Cleaning and Care of Shot Glasses

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Perhaps the cardinal rule for pre-pro shot glass collectors is that the glasses should be handled as little as possible, because repeated washing and wiping causes the labels to slowly disappear, along with your pride in the collection. Dusting is also a no-no and over-zealous housekeepers with dust rags can wreak havoc with a shot-glass collection. Having said that, however, glasses that have been hunted down in the wild or even on the web typically are cloudy from years of repeated handling by grubby fingers and they've usually often also suffered the insult of having a price tag attached. Many may also contain mysterious deposits. Thus, a collector's first impulse is to give them a good wash and restore them to as near perfect a condition as possible. Here are some guidelines on how to do that without inflicting further damage:

Removing dirt and grease (thanks to Bill Armstrong for contributing this section):
Always use the mildest soap possible. Use your fingers to lather the soap (I use just a dash a liquid dish soap; Ed), no sponges, wash cloths, or pads of any kind since these tend to trap minute sand and grit particles which will scratch the glass.

When washing your glass, place a very thick, folded towel in the bottom of your sink. Run cold water at a medium trickle before picking up your glass. Have your glass already LAYING on your towel in the sink. Hold the glass close to the bottom and not close to the spigot. When washing with your fingers, do not use any "cleaners" of any kind, since they usually contain grit or strong chemicals which will harm the glass or label, I give the glass a final rinse in a bath of distilled water.

Dry the glass with a THIN 100% cotton hand towel. Buy a set of towels just for this purpose only, do not use the towels for anything else (retailers such as The Home Depot sell packs of white, lint-free, cotton "Glass Towels" in their cleaning supplies section; Ed). Wash your new towels to break them in before using them to dry your glass. NEVER dry the label of your glass by rubbing them; I pat them dry then blow lightly by mouth. This works well and you'll see the label dry right before your eyes. I don't think it's a good idea to let the glass air dry on a rack since that leaves water spots and unseen deposits on glass and label, and worse, they could get knocked over and break (a sin). Store your GLASS towels where no one else will use them.

Finally, once cleaned, I do not handle them, since this leaves finger prints and skin oils on the glass. If you must handle them, use one of your dry GLASS towels; try not to put finger prints/skin oils on the glass, especially the gold bands and labels. Remember- the serious collector just wants to look at them, so - DO NOT TOUCH.

Removing stubborn deposits:
Some glasses retain a cloudy appearance after washing in soap and water. The affected area may be restricted the base of the glass, or may seem as if the glass was filled with milk and has yet to be washed. In both cases, the cloudiness is caused by prolonged contact between the glass and its contents.

If the liquid evaporated relatively quickly, then it most likely left behind mineral deposits, much the same way that water spots on a mirror leave behind a tell-tale mark. Mineral deposits can be cleaned with the aid of toothpaste and a lilttle patience. Simply apply toothpaste directly to a finger or thumb, and then work at the stain by rubbing it until it polishes out.

If contact between liquid and glass is greatly prolonged, the glass becomes "sick": the crystal structure of the glass is changed permanently. The only effective way to bring such glasses back to presentable status is to have them cleaned by a professional (cost is around $15).

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