Three Whiskey Decanters against a Light Gray Background

This article was provided by Advanced Mixology.

A decanter serves a unique purpose beyond just holding liquids. It unlocks the flavors and aromas of wine and spirits, while adding a touch of elegance to the equation. There’s a reason why items are described as “crystal clear,” as crystal has brilliance and shine that are unmatched by other materials.

However, crystal decanters tend to accumulate residue over time, causing them to look hazy and dull. So, if you want to make your crystal decanter look sparkly again, follow these simple steps.

How to Remove the Cloudiness of Your Crystal Decanter

You can make your crystal decanter look as good as new by cleaning it with vinegar, a denture tablet, or a vinegar-and-baking-soda solution.

vinegar and baking soda cleaning solution
Vinegar and baking soda is a quick and powerful cleaning solution.
  1. To help loosen the stains, fill your decanter with warm water and a cleaning agent of your choice: either a few drops of vinegar, a denture tablet, or a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Pro Tip: Don’t use water that’s too hot or too cold. Boiling water can break the glass, while freezing water may not loosen the stains.
  2. Let this sit overnight, and place a soft cleaning towel under the liquor decanter to avoid scratches. Soak the stoppers as well.
  3. Discard the solution the next day.
  4. Fill the crystal decanter with a solution of warm water and a few drops of vinegar, and mild or unscented dishwashing soap. This ensures that it will not leave any residue and smell inside the vessel.
  5. If the stains are not tough and are already loosened up by the solution, you can just swirl the decanter and rinse it with warm water. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to scrub stubborn stains. Pro Tip: Don’t use anything abrasive like scouring pads because they can scratch the crystal—use a decanter brush instead.
  6. Gently scrub the inside of the crystal decanter until the remaining stains are scraped off. 
  7. Afterward, pour out the solution and rinse with warm water.

Cleaning the Outside of the Crystal Decanter

Don’t forget to clean the outside of your decanter, too.

Use a water-soap-vinegar solution

  1. Use the same water-soap-vinegar solution as above, and apply a few drops on the decanter’s outer surface.
  2. Wipe the decanter with a lint-free cloth ensuring you get the corners of the carvings since those are prone to dust.
  3. Afterward, rinse it with warm water. Do the same process for the stoppers of liquor decanters.

Use toothpaste

  1. If you want your crystal decanter to shine again, wipe the outside surface with your fingers using a bit of toothpaste and give it a light rub. 
  2. Rinse it thoroughly with water.

Use ammonia solution

  1. Another way to clean a cloudy crystal decanter is to put a few drops of ammonia into the water. 
  2. Use this solution alongside a soft lint-free towel to wipe the outer surface. 
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Tap water is fine, but you can also use distilled water for the final rinse to avoid calcium buildup from hard water. Pro Tip: When handling ammonia, wearing gloves is highly recommended.

Tips on Proper Crystal Decanter Maintenance

scotch bottle and decanter with a cigar and crystal ashtray
Maintain your decanter periodically to keep it looking its best.

Use the proper cleaning agents every time

Cloudy decanters are caused by calcium buildup and other minerals found in hard water, as well as any residue that is not properly discarded, including soap, wine, and liquors like whiskey or cognac. This also occurs when a decanter is not cleaned adequately for many years, causing the buildup to be more challenging to remove.

Several cleaning agents can help loosen the stains, but their effectiveness will depend on how tough the stains are. Crystal decanters don’t have a flat surface due to their carved designs, which means it’s easier for the residue to lodge itself within the ridges. Be sure to use only a small amount of your preferred cleaning agent, so it’s easier to rinse.

Never wash your crystal decanter in the dishwasher 

The harsh ingredients from dishwasher detergent can cause it to accumulate in the ridges. Also, the hot temperature during the drying process affects the quality of the crystal decanter. If you must use the dishwasher to dry your crystal decanters and glasses, set the machine to its air-dry mode.

Don’t let your crystal decanter fall into neglect


If you leave your decanter sitting in a cabinet without using it, it will eventually get cloudy. The best way to remedy this is through prevention. 

Regularly clean your crystal decanters—ideally after every use—and make sure to dry them to avoid residue buildup. If you don’t plan on using one for awhile, give it a good clean at least twice a year. In between washes, a thorough wipe with a soft cloth, preferably microfiber, is an excellent way to remove dust.

Why are Crystal Decanters so Expensive?

Crystal decanters are made with lead oxide instead of calcium oxide, which gives it that brilliant sparkle and heft. Crystals are also much softer than typical glass; that’s why they can be carved with intricate designs. Given these factors, crystal decanters are more expensive and delicate than regular glass decanters, but their sophistication doesn’t exempt them from degradation.

Whether you regularly use your crystal decanter or just like having one in your collection for special occasions, proper handling and maintenance are necessary to keep it in tip-top shape. Follow this step-by-step guide to keep your crystal decanter clean and gleaming for years to come.

4 Great Decanters for Your Home Bar

If you are in the market for a new crystal decanter, here are several that we like across varying price points:


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