This Is How to Clean a Wine Decanter the Right Way

This Is How to Clean a Wine Decanter the Right Way

Cleaning a wine decanter takes more skill than wine glasses because of their intricate shapes and narrow necks.

When questioning how to clean a wine decanter, you might consider soap, vinegar or even your dishwasher. However, the best technique depends on the form of your decanter.

Your glass wine decanter may have a wide bottom, swirls or an upright duck style. All of these shapes have different cleaning requirements.

Below are some tips to keep your wine decanter clean before and after use.

Prepping Your Wine Decanter for Use

If you have not used your wine decanter in a while, you’ll want to give it a rinse before using it. You can take an ounce of wine and run it through the decanter, letting it pick up any particles on its path before pouring it out.

Water may have chlorine, fluorine and other minerals that could affect the quality of your wine. The glass’s taste will not impact the wine’s flavor by rinsing it with the desired alcohol.

how to clean a wine decanter

Right After Use

As your dinner guests leave, make sure to dump any excess wine back into the bottle and rinse it thoroughly with hot water. You can wait until the following day to clean the wine decanter, but try not to let it sit any longer.

Choose Your Cleaning Agent

While many wine enthusiasts clean their decanters solely with hot water, that could leave wine stains that may build up over time.

Some stores sell crystal glass and decanter cleaners, but there are cheaper and more natural options available.

Try to avoid the dishwasher at all costs. This appliance could seriously damage your delicate decanter, so I recommend opting for one of the below methods.

Water and Vinegar

Begin by rinsing the wine decanter with warm water. Then, pour in near-boiling water and let it soak for 10 minutes.

You can take a bottle brush or bendy spatula wrapped in a cloth to scrub the curved sides gently. Once you have scrubbed off any visible stains, pour in a mixture of white distilled vinegar, ice and water.

Slosh this mixture gently around the decanter for a few minutes. Once satisfied, pour out the contents, thoroughly rinse and scrub it again.

White distilled vinegar is an eco-friendly and frugal cleaning agent. The acidity can kill bacteria and dissolve dirt, grime, grease and mineral deposits. Regular dish soap can leave behind residues that affect the flavor of your wine.

Since wine has a similar sourness, it may not significantly impact the taste; however, try to rinse out the vinegar entirely to avoid leaving behind the pungent flavor.

how to clean a wine decanter

Decanter Cleaning Beads

Decanting beads are small metal balls that go into the glass wine decanter with near-boiling water. You swirl them around for about two minutes so that they pick up sediments and residues. These tiny beads act as sponges.

These beads are durable, reusable and rust-free. Their small size means they can reach the tricky corners of intricately-shaped decanters. 

You can use a mixture of hot water and dish soap, but if you’re looking to prevent residue and stains, you may want to replace the soap with a cleaning powder.

Make sure to rinse the beads in hot water and dry them before storage.

Salt and Ice

Some natural cleaning products in almost every home are salt and ice. If you have a sturdy decanter, you can drop in some crushed ice and a few pinches of salt. Shake it around with moderate intensity.

These two items scour the glass like a steel wool pad. Once you have finished, rinse the decanter with room temperature water and let it dry.

You cannot use this vigorous method to combat red wine buildup. It needs to happen immediately after use.

Try out one of the other methods if you have a more delicate wine decanter. Crushed ice could scrape the inside of a fragile glass decanter, and the salt could leave behind some flavor.

Rice and Vinegar

A gentler method than steel balls and ice is using rice and vinegar to clean your decanter. To do this, mix uncooked, clean rice with equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.

Flow the solution through the decanter’s narrow portions, letting the rice scrub the sides clean. This technique removes light stains, but it leaves behind some grit and rice grains. The liquid may stick the rice to the decanter, meaning you may need to clean it again. (If you’re making eggs for breakfast, you can use the crushed shells instead of rice.)

If your decanter is heavily stained, you’ll want to use a different cleaning agent. It cannot remove tough, substantial stains from the glass nearly as well as the cleaning beads or even salt and ice. 

Soap and Water

Soap and water can do the trick, though I do not recommend them highly. Make sure to use only a dollop of the soap and dilute it with plenty of hot water. Use this mixture to rinse the decanter thoroughly.

Some of the best soaps include Palmolive Ultra Strength and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap.

Denture Cleaner

The same tabs that clean your dentures can clean your decanters. All you need to do is fill the decanter with near-boiling water and drop in an anti-bacterial denture cleanser.

The denture cleaner should produce bubbles that scrub away any wine stains and leave a sparkling look. If they can clean red wine off teeth, then they can remove it from the glass.

This product will not leave any taste behind, so it works well for unusual decanter shapes where even the beads will not fit.

You can repeat this same process with a coffee brewer cleaning tab.

how to clean a wine decanter

Post-Cleaning: Drying and Storage

Once your decanter is spotless, dry the exterior with a lint-free towel like a microfiber cleaning cloth. If you don’t have one handy, you can use a fresh paper towel to do the job. You will want to start drying while the glass wine decanter is still warm.

A decanter drying stand will help you dry the interior without leaving behind water spots. Be warned that not all shapes fit on these racks. If you don’t have one, you can prop the decanter upside down. Make sure to hold it against something so that it doesn’t roll.

If your decanter doesn’t stay directly upside down, you may need to reorient it yourself for a few days until all the water has dried. Make sure the decanter has zero moisture before storing.

Try to store the decanter in a room with circulation. Also, you may benefit from a decanter lid or stopper that prevents dust from entering.

Beautiful Decanters Require Attentive Care

Now that you know how to clean a wine decanter, you may feel overwhelmed. Should I use soap or not? Will vinegar make it too sour? Is crushed ice going to break the glass?

The best way depends on your decanter’s shape, build, age and condition. More stains indicate you will need more rigorous methods, and older, thinner decanters require more delicate care.

You may need to undergo some trial and error to determine the best way to clean your glass wine decanter. However, the above techniques should preserve it for ages to come.

If you’re looking for a new wine decanter, these are the best wine decanters on the market right now.