Cleaning Glass Artwork

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Cleaning glass artwork can be simple and straightforward. However, I have some tips to consider to help prevent possible damage while cleaning hand blown glass art.

Cleaning glass artwork feather duster and hand blown glass bowl shown

 

Glass is Glass

Not all glass is the same. There are many different types of glass. The types of glass can include window glass, optical glass, bottle glass, and even cookware glass… But my main focus for these tips will be for cleaning hand blown art glass. The video below shows these tips on cleaning glass artwork.

What not to do:

  • Dishwasher
  • Abrasive cleaners
  • Wearing jewelry

Dishwasher

Generally speaking, hand blown art glass can be sensitive to extreme heat and temperature changes. Dishwasher can get extremely hot quickly. I have known people to put very expensive glass sculptures in a dishwasher which then caused the glass to crack.

I recommend avoid using your dishwasher to clean handmade glass.

Abrasive cleaners and products

I recommend avoid using abrasive cleaners such as cleanser and steel wool cleaning pads.

People are surprised how easy it is to scratch glass. Even though glass is considered a durable material, the surface is much ‘softer’ than a person might assume. Some types of glass are ‘soft’ enough to even be scratched by your fingernail.

Rubbing glass against course dirt and debris is probably the most common cause for scratches. Just sliding a glass vase on a dirty surface or rubbing it with a dirty cloth can cause scratches.

Wearing jewelry??

Most people know diamonds can scratch glass… But so can rings, wedding bands, watches, and bracelets.

I have seen scratches caused by jewelry many times. In fact, enough times that jewelry is in my top ten causes for art glass damage.

I highly recommend removing jewelry before handling and cleaning glass.

Do the simplest thing first

Dust

Most of the time just a simple dusting with a feather duster is all that is needed.

*Tip – Using a soft, dry paint brush is a great way to dust hard to reach areas while cleaning glass artwork.

Fingerprints

Spraying glass cleaner onto a paper towel or soft clean cloth is the easiest and best way to clean off greasy fingerprints.

Cleaning sandblasted and frosted glass

Quite a bit of our work at Bernard Katz Glass has a sandblasted or etched surface. We apply a permanent protective coating to the sandblasted surface of our glass sculptures. This coating helps keep fingerprint oils from penetrating deep into the sandblasted or frosted surface.

This coating makes cleaning very easy with glass cleaner and paper towels.

Soap and water method

Not all sandblasted or frosted glass will have a protective coating. Fingerprint oil can be harder to remove with just glass cleaner.

The best method I have found is to use simple everyday dish detergent and lukewarm water.

*Tip – Glass covered with dish washing soap is very slippery. Placing a foam pad in the bottom of the sink can help protect the glass if it slips out of your hands. I recommend using a foam kneeling pad used for gardening. Most hardware stores and garden supply shops have these.

One last thing after washing glass

It is generally a good idea to wipe the glass dry after washing. Minerals found in average ‘tap’ water can create ‘water stains’.  This happens when water droplets dry on the glass. Water stains on glass can be difficult to remove.

What is not covered in this guide to cleaning glass?

There is a wide range in the types of glass artwork and techniques used in making glass art. For instance, hand painted surfaces can be easily damaged with improper cleaning… So when in doubt about how to clean your particular artwork, it is best to contact the artist or gallery for the best cleaning methods.

By Bernard Katz