How to Clean a Decanter? Different Methods to Clean Different Decanters

How to Clean a Decanter? Different Methods to Clean Different Decanters

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Wine decanting has been and still is a useful and advantageous process to make the wine’s flavor profile magnified. Before, during, and after, the decanter must receive the utmost maintenance and care. After every use, decanters must be cleaned immediately so any unpleasant stains and smells will not linger. A delay would risk the decanter getting more difficult to clean. It’s not really rocket science, however, there are a few pointers that you need to know and follow to make the best out of your decanter. You are given enough options so you can clean your decanter in ways that are easy and available for you. 

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How do I clean a decanter?

Before cleaning a decanter, you have to examine it first, what material it is made of, the shape, and other factors that may affect the cleaning process. There are different methods for different types of decanters and what’s important is that the cleaning method is suitable for a specific type of decanter. This is a crucial pointer because some cleaning methods may ruin the decanter instead of prolonging its use. 

Perhaps the most common design of decanter is the one with a narrow neck and a wide body. A simpler design is the one that looks like a vase. These are the easiest types of decanters to clean because the shape is not complicated. For the purpose of generality, let us take either of these decanters as an example to discuss the different ways on how to clean a decanter. 

Hot Water 

The simplest resource that you can use to clean a wine decanter is hot water. All you need to do is to fill your decanter with hot water, swirl it and pour it out. Repeat this process until the smell and stains are gone. This method works best immediately after all the wine is served so there won’t be as much stain buildup and the smell of the wine will not linger as much. Hot water is known to dissolve stains but you have to make sure that it’s not too hot otherwise, the decanter may break. 


Vinegar is a well-known ingredient that not only adds a kick to your dishes but also does wonders for your cleaning endeavors, including your wine decanter. The acidity of the vinegar loosens and removes the stubborn wine stains and spots of the inner surface and is even preferred than soap by most sommeliers. White vinegar works best because it is pale in color and doesn’t leave unwanted scents. 

How to wash a decanter using white vinegar

  1. To make it more interesting, add some salt with the vinegar and together, they break down and scrub the stains effortlessly. 
  2. Don’t forget to add warm water as this can help the vinegar to not leave its smell in the decanter. 
  3. Swirl the decanter until all the inner surface has been touched by the solution. 
  4. Afterward, rinse with warm water. You can also skip the salt and use a decanter brush instead. 

Decanter Brush

A useful innovation that can thoroughly clean decanter is the decanter brush. Some people are not so comfortable just swirling water and another cleaner in their decanter. As a solution, a brush is used to reach the bottom and inner surface of the wine decanter. Decanter brushes are made with foam bristles and are long enough to reach the bottom of the vessel. They are also bendable to conform to the shape of the decanter. 


How to wash a decanter using a decanter brush

  1. To use it, you need to fill the decanter with warm water first. 
  2. You have the option to use another cleaning agent to help the process such as dishwashing soap, vinegar or even a cleaning denture tablet. 
  3. Insert the brush, ensure that it reaches the bottom, adjust to the shape then twist and scrub until the decanter is fully rid of the stains. 
  4. Take it out then rinse thoroughly. 

Salt and ice

A great combination of scrubbers for decanter is the duo of salt and crushed ice. Fill your decanter with these two and swirl the decanter but not too aggressively. This method is often described as the liquid version of a steel wool pad because it can scrub the inside of the decanter. This method is great when you clean the decanter immediately but if there are already very stubborn stains, this combo won’t work as effectively. 

Cleaning Beads

One of the most popular cleaning tools used for decanters is the small stainless steel beads. They are actually preferred by sommeliers since they are effective in removing stains and preventing sediments from the wine decanter and they are reusable. It also doesn’t require any other cleaning agent so hot water or distilled water will do. You simply swirl the beads with water in the decanter and you must do this gently and in uniform motion so the decanter will not break. Once done, pour out the water as well as the beads and rinse the decanter. Wash the beads and store them properly for the next use. 


A substitute for the cleaning beads is rice, another item that you may already have in your kitchen so it contributes to the convenience. The rough surface of the uncooked rice makes it a good scrubbing agent that can really remove the wine stains especially at the bottom. It can’t work alone so it needs to be combined with water and either dishwashing soap or vinegar. Get all of these into the decanter and do the swirling motion to get the stains out. Then, pour out the water and the rice and rinse your decanter with warm water.  

Baking Soda

Next to the vinegar, the baking soda is the other cooking ingredient that is also a prominent cleaning agent. When mixed with water, the baking soda will do its thing and dissolves any tough residue. It is an effective method but it is time-consuming as it takes a while for the baking soda to work with the water and dissolve the stains. Just like the other solutions, fill your decanter with warm water and add a few tablespoons with baking soda. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and start swirling. Drain the water solution and rinse with warm water. 

Distilled water, vinegar and ethanol

The swirling motion with whatever scrubbing agent you use is only applicable for a decanter with the broad body and narrow neck or the vase-shaped decanter. After cleaning, you can easily place them on a drying stand or place them upside down on a surface to let them dry. So, what can you do to those that have complex shapes, especially that more and more of them are on the rise? There is a simple and quite effective solution for this. 

How to wash a decanter using distilled water, vinegar, and ethanol

  1. Pour some distilled water into the decanter and add a splash of white vinegar
  2. Leave this solution inside for a few minutes. 
  3. Then, gently swirl the decanter around, making sure the entire surface is coated with the solution. 
  4. Then, drain it and rinse with distilled water. 
  5. Afterward, add about two tablespoons of ethanol and coat the inside by swirling it gently, then pour it out. Ethanol evaporates quicker than water and with it, the stains will also evaporate. 

Cleaning Powder

Alongside the cleaning beads, a cleaning powder is used to clean the decanter. This is often used for coffee pots but it also works well with glass. Just like the baking soda, it also helps in dissolving tough wine stains and making the decanter shiny. Combine it with warm water and the beads then start to swirl until it is fully cleaned. Remove the beads and water then rinse with warm water.  

Denture tablets

One of the most popular methods in cleaning wine decanters now is to use denture tablets. It is effective in removing stains and cleaning the inside thoroughly but it may not be convenient to some people and it is also time-consuming as the tablet would need some time steeping water.

How to use denture tablets to wash a decanter 

  1. To start, fill your decanter with warm water and drop one denture tablet. 
  2. Set this aside until the tablet is fully dissolved. 
  3. Swirl the decanter around to remove the stains or you can use the decanter brush. 
  4. Then, pour out the solution and rinse the decanter with warm water, making sure that no solution is left. 

Can you put a decanter in the dishwasher?

After a busy day, it may be really convenient to just put a decanter straight into a dishwasher and let it do the cleaning and drying, but this isn’t actually a good idea. Wine experts disapprove of the idea of cleaning decanter in the dishwasher because the fragility of such vessels cannot take the intensity of the dishwasher’s cleaning process. When you place it upside down in the dishwasher, it may fall out of balance because the body’s weight overpowers the neck’s and the inside wouldn’t get cleaned thoroughly. 

There are also huge chances that the decanter may crack or chip down and stains won’t be removed fully. You certainly cannot put decanters with complex shapes in the dishwasher because only the outside surface will be cleaned and we know the inner surface is the more important part. Bottom line, you must steer clear of the dishwasher when it comes to decanters because they deserve the proper and cautious care and you can provide this through hand-washing them.


How do you clean a crystal decanter?

Crystal decanters are more fragile than glass ones and are also more expensive so it must be taken care of delicately. Crystal decanters are better off if they are cleaned with just liquids because anything abrasive may risk the inner surface getting scratched and ultimately crack. But if you do use the beads, apply extra caution and be gentle. Clean it alone, no metal utensils or other dishes. 

So, to clean a crystal wine decanter, first, fill it with water, make sure it is warm and not hot so as to not break the crystal and add a few drops of either liquid soap or vinegar. Let it soak for about 15 minutes then start swirling it gently. The decanter brush can also be used to clean the inside but don’t apply too much pressure, let the solution loosen up the wine stains and the brush will just wipe them off. Pour out the solution and rinse with warm water until fully clean. 

How do you clean a narrow neck decanter?

As mentioned, decanters with narrow necks are the easiest to work with when cleaning them. In fact, all of the methods above are applicable to narrow neck decanters. Although, there are some limitations to the decanter brush because some decanters have narrower necks than others and so they can’t fit. 

And in the case of swan-shaped decanters, which are also a very famous choice, the beads or rice may be a problem because they can get stuck because of the confined space in the spout area. So, for this type of decanter, it’s better to stick with those that are soluble in water. 

How do you clean a new decanter?

Brand new decanters are wonderful to look at because they still have that shine going on. In order for this shine to stay longer, it is best to clean the new decanter immediately after all the wine is served. For the first few times that a decanter is used, there isn’t much wine stain buildup yet. So, you can use the hot water method effectively and if you want, you can accompany it with either of the vinegar, baking soda and soap. If the wine decanter shows signs of spots or stains, only then can you get rid of them with the beads, rice or decanter brush. 

How do you clean a Riedel decanter?

Perhaps the most famous glassware company is Riedel and among its finest products is their decanters. Most of their decanters are made from crystal glass. They boast their hand-crafted decanters as well as their machine-blown ones. Riedel offers numerous decanters of different sizes and designs. Being a huge glassware company, they only want what’s best for their products so for their decanters, they actually sell cleaning beads as well to clean the decanters. With this, it is natural to buy their beads when you buy their decanters. But, if you don’t have their beads, any of the solutions above can be applied as long as you consider the shape of the decanter that you have. Be sure to use warm water to rinse the decanter.  

How do you clean a whiskey decanter?

Whiskey decanters are different from wine decanters in many ways. First of all, they are smaller and thicker than wine decanters and they have stoppers. Second, it takes a longer time to finish the entire contents of a whiskey decanter because whiskey’s serving size is way less than wine. With this, whiskey decanters have a longer duration of having liquor inside them and so they will not be cleaned as regularly. Because whiskey has a strong scent, it tends to linger in the decanter especially that it stays inside for quite some time. 

When the decanter is finally empty, it’s time to clean it. It will also take a longer time to clean because stains have built up along with the smell. 

1. Fill your decanter with a mixture of warm water and either vinegar or baking soda to help loosen up the wine stains.

2. Let it soak for about 30 minutes then pour the warm water and vinegar or baking soda and scrub it using a brush or any abrasive such as rice.

3. Whiskey decanters are smaller so you can actually level up the swirling motion into shaking.

4. Fill the decanter with warm water and add the uncooked rice.

5. Cover the opening with your palm and shake it around more vigorously than you would with a wine decanter.

6. Then remove the contents and rinse. 

7. For the final soak, fill the decanter with water about three quarters and add about two tablespoons of OxiClean. This should help in removing any remaining stains but won’t leave any residue or scent.

8. In a separate glass or bowl, make the same solution and soak in the stopper as well. These should be soaked overnight for the best results.

9. The next day, pour out the solution and rinse the decanter and stopper with warm water repeatedly until fully cleaned and shiny. 

How do you get the cloudiness out of a crystal decanter?

Over time, like all other things, your decanters will slowly degrade. In the case of decanters, if not chipping down or cracking, they will turn cloudy or they are no longer shiny and clear. This happens because of too much contact with hard water for all the times you’re washing your decanter. Hard water contains calcium, lime and other minerals that result in the white scales forming on the inner surface of the decanter. While the haziness may be temporary sometimes when they are etched, they are more likely permanent and so it would be difficult to restore it to its original state. No matter, there are ways that can alleviate the cloudiness, it may not be as good as new but it’s sufficient to make the wine look good. 

Fill your decanter with water and a few tablespoons of vinegar, making sure to cover the inner surface and let this sit overnight for the calcium or lime scales to loosen up. If you don’t want to wait overnight, you can try replacing the vinegar with a denture tablet and let that dissolve. After soaking, drain the solution and make a solution of water, vinegar, and soap.

It should be 1 part dishwashing soap, 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water, mix these together in a soap dispenser. You can use this solution every time you clean your decanter. Fill the vessel with about 2 tablespoons of the solution. Take your decanter brush and scrub the inside. Rinse with warm water or distilled water then dry it immediately with a microfiber cloth or lint-free cloth.

You can prevent your decanters from getting cloudy quickly by washing it immediately after every use. Though it is inevitable the least you can do is give your decanter the proper care.  

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Wine is only as good as the vessel they are served in. Decanters make wine better, highlight the flavors, intensifies the aromas, and ultimately satisfy the guests. On the other hand, whiskey decanters contribute great aesthetics to the liquor. It’s only fitting that the decanters receive the proper care they deserve so they can be used longer and they can continue serving their purpose. 

After every cleaning, make sure to let dry your wine decanter properly, otherwise, all the cleaning will be for naught. If you don’t have a decanter yet or you want another one, check out these awesome whiskey decanters as well as wine decanters

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