How should beer glasses be washed?

How Should Beer Glasses be Washed?

I own a lot of beer glasses. A LOT! I have about 30 Belgian beer glasses, several German beer glasses, and a huge assortment of others. I love pairing the right glass and the right beer together. It makes everything feel right. But how should beer glasses be washed?

Hand wash your beer glasses, avoid using a dishwasher. Use bicarbonate of soda rather than washing up liquid (which can leave a soapy residue), and find a brush that can reach the bottom of the glass. Leave to air dry rather than using a teatowel. Make sure that glass is room temperature before using.

In this article, I am going to share with you the correct way to wash your beer glasses between use. Not only will I show you the perfect method for glass cleaning, but I will also show you easier and less intensive ways to keep your glasses clean (in case you don’t have time).

What Are the Benefits of Properly Washing Your Beer Glasses?

Before we look into how should beer glasses be washed, we should talk about the reasons why you would want to do that in the first place.

Obviously, you don’t want to be drinking out of a filthy glass. That is unhygienic and unpleasant. But there is a difference between clean and beer glass clean. Chucking your beer glass in the dishwasher will get it clean, but it could also ruin the glass for future use.

If you live in an area of hard water (London and the South) or your dishwasher is quite old, the glass can become cloudy after being put through the dishwasher. Some dishwashers can also impart a salty taste onto the glass, which can ruin the taste of even the nicest beers.

But it isn’t just dishwashing that can affect your beer glass, even handwashing can affect your beer. Using regular washing up liquid can impart a film on the glass, which will lead to your beer going flat very quickly.

The benefits are:

  • Beer retains head for longer
  • Beer less likely to go flat
  • Better photos of your beer
  • Increase the lifespan of glass

How to tell if your Beer Glass has not been Washed Properly

How should beer glasses be washed?

You can see the marks on the glass

It’s very easy to tell when a beer glass has not been washed properly, otherwise, there wouldn’t be much point to this article! All you have to do is pour your beer into the glass. If poured correctly (tilted glass for 80% of the pour slowly raising the glass to upright by the end) there should be a nice healthy head on it.

In a beer glass that has been properly cleaned the head will stay intact for a long time. In a beer glass that has not been properly cleaned the head will dissipate very quickly, usually within a few seconds.

If you have ever spent time taking photos of your beer (guilty!) you will know the frustration of pouring the beer, grabbing your camera, and realising that the head has already vanished!

Beer can also go flat quicker in a badly cleaned glass. Another way to tell if a glass has not been washed properly is to look at the glass under direct light. If you can see lots of streaks and watermarks then the glass is not properly clean.

Tests for Badly Cleaned Beer Glasses

There are several tests for a badly cleaned beer glass. I’ll cover two of them, one for casual beer drinkers and one for beer glass obsessives. You can decide which category you fit into after reading!

The Casual Test

Pour a beer into your glass, and drink it slowly. After you have finished, look inside the glass. There should be some foam left (if there is no foam then your glass is definitely dirty).

If there are foam rings in your glass then it is properly cleaned (so continue cleaning at this level). If there is no ring pattern then your beer glass is dirty, and you will need to up your cleaning game.

  • The upside to this method: You get to drink a beer, and then analyse the results
  • The downside to this method: You will have to re-clean the glass whatever happens

The Beer Glass Obsessive Test

Wet your glass with water (not beer), then throw some salt into it so that it coats the sides. Once you have finished check to see how the glass is coated. If your beer glass has an even coating of salt then it is clean. If your beer glass has an uneven coating (clumping in some areas, zero salt in other areas) then the beer glass is not properly cleaned.

  • The upside to this method: Gives you a clear indication as to whether your glasses are properly cleaned. You can do this to the first glass during cleaning and use the information to influence the cleaning of the others.
  • The downside to this method: It takes time, is quite fiddly to do, and it will be hard to explain if anyone catches you doing it! Also, if you don’t thoroughly clean it afterwards, your beer could taste salty.

There are other methods, but they are very similar to the salt-test. The other test is to just look at it of course! If you can see streaks then your glass needs to be cleaned better.

How Should Beer Glasses be Washed?

For this you are going to need the following:

  • A sink and washing up bowl
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • A glass cleaning brush/sponge
  • A drying rack

We use bicarbonate of soda as it is more effective at cleaning beer glasses and doesn’t leave a residue in the same way that washing up liquid does. It’s also very cheap, unlike the traditional glass cleaning products that you can find on Amazon.

How should beer glasses be washed?

Glass cleaning sponge brush

Step One: Fill Washing Up Bowl with Water

Pretty self-explanatory, you can use hot or cold water. Make sure that your washing up bowl is clean before you start.

Step Two: Sprinkle Glass with Bicarb

Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda onto the beer glass and then scrub it gently with a glass cleaning brush. Make sure that the brush isn’t too abrasive as this can scratch the glass.

Step Three: Rinse the Glass

Place the glass in your washing up bowl filled with water and wash off the bicarbonate of soda, rinse the glass off with running water

Step Four: Dry

Use a drying rack and let the glasses dry off naturally. You don’t want to be using a teatowel here as fibres from the teatowel will get on the glass and you will have to start again.

Step Five: Aftercare

Once your glass is dry you can put it away for later use. Remember that over time the glass can get dusty, so it might be an idea to quickly rinse it with cold water before you use it again.

How to Clean Narrow Glasses

In the steps above, I recommend using a glass brush/sponge but for many glasses you could use a regular sponge. This is not the case with narrow glasses.

To clean narrow glasses you want to use a narrow glass sponge. This allows you to reach the bottom of the glass and then clean upwards. Using a brush will keep handling of the glass to a minimum and is the only way to properly clean the bottom.

Should I use White Vinegar to clean a beer glass?

Many websites recommend using white vinegar to clean glass, but in my opinion, this should not extend to beer glasses (or any glass that you would drink from). Firstly, it is unnecessary. Using the method above is more than enough to get your beer glasses clean. Secondly, there is a chance that the white vinegar will leave a taste on the glass.

Is There a Quicker Way?

I’ve talked about why using bicarbonate of soda is better than using washing up liquid. But it is of course possible to get okay results from using washing up liquid. If you are in a hurry then a small amount of washing up liquid is not going to ruin your glass. Just make sure to spend extra time rinsing it out afterwards.

How to Clean Wine Glasses?

Cleaning wine glasses can be done in the exact same way that you would clean a beer glass.

Grab a glass cleaning sponge, coat glass lightly in bicarbonate of soda, gently scrub the glass. Next, you want to rinse off the glass in water and leave to dry naturally on a rack. 

How Should I Clean my Wine Decanter?

I’ve added a quick guide to cleaning wine decanters into this article, because there are many beer glasses that present a similar problem. Because of their odd shape, it can be really difficult to clean them using a glass-cleaning brush/sponge.

The main thing that you want to do is rinse it immediately after use. Just pour some hot water into it and swill away any leftover wine. Or leftover beer if you are using a drinking boot (for example). This article recommends using vinegar and hot water.

Earlier I said that I didn’t recommend using vinegar, but in this case I do. Because it is so hard to clean using any other method.

Final Thoughts on How Should Beer Glasses Be Washed?

This is the sort of topic that people are quite happy to dismiss, but a flat beer with no head can ruin your beer drinking experience. Luckily, this method takes no time at all. Just get a good cleaning brush and some bicarbonate of soda. After that, the method takes no longer than regular cleaning and will produce far better results. How should beer glasses be washed? With care and attention.

If you have enjoyed this article, then why not check out my post on the history of beer? Where you can learn about how we got from Ancient Egyptian brewing to craft beer in just 3,000 years!

About the Author Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the owner of Beer N Biceps. He has a degree in Sports Science, 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry, and has written for hundreds of fitness websites. He is a lover of good quality beer and believes that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy lifestyle.

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