David asked: How do I clean the inside of a crystal decanter?
The narrow necks and wide bottoms of decanters offer beautiful presentation when serving drinks, but can be a real challenge to remove stains from wine and other beverages. There are a variety of methods that can be used to agitate the inside of the decanter. This agitation will “scrub” the stains away. Choose your own combination from the items suggested below. Then, follow the steps to clean and sanitize your decanter.
You Will Need:
- Cleaning solution (choose one)
- White vinegar and water
- Dish detergent and water
- Polident tablets and water
- Baking soda and water
- Lemon juice
- Ball bearings (small!)
- Sand (careful with this one as it could create scratches)
- Crushed ice
- Dish detergent
- Bottle brush
Steps to Clean the Decanter:
- Begin by rinsing out the decanter with clean water to remove any remaining liquid.
- Add the cleaning solution with a small amount of water if necessary.
- Add the scrubbing component to the decanter.
- Swirl the decanter to mix the solution around the base.
- Allow the solution to set for up to a couple of days. Swirl it periodically.
- As the solution sets, it will loosen the stains from the walls. Swirling and agitating the liquid will allow the scrubbers to brush up against the sides and remove the loosened stains.
- When the decanter is clean, remove and dispose of the contents. Clean with soapy water (especially if lead shot or ball bearings are used).
- Use a bottle brush to clean the long neck and scrub as much of the base as possible.
- Rinse with clean water.
- If all of the stains are removed, fill with clean water and add a small amount of bleach. Allow the mixture to set in the decanter for at least 15 minutes to sanitize.
- Remove the bleach water and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Do not bleach before the stains are removed. Bleach will remove the color from the stains, but it will not clean them away.
- For general cleanings, with no major staining, simply swish dish soap and water with a simple scrubber (ex: rice).
- If the neck of the decanter is short, it may be possible to bend the bottle brush to reach the edges of the bottom.
- These cleaning methods can also be used for cleaning vases and other narrow bottles.
- If you have a problem with condensation remaining after cleaning, let the decanter air dry for a couple hours so it is not still dripping wet, then drop in a silica packet. If the neck is narrow and the packet is so large it might not easily come out again, tape a string to it using sturdy tape.
- One site user (Thanks!) suggests putting the end of a kitchen towel into the decanter like a wick with the rest hanging out and letting it sit to soak up any remaining moisture.
- Another option for drying condensation in a narrow bottle neck is to tie a string around the corner of a thin cloth and gently stuff the cloth into the bottle using a long thing object, such as the handle of a cooking spoon. Do not let the end of the string fall into the bottle. Shake the decanter to move the cloth around so that it can absorb the water, then pull the string to get the cloth out of the bottle.