Wine decanters are must-have vessels for real wine lovers. They help you aerate your favorite beverage so it can rise to its full potential. But because of their size (and in some cases their fragility), it isn’t easy to clean a wine decanter. So how do you do it right?

When you clean a wine decanter, use soft microfiber cloths and warm but not boiling water. Don’t put it into the dishwasher and stay away from aggressive cleaning agents and cleaning alcohol. Also, clean your decanter soon after using it, so the stains don’t dry.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss these guidelines in more detail and talk about the best cleaning agents to use for decanters.

What Is a Wine Decanter?

A wine decanter is a carafe or a bottle for aerating wine. It’s just big enough to hold the content of a regular wine bottle and typically made from glass or crystal. Because of its shape, it gets the wine in touch with air, so it can breathe and release all of its delicious aromas. Decanters are also valuable tools to remove sediments from wine.

How to Clean a Wine Decanter

Cleaning wine decanters actually isn’t a big deal. The most important thing is to handle it with care to avoid damaging it. Follow these tips to clean a wine decanter:

  • Clean the decanter as soon as possible after using it. The longer stains can sit inside, the harder it will be to remove them. So even if you don’t want to clean it the same day, at least rinse it with warm water. In any case, don’t keep the wine in the decanter overnight.
  • Don’t put your wine decanter into the dishwasher. It will probably not get perfectly clean inside, and the detergents can leave unpleasant smells in it. Thus, better clean it by hand.
  • Wash your decanter with either warm or hot water. But never use boiling water as it can cause the glass to shatter.
  • Also, don’t use cleaning alcohol (methyl alcohol).
  • Stay away from sponges or brushes for plates or cutlery because they can leave scratches on the glass. Use special decanter cleaning tools instead.
  • Cotton and linen clothes can leave tiny fibers inside the decanter. And when you fill it next time, these fibers can make their way into the wine. Thus, better use a microfiber cloth.
  • Use your cleaning cloth only for your decanter and wine glasses but not for other dishes. By making this distinction, you can ensure that no food particles or odors get into your wine.
  • To dry the decanter after cleaning it, use a microfiber cloth. Then either place it upside down to air-dry it or blow it dry with a hair-drier.

The Right Cleaning Agent for Wine Decanters

When you clean a wine decanter, stay away from dishwasher detergent. Even those that are fine for manually cleaning plates and cutlery are often too aggressive and impart unpleasant odors on your wine glassware.

Better rely on simple cleaning agents that you can make from everyday household items.

How to Clean a Wine Decanter with Vinegar and Water

Probably the most convenient way to clean a decanter is by rinsing it with vinegar because vinegar is a staple in every household. Both white wine vinegar and distilled vinegar are fine. They are relatively neutral in color and odor so that they won’t impart unpleasant aromas on your decanter.

This is how to clean the decanter:

  1. Rinse it with warm water first.
  2. Add a splash of vinegar.
  3. Swirl the mix around carefully.
  4. If the decanter’s neck is dirty, cover its opening with your hand and shake the vessel upside down carefully.
  5. Finally, empty the decanter and rinse it again with warm water.

How to Clean a Wine Decanter with Salt and Ice

Another easy way to clean a wine decanter is using salt and ice. Here is how to do it:

  1. Fill a bit of salt into the decanter. Coarse salt is better than fine salt.
  2. Now, add crushed ice. Make sure to cover the vessel’s bottom completely.
  3. Swirl the mix around properly inside the decanter. The salt will scrub walls and erase the stains without leaving scratches.
  4. Let the ice melt so that you can pour away the mix easily.
  5. Rinse out the decanter with lukewarm water, and you’re done.

In case you face very severe stainings, feel free to combine the two methods we’ve just discussed. You have to replace the coarse salt with finer salt, though. Then, mix lukewarm water with a splash of vinegar and a good dash of salt and rinse the decanter with it.

How to Clean a Wine Decanter with Rice and Vinegar

Without coarse salt in the house, you can use rice as an alternative. It can similarly scrub your decanter’s walls without damaging them. However, it’s not as effective against tough stainings.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar.
  2. Add clean, uncooked rice to the mix, and swirl it around in the decanter.
  3. Pour away the rice and the vinegar-water mix and rinse the vessel with warm water.

The Best Tools for Cleaning Wine Decanters

Decanters are fragile. When mishandling them or treating them with the wrong tools, you can easily damage or even break them. To avoid ugly scratches, use the following tools to clean your decanter.

Bottle Cleaner Beads

To remove even the smallest particles from your wine decanter, consider using bottle cleaner beads. These are small balls made from stainless steel. You simply fill the decanter with water, add the beads and swirl them around. They will brush off the stains and connect to sediments and dirt particles, just like coarse salt or uncooked rice. Logically, it doesn’t make sense to add either salt or rice to the water when you use cleaning beads.

A great advantage of bottle cleaner beads is that they are reusable. So once you’ve cleaned your decanter, run the water through a mesh strainer to catch the beads. Clean and dry them, and put them away for later usage.

Be aware that you shouldn’t use bottle cleaner beads with vessels that have very small openings, such as duck decanters. They can get stuck in the openings, and it can be hard to remove them.

Microfiber Cloths

As mentioned before, cotton and linen cloths can leave fibers in your decanter. That’s something you definitely want to avoid. Thus, a microfiber cloth is a better choice. It won’t lose any fibers, and it’s very soft so that it won’t cause scratches on the glass.

Decanter Brushes

Sometimes the stains on the glass might be too tough to be removed by swirling a cleaning agent inside. In this case, you need a brush. Regular dish brushes often are too harsh for wine decanters, though. So, consider buying a bottle brush. These brushes have soft heads that won’t leave any scratches on your glassware.

Wine Decanter Stand

After cleaning a wine decanter, you should dry it to avoid water stains. Air drying is an option, but you have to place the vessel upside down to get all the water out of it. That is risky because the decanter could fall over and shatter.

With a wine decanter stand, you can eliminate this risk. The drying stand holds the decanter upside down in a safe and stable position. Some models even allow you to dry your decanter together with a couple of wine glasses.

Final Words

A decanter is both elegant and useful, and keeping it clean is essential for enjoying your precious wines. With the details from this article, you know everything you need to clean a wine decanter properly.