How to Remove Etching From Drinking Glasses


After years of use, glassware can become etched by minerals in water, alcohol and dishwasher detergents, becoming cloudy. This is also a common problem in vases and decanters where standing water or liquids can etch the glass, creating a dingy appearance. With minimal effort and almost no expense, your glassware will again brighten your dining experience and add elegance to your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Sink or large container/bucket
  • Denture cleaning tablets
  • Bottle brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Chopstick
  • Uncooked rice
  • Baking soda
  • Goof Off cleaner
  • Metal polish (Simichrome, Wenol or Flix)
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Old washcloth or rag
  • Fill the item with very hot water and drop in a denture cleaning tablet. Gently stir while tablet dissolves and let stand for an hour and a half. (If you are cleaning several items at a time, fill a container large enough to accommodate them with hot water and add one denture tablet for every 8 ounces of water. Immerse all items in this solution.) Then scrub the etched side with a bottle brush, toothbrush or chopstick with a rag wrapped around the end and rinse thoroughly to remove all chemicals.

  • Wet your fingers and dip in a baking soda. Rub the soda into the etched areas of the glass until the etching is removed. You may add a small amount (dab) of toothpaste (not gel) if you wish. This works well on light etching.

  • Use a strong cleaner like Goof Off (not orange scented) or Goo Gone and rub glass using a clean rag. Do not dilute with water. Rub until etching is removed.

  • Use a metal polish like Simichrome, Wenol or Flix and a clean rag to polish the light etching off. Use cotton swabs like Q-tips or cotton wrapped chopsticks to reach into small areas you cannot reach with your hand.

  • Use acetone (nail polish remover) on a clean rag to rub etching off of glass.

  • Soak the glassware in white distilled vinegar for one hour to remove etching.

  • Hand wash your glass items after removing the etching using hot water and a non-detergent liquid dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry immediately to eliminate water spots.

Tips & Warnings

  • If scrubbing (step 1) does not remove all the etching, try pouring two to three tablespoons of raw rice into the solution in the glass or vase and swirl it around. After a few minutes, the friction created by the rice should remove any remaining etching.
  • If the etching is caused by dishwasher detergent, be sure to remove the etching on the exterior as well as interior surfaces.
  • Avoid washing glassware in the dishwasher to minimize the formation of etching caused by detergent. If you must, use much less detergent and be sure to use a rinsing agent like Jet Dry.
  • Display items with etching that cannot be removed filled with liquid to minimize the cloudy appearance. You can use water, colored water, or spirits in the case of a decanter. Adding clear or colored marbles to vases hides etching even more.
  • Do not attempt to scratch the etching off. This will only add scratches to the cloudiness.

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  • Photo Credit glass image by Pavel Vlasov from brosse à dent image by Psop Photo from Washing up II image by Sophia Winters from
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