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How to Clean a Wine Decanter

I’ve been at this a long time and have had my share of frustrating moments with cleaning my decanters. Over time, I have found this six step approach to cleaning a decanter works very well:

  1. EMPTY the decanter of any excess wine
  2. RINSE with warm, clean water
  3. FILL with warm, clean water
  4. Let it steep or SOAK to loosen any residue, stains, or marks
  5. SWIRL the solution around slowly in a circular motion
  6. RINSE several times with warm water 

There are actually some products you could use along with the warm water to enhance the cleaning process. They are:

  • Crushed ice
  • Denture solution
  • Decanter cleaning balls or beads
  • Uncooked rice or egg shells
  • White wine vinegar and coarse salt 

Crushed ice: This method is effective because the crushed ice will easily agitate the inside of the decanter and scrub the stains away. Add crushed ice before you start step 5 (swirl). Once the ice has melted, simply pour it out. No mess, no fuss! The hardest part of this method is getting crushed ice if you don’t have that function in your refrigerator.

Denture tablets: This is one of the most popular ways to clean a decanter. It’s a quick and effective method that will produce excellent results. Now, you may not have dentures and therefore don't have any denture tablets at home, but you can get these very easily from your local grocery store, pharmacy, or Wal-Mart. All you need to do is add one tablet during step 4 (soak).

Decanter cleaning balls or cleaning beads: This is a fantastic way of cleaning your decanter and you can reuse these beads time and time again. You can get them at a specialty shop or online for between $8 and $15. I recommend adding the beads during step 5 (swirl).

Uncooked rice or egg shells: Almost everyone has these two lying around their kitchen, right?! For this method, pour around 2 tablespoons of rice or crushed eggshells into the decanter, add enough warm water to cover the stains, and swirl. Super simple. I will say, while this method is one of the most convenient, it’s not quite as effective as some of the others.

Salt and white wine vinegar: I like this method because I have everything on hand, the vinegar works extremely at well breaking down the stubborn stains, and the salt acts as a scrubbing agent. If you're using this method, don't worry about the swirling step. Instead, we're gonna shake! After the soaking step, empty the decanter and then pour in approximately 2 TBSP of salt and 4 TBSP of white wine vinegar. Place your hand over the top of the decanter and shake well. You should start to see the solution changing color as the stains start lifting. Depending on how tough the stains are, you may need to repeat this step.

So, those are my recommended methods for cleaning a decanter. As you get cleaning, here are some very important things to avoid:

  • Don’t use dishwasher detergent when cleaning your decanter! This could dull the glass and leave an aftertaste.
  • Don’t use a sponge with an abrasive type coating (only use a plain sponge or cloth). An abrasive sponge may scratch the glass or crystal of the better decanters.
  • Don’t let your decanter sit upside down on a cloth or wood surface. It will pick up a scent.

There you have it, the "dos and don'ts" of cleaning a decanter! To learn about how to dry your decanter after you've cleaned it, check out this video:



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