, applied with a cloth is useful for removing this mark.

Note: Fit rubber protective nozzles to your sick taps. More fin crystal has broken through accidental knocks against taps that in any other way. And all rings, which can scratch glass, should be removed before washing.

After Washing

Waterford is at its sparkling best if rinsed in clean warm water, dried with one cloth and polished with another. Polishing cloths should be non-fluffy and lint-free to avoid bits of cloth clogging the cut glass facets.

Rems and Stem Need Special Care

Rims, which are fine, are naturally the weakest part of stemware. So don’t put your glasses upside down on the draining board or when storing them. The careless knocking of two rims together can cause cracks. Don’t hold a glass by the stem when washing or drying the bowl, as this causes undue pressure.

Should You Use Detergents?

Tests (by research associations) suggest that repeated washings in very hot water and detergents can destroy the surface of the finest crystal. Washing crystal in a dishwasher is not recommended. Take care of your Waterford and it will reward you with a lifetime of brilliance.

Can’t you envision someone rings off, elbow deep in soapy water (using soap flakes), cleaning their crystal glasses with gentle care? Visit the Dunn’s Attic showroom to see our Waterford Crystal and other vintage items.