The Mysterious Case of the Greasy Glass

That title kinda sounds like a Nancy Drew Mystery story gone wrong, doesn’t it? Ewww! Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that book! lol

Before we get into today’s post, I am happy to announce that CabinetGate is officially a wrap. I had one door that arrived damaged and a replacement door is being shipped, but other than that and some possible shelf tweaking, the garage cabinet storage project is all finished. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday! I’m really happy with how it turned out. Tired, but very happy!

Update: See the garage cabinet storage project completed in this post: Tablescaping Storage for Dishware, Flatware, Napkin Rings, Napkins and Glassware.

The Mysterious Case of the Greasy Glass

For quite a while now I’ve had a weird occurrence taking place inside my cabinets. I put shiny, clean glasses inside and months later when I open the cabinets to retrieve the glasses, I discover gremlins have sneaked in and dirtied them all up.

I’m not sure exactly how to explain what happens, but take a look at this photo below. Notice how the glasses look super cloudy. When I touch one, it feels disgusting, like it’s coated with some slimy, oily substance. And whatever it is, it kinda sticks to the hands. Yuck!

Glassware looks and feels greasy, cloudy after storage in cabinets

 

At first I thought it was just my dollar store glasses doing this, but no, I see it on more expensive glassware, too. Last night I Googled my little fingers off trying to find an answer. There are several threads online where other folks are having the same issue and wondering what the heck is going on with their glasses.

THIS article states that it’s a glass disease called “crizzling” and is caused by the alkali leaching out of the glass which is why the glass feels slippery like soap. Not sure I entirely agree with that assessment since the article references this as being something that only happens to cheaper glass, and that’s just not always the case. A lot of folks at the “Glass Message Board” HERE have noticed it on more expensive glassware, as well.

Greasy, Oily feeling glasses after being stored away

 

Probably the best article I’ve found on this topic is THIS one by The Royal Society of Chemistry. They state that the issue is caused by the unstable elemental composition of the glass AND storing the glass inside wooden cabinets. They also see “seasonal dampness” as another contributing factor in this problem.

The glasses I see it on the most are the ones stored in the wood cabinets in my laundry room. Those cabinets hang on the wall and are just like the ones I have in my kitchen, except I’ve painted the ones in my kitchen, both inside and out. I haven’t ever painted the ones in my laundry room

I”m not sure what type wood they are made from, it may be maple. They are original to the house, so they date back to 1982-83. That seems to be a common factor, by the way. This issue seems to happen more to glassware that is stored in wood cabinets or wood curios/display cabinets.

This issue has drawn quite a bit of attention because if it can actually cause permanent damage to glassware and has led to the deterioration of some rare pieces of historical glass at the National Museums of Scotland. Crazy, huh?

Whenever I set a table for Tablescape Thursday, or just to enjoy with friends, I always wash the glasses before placing them on the table if they are glasses I haven’t used in a while. I do that for dishware, too. The glassware I use every day doesn’t ever have this issue since it’s washed regularly.

Have you seen this issue with any of your glassware? If so, was it stored in a wood cabinet? Do you only see it on less expensive glassware, or have you also seen it on high-end glass pieces?

In one of the articles I read last night, one collector had seen it on her expensive glass paperweights, but not all of them. Maybe it has to do with the exact composition of the glass.

I’ve moved the majority of my glassware to one of the new cabinets in the garage, will share that with you tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how it fares in its new location. As soon as this post goes up, I’m going to get to work de-greasing all my glassware. I can’t have you seeing cloudy, dirty looking glasses inside my new cabinets, tomorrow! πŸ˜‰

Why do glasses feel slimy, oily after being stored in cabinets

 

New Napkins for Halloween

Oh, before I go, I celebrated adding the cabinets to the garage with a set of new napkins. Won’t these be hilarious for Halloween?! I love all the images/silhouettes! My favorite has to be the witch with her tall pointy hat–and that nose and chin! lol

Halloween Napkins

 

If you need a fun set of napkins for your Halloween table this year, these are available here: Halloween Napkins. Unfortunately, it appears the price has gone up since I purchased them on August 3rd. I only paid $13.58, including tax, and that was less than a week ago.

Funny Halloween Napkins, Great for all Ages

 

See you tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday!

 

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Comments

  1. OMG – I have this same issue with the drink ware I store in the glass front cabinets in my butler’s pantry and it happens to both expensive and inexpensive glasses. I always wondered what caused it because it is frustrating (and can be embarrassing). My house is only 5 years old however, I am not sure what wood the cabinets are made out of. If you find a fix, please do share!!

  2. Martha Handschumacher says

    I have had the odd filmy stuff on my nice glassware too. My blue Fostoria had it when I stored it in my grandmother’s old wooden china cabinet. I moved it to my kitchen cabinets and have not noticed it lately.

    • Karen R Hensley says

      Same here. I store my blue Cambridge Caprice glassware in an antique cupboard and just the other day took some out to use them. They
      actually had a greasy feeling. I wondered if it had to do with the high humidity.

  3. I’ve always had the problem of my less expensive glasses getting cloudy and just as you described. They have always been stored in various all wood cabinetry, yet the problem exists. I personally, don’t think it has anything to do with where they are stored, as I have had some packed in clean boxes and packing paper and after a time when they are unwrapped the problem is there. Ugh!!!!! Let me know if you find a solution. Your explanation sounds entirely plausible.

  4. Thea Reynolds says

    I have had this happen to all my glassware, Waterford on down to basic HomeGoods, in my china cabinet in the dining room, the butler pantry, the kitchen. All cabinets are wood. Some with glass doors some not. I always thought it was just contaminates in the air from cooking and maybe the AC. The china cabinet always got a redo at Christmas time and the rest got washed when used. I figured it was just life happening.

    • Jan in CA says

      I have always thought as you do, Thea. Just like long-unused clothes in a closet can begin to show a fine layer of dust across the shoulders, it seems that crystal, glassware and dishware that sit in cupboards of any kind (unless they are really well-sealed!) for long periods of time just gradually build up a film from our everyday living. I don’t recall having this problem 45 years ago when we were newly married, but that could be because I just had everyday items that were used regularly. πŸ™‚ It could also be that we have so many more pollutants in the air now than we did back then, which just filter into our homes. And so, like you, I wash all displayed glassware at Christmas, and any other of the stored items as we use them.

  5. Susan, you always have the most interesting posts and I mean that in a good way. I’ve had that slimy feel on some of our glassware too but never would have thought to figure out what caused it. Of course, I always wash those glasses before use anyway. Since it’s just the two of us, my husband usually drinks out of a disposable cup (not sure why since we have plenty of nice glassware) and I’m just as guilty, I drink from an insulated cup all day, which keeps my ice and drink fresh at all times (sounds like a commercial – LOL).

    On a side note, I’m so happy you are on the home stretch on your cabinet-gate as you call it. I have to hand it to you, I doubt I would have had the ability or patience to get them all done like you have. But what a wonderful place you now have to store all your dishes, etc.

    Have a wonderful Wednesday!

  6. Katherine G says

    I have noticed this also, and asked a carpenter about it, and he said it had more to do with the chemicals used to finish the inside of the cabinets – new cabinets were the worst, and that it may lessen as the cabinets age… I have not found that – my kitchen cabinets are 20+ years old and still have that issue. However, I have no problem at all when any glassware is stored in antique “solid wood” cabinets. So I think we can point the finger at the cabinets more than the glassware. Following your comment, it may be a good idea to repaint the inside of the cabinets to seal whatever chemical is pervading the inside of the cabinet, and reacting with the glass, if there is one that works. Looking forward to seeing this mystery solved,
    Katherine

    • Ashley Evans says

      I agree! I have 70-yr old wood cabinets painted with oil finish. We recently noticed one of the lower cabinets that isn’t opened much (and stores baking pans) has collected quite a bit of oily condensation, enough to dribble out onto the floor! At first i thought i had a dishwasher mechanical issue, but now I think it’s a straight up condensation issue. Glad I found this post!!!

  7. I also have this issue ! I always just assumed that the everyday ‘grease’ from cooking, etc. was somehow getting into my kitchen cabinets. Glad to hear I’m not such a messy cook as I thought ! Very interesting and it kinda all makes sense when you think about it – I usually just run a load of glasses through a short wash in my dishwasher. Thanks for all the great info – your blogs is definitely one of the best and my absolute fave !

  8. OMG, I thought it was just me! I have been blaming it on China, since most of my glasssware seems to be made there. But my kitchen cabinets are wood, cheap pine.

    How utterly bizarre. But thank you!

    And my apologies to China!

    • I should also add that my cabinets are less than 10 years old, and no glass doors. And I am in the humid South.

      I must also add, though, that I have had this happen on stuff left out on the counter, albeit under wood cabinets.

  9. Yes! Cloudiness does not appear to be discriminatory in my cabinets. I’m not sure what constitutes higher-priced glassware, but my Michael Graves glasses are just as cloudy as my Libbey glasses. It’s terrible. They are stored in wood cabinets with glass doors.

  10. Alycia Nichols says

    Same issue here for years on both expensive AND inexpensive glasses. Weird, though, that it seems to only happen to drinkware…not plates or pitchers or anything else! I’ve often wondered what the heck was going on. I have learned to put up with it, just like you, washing the glasses before using them each time to get rid of the greasy, filmy mess. Sigh! πŸ™ Glad to know it’s not just me, but irritated to know it’s a widespread dilemma that seemingly has no realy cure.

  11. Joyce Howe says

    I have also had this happen with all of my glassware. I have Waterford down to cheaper kinds, but all have done this. I make an annual event out of washing it all and completely cleaning out the cabinets. I have wood kitchen cabinets, credenza and bar cabinets. That being said, I also notice the same with a glass lamp which sits out all the time, though on a wood table. I live in FL and the humidity may have some impact. I’ve wondered if using something like DampRid would help. Would be interested in anything you find about how to combat the problem.

  12. I have had the same experience with my glassware expensive and cheap. Some are stored in a cherry China cabinet, others in kitchen cabinets. I too, always wash dishes, glassware & silver that hasn’t been used for a while when I’m having guests for dinner. Recently one of my China cabinets all my glassware, antique dishware was found to look dirty…even the glass to the cabinet. I don’t know what that was about. I always thought it was organisms from air growing. I wonder if you cultured the inside of a glass & took it to a lab, what organism would be growing. When I was in college & took chemistry we cultured glasses sitting out in the air….and oh my……we found nasty stuff growing. I don’t remember the organism today…..but, thus, the reason I always turn my glasses upside down & put my silverware shortly after washing.

  13. Susan –
    I have glassware in several cabinets in my kitchen and only ONE of them has that phenomenon on the glasses. They are some inexpensive from Pottery Barn and some are William Yeoward ( NOT inexpensive! ). It does make you feel like you are a terrible housekeeper, or fry chicken for every meal with the cabinet doors open!
    Linda @ A Toile Tale

  14. Yes, I’ve had the greasy glass situation! Mine was primarily with less expensive glass canisters which I stored on the bottom shelf of a closed door wooden cabinet. I always thought maybe it was because that piece sits over closed ductwork and we have natural gas heat. I haven’t noticed it in my kitchen cabinets (all wood), even for infrequently used glass. Interesting!

  15. I’ve had similar problems with glassware over the years.

    I just checked out your new napkins; the price really jumped up! I read the reviews and found out that several people found that the black dye lightened with washing, even using cold water as was indicated in directions. Just thought you’d need to be aware and use something to “fix” the dye before you wash.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your upcoming trip and seeing lots of pictures!

  16. bobbi duncan says

    Hi, Susan, Know you are so glad to have the storage cabinet issues behind you. I have never noticed any type of greasy film on my glassware, but they do get somewhat cloudy if they’ve been stored a long time. Like you, I just wash them when they are needed for a table setting. I LOVE the napkins and the fact that they work great with black and white dish combos, and orange or purple. Too cute! I know you’re probably overflowing with excitement about the Ireland trip. Hope it’s a wonderful one! Hugs!

  17. Rebecca Dexter says

    I am wondering how many of you that are having this problem live in the he south? I live in NE WI and do not have this problem at all and I have glasses (expensive crystal and less expensive fun glass) stored in old non painted wooden cabinets, new non painted wooden cabinets and painted (inside) cabinets. However, in FL it is an entirely different story… even my mirrors get that greasy film so unless some of you are having it happen up north I think it is a southern climate/humidity problem.

  18. Stephanie says

    So very interesting! I had the same problem. My glasses were stored in A wood cabinet as well. I move them to my kitchen cabinets and haven’t had a problem since. I’m wondering if it is the quality of wood? Some wood contains formaldehyde.

  19. Hello all, just putting my two cents in…I live on an island and thought it was from the salt air. After reading these posts, I’m ruling that out. My crystal is kept in a mostly glass china cabinet, cloudy as a storm at sea and the glasses in my kitchen are fine, solid wood cabinetry. As with most folks, I use the kitchen glasses much more than the “fine dining” variety. Now here is the twist, up north in snow country I have another almost identical cabinet in which I store fine crystal. Never a cloudy glass, never ever. I’m still ruling out the salt air theory.

  20. Jacqueline says

    Susan todays post is both timely and interesting. I store my extra wine glasses in a quilted box made for wine glass storage. This is kept in a cabinet (probably particle board covered in Melemine) which is in the basement. Yesterday I got out some gold coloured wine glasses and wondered why they were covered in this icky foggy film. I have used this storage unit for years and never experienced this problem. I live in Alberta Canada in what is usually a very dry climate but this year the humidity is currently at 100 % with all the rain. My good crystal is in a large China cabinet on the main floor and does not present this problem. I am impressed you went to such lengths to discover the cause. I simply washed them and put them on the table. Interesting mystery for sure.

  21. BOY OH BOY, the napkins are fun and I went to the site to pick some up as well.
    It really ticked me off that in one week they doubled in price. Reading they don’t hold up in the wash !!!!!!! Really? Bought black napkins and will have them embroidered with an orange witch. A bit pricier, but I’m not giving those clowns my money.
    Sorry about the creepies on your glasses.

  22. Susan,
    I have had a similar problem storing glassware and crystal in maple cabinets painted white at the factory and lined with washable plastic liner. However, I just checked pieces stored in various areas. The crystal and glassware stored in zippered, divided plastic cases from Bed, Bath, and Beyond are sparkly clean, as are pieces stored in a mahogany server. However, crystal candle holders sitting out have to be washed periodically. I live in an Atlanta suburb. I think it has more to do with air pollution since I do not fry foods.

  23. Gail Stickler says

    A lady at a second hand store told me to rinse them in vinegar. I have done it and they come out beautiful. But it does not keep it from happening again.

  24. I have the same problem no matter where I store my glasses.
    Cute Halloween napkins, too!

  25. I’m not so sure….I have a faux claw foot cabinet like our grandmothers all had, that has only a wood back and the bits of wood to hold the glass in. The insides of that glass gets positively greasy. To empty out the entire cabinet every six months is a pain…and not done!! Some of the dishes and glasses have not been washed in years…look great, and I wash before using.

  26. Kddomingue says

    Okay, so I live in southern Louisiana and you can’t get much more humidity than what we have down here, lol! I have vintage and new glassware, some cheap and some expensive. All of it is stored either in the circa 1950s China hutch with glass front doors on the top section or in the circa 1940-1950s tall, stand alone kitchen cupboard with glass front doors on the upper section. The China hutch is a high end piece made of maple while the cupboard is a painted piece so I’m not sure what it’s made out of. I have zero problems with my glassware in either of them. However, my Fireking and old Corningware that is stored in my 25 year old kitchen cabinets (wood with a painted interior) develop that greasy, soapy coating.

  27. Barbara Ann says

    Would putting a piece of cloth, say heavy cotton, to take up the moisture help?.

  28. I store my fine glassware and dollar store glassware in an antique oak sowbelly cabinet. They, too, get the greasy film on them if not used regularly.
    The solution is just to wash them well before use. Not a big deal!

  29. I’ve always blamed it on pollution or smog, because I have seen it on glassware that is not stored in cabinets but just in an open area of a storage room! I’ve also gotten it on glass table top covers in the storage room.

  30. Honestly…it’s a jungle out there….crizzling??!!?? Mine, too! Think I need to wash a glass and fill it with a red wine. *sigh* franki

  31. Absolutely fascinating post ! We have custom made cabinets & this is
    happening to Waterford, Lalique, antique glassware, & some china. I’m
    also finding this film on the glass doors of the butler’s pantry. I have always
    assumed it was being caused by a chemical breakdown from the overspray
    used to seal the finish. Thank you so much for sharing this information.
    I am reading every post & reply thoroughly.

    • For what it’s worth, I have this problem with the glass doors and windows of two curio cabinets (see details below) where a greasy film has covered all the glass, inside and out. I’ve tried alcohol, ammonia, vinegar, dish soap, and acetone, and although some of these will cut through, some film is still left behind, just spread around. I’ve used clean cotton cloths to apply and other clean ones to wipe off, and still there is a film. If suspect it would go away if I could scrub it with lots of hot soapy water and rinse with a hot water hose, but I can’t do that with these cabinets. DETAILS ABOUT CABINETS: Both cabinets were stored in a detached garage for 14 years in Salt Lake City, UT, where summer temps rise to over 100 and winters are cold, but it is always generally dry. One of these was still in the original packaging, needing to be assembled, so all of the glass was packed with styrofoam on both sides (which could certainly explain the film from outgassing); but the other was assembled right after purchasing, and was packed in it’s original cardboard box with just ONE piece of thin styrofoam up against the front window. But both seem to be equally impacted. But maybe that single piece of styrofoam was enough to cause the problem.

      • I should have added: The curio cabinets have hardwood frames and edging, but the top and bottom flat pieces are laminated particle board, with the rear edge not sealed (so outgassing could have occurred there as well as with the styrofoam).

  32. Gosh and I’ve been blaming my husband’s soy milk for coating my glasses with some clingy film that doesn’t wash out. Guess I owe him an apology. Oopsie.

  33. I can’t believe I’m reading this about glassware. I have recently (just two months ago) experienced the same thing with my glasses. I’ve Googled it too and read to use baking soda sprinkled inside dishwasher. It hasn’t changed anything. Could it be a new additive in the dishwasher detergent? Always comes back even if I wash it by hand. I hope someone solves this soon. Can’t keep buying new glasses.

  34. I have had this problem too. Since I started tablescaping and added extra glassware to my stockpile I’ve noticed with the cheaper stuff that I bought it happens rather easily with them. The stuff I don’t use frequently is in a closet with white laminated shelves so it’s not all wood. It never made sense to me that some would look kind of greasy and the other pieces didn’t. I am convinced it’s something to do with cheaper glass but I didn’t know there was a scientific answer about it!

  35. Nancy Pacittto says

    New glass formulas contain larger amounts of sodium. The sodium attracts moisture to the surface of the glass which in turn attracts airborne dust particles. The dust and moisture combine to produce microscopic “mud” which creates the “greasy feeling.”This can occur on all colors of new glass (especially glassware made in China) as well as some pressed glass and blown glass. Newer glass made in Czech or Poland doesn’t seem to have this problem as much. I have been an antique dealer for over thirty years and I see this all the time when buying glass. I buy what I like and its usually older glass. I wrap my rare crystal and 1930s depression glass in bubble wrap and keep them in airtight rubbermaid containers due to lack of storage space. I also keep about 50 pieces of glassware in my highest wooden kitchen cabinet built in 1937. I use everything for various charity events and club functions. I also do not own a dishwasher. My preference is to hand wash all my glassware and china.

  36. Nancy Pacitto says

    If relative humidity is high, glass will feel slippery and may appear dull. If relative humidity is low, salts will form and the surface will appear patchy or fogged. Crizzling is the appearance of very fine cracks on the surface of deteriorating glass. Check the Corning Museum site if you need more info.

  37. Nancy Pacitto says

    Your cabinetgate affair has proved very eye opening. Perseverance and patience must be your strong suits. I have been looking for good white cabinets for the last few years. But I am physically unable to tackle the project as you described. I would love to have my extensive collections easily accessible.

  38. Cyndi Raines says

    How strange! I live in Michigan and do not have that problem. Crystal goblets are stored in a china hutch with glass front and wooden doors and sit on glass shelves. They just get dusty and get the normal holiday washing. Great job on the garage cabinets!

  39. Susan, Every home I’ve lived in and cabinet I’ve stored glasses in, be it kitchen or dining room hutch, the glasses always acquire a hazy, oily film. Cheapo glasses and my MIL”s 60+ year old crystal stems alike. I always assumed it had something to do with living in the South!

  40. Wow, you’ve opened up a can of worms with this one! I think everyone assumes our glasses were just getting dirty from normal dust and airborne grease and everyday air; what if this stuff is really on ALL our dishware stored in our cabinets, we just can’t see it as clearly as on the glass. Yuck. During the holidays, I always run all the stuff I’ll be using on dinner tables through the DW because it only gets used once a year, and I assume they are dusty from sitting in the china cabinets. I just went and checked on this stack of glass dishes I have that I never use and I don’t see anything on them, not even the top one. Hmmm.

  41. Same gremlin lives at my house. Cheap glasses, expensive glasses, modern, vintage and antique; they all get the yucky film. It washes off easily, however. But a pain in the neck if you haven’t used the glasses for a while and didn’t factor in the half an hour needed to wash and dry them before setting the table! LOL.

  42. Ann Butler says

    I have never heard of this glass issue. I will have to check some of my Mom’s that she has. She has thousands of dishes stored all over the home.

  43. Reggie Dutilly says

    I store some of my glassware in an antique Craftsman piece, the glasses in there get that film, however the glasses I store in my cabinets lined with melamine don’t. I’ll be curious to know if you have this problem in your new storage units.

    • Reggie, I will definitely do a follow-up post in a few months and report back. Would be wonderful if they don’t do that in these cabinets. Not sure if being out in the garage around more humidity will have an effect. We should know in a few months.

  44. I have this problem with all glassware, including expensive crystal if not used frequently. No one has mentioned this, but I also get the same film on glass front cabinets in my kitchen and built ins in our family room. These are stained solid wood with raindrop glass fronts. My mostly glass storage cabinet and my china hutch in the dining room get it, too, to a lesser extent. They are stained, but not solid wood. I’ll be very interested to see what you discover, Susan.

  45. Hi Susan, Thanks for the info. I keep five different sets of glassware (none of them expensive) in my wooden kitchen cabinet. Of the five sets, only one set gets that cloudy, greasy look. I always wondered why it was only that set that would get dirty. Thanks for putting a name to this condition. Wish there was a cure though!

  46. Snowflake281 says

    I recently assisted in cleaning out an estate where there was so much glassware, the likes of which I’ve never seen before and probably never will again, all vintage. I came across many sets of glasses that were so slippery that I almost dropped a few. It felt like they had a thin layer of grease on them, yet they were not stored in the kitchen, but they were in wood cabinets.

  47. As far as the very recent large price increase for Halloween napkins, I have purchased hundreds of items from Amazon in the last 8+ years and have watched prices go up with alarming regularity, sometimes overnight. I believe that many prices are increased when someone either buys the item or, in a couple of my cases, added it to their watch list. Notice they are claiming it is still a bargain at 8% off a suggested price.

    Amazon has ticked me off more than a few times over this and I began to pay close attention, especially when I purchased the same item a short time later and found a huge price increase, as has been done with the napkins. My guess is that the original price was set artificially low or reduced to attract buyers, then raised when the item began to sell.

    • Lynn, it annoys me when this happens, too. I don’t remember this happening in years past…it seems to be something that started in the last year or so. I noticed Walmart did something similar recently. I purchased two sets of the shelves that I put in the garage from them, then when I decided to purchase two more, the price had gone up, a lot! I waited a couple of days and looked again and the price was back down. It doesn’t happen on all items, though…like the Frye Tote I purchased recently. I don’t think the price jumped up on it. It’s really disappointing when it happens. πŸ™

      • Actually, I first noticed it in 2013 when I bought a total of 15-20 rolls of ribbon, mostly red burlap from one seller, and it shot from around $10 a roll to $20 within a week or 2. I think it happens on lesser expensive items like your napkins or my ribbon. Messing with Frye or some high end product would likely be noticed.

  48. I have not had a problem like that with my glassware. So I have no clue why this happens.

  49. Janice Vogt says

    My Mother in Law has always said that my gas range causes this. It only happens on glasses I do not use very often.

  50. I figured my glasses were cloudy due to the moisture in the lower cabinet in my China Hutch and sideboard. I threw in some of those moisture packets that come in purses and in shoe boxes, etc. I also put them in the corners of the upper China cabinet. That pretty much solved the problem. I still wash them before I use them. So don’t throw away those little packets!

  51. What do you do to rid yourself of smokey haze on the glass? I haven’t found the right washing detergent to work on colored or. Clear glass.

    • Hi Amy,
      A BNOTP reader named Patricia just left a comment on my current post and she mentioned having an issue that sounds very similar to what you’re dealing with. Here’s what she wrote, in case it’s helpful: “Reading about your glassware issues motivated me to address the clouding that is appearing on my everyday glassware. Apparently it’s due to hard water and using rinse aid and occasional vinegar wash is the answer.”
      So you may want to try adding a rinse aid in when you run your dishwasher and occasionally wash them in vinegar.
      I remember hearing that the water here in Georgia where I live isn’t pretty balanced. I don’t think we have hard water, so maybe that’s why I haven’t seen the clouding issue on my everyday glasses.

  52. I have noticed this problem for about 15 years, which is how long I have had significant glassware sets that go unused for months or more at a time. I never analyzed it before. Now I am curious. I have at least 100 different sets of glassware in three houses, one all electric, one propane heat and cooking and one natural gas.

    After reading all the posts I have the following to offer:

    All my cabinets are finished wood, some lacquered, varnished, painted and some with mostly glass in wood frames. A lot of my glassware and glass what-nots, maybe 60%, develop an oily film that probably mixes with dust causing a muddy slick cloudiness after a few months to a year. The difference between glassware with the problem and not is dramatic and not related to age, color, altitude, value or position in the cabinet. My glassware with the problem can be antique crystal, vintage depression, modern expensive and cheap dollar store.

    My vintage milk-glass does not have the problem in any environment. My modern non-leaded crystal from Schott-Zwiesel and similar companies has not exhibited the problem. Some glassware that sits unused, old, new, clear, colored, etched and plain stays clear and clean for years until it gradually develops slight cloudiness.

    Some of my horizontal glass shelves have the problem while the vertical sides do not-they are clear year after year except for finger marks. The horizontal shelves have significant oily cloudiness after 6-8 months but the antique Wedgwood displayed on them only accumulates a residue needing cleaning after 3-4 years. This cabinet is not near the kitchen. The vertical glass is beveled and thick and the shelves are ordinary glass. My glassware develops the problem on vertical surfaces equally to horizontal.

    I have boxes of cheap glassware bought 25 years ago for $1 a glass, used 3 times and stored in an outdoor metal cupboard. When the simple cardboard boxes were opened, the glassware was pristine.

    I have a vacation home, in snow country, with low humidity, open 5 months a year, where a lot of old family depression glasses are stored in old drafty wood cabinets and some can go unused over a year or two. They do not have this problem. There is an electric stove there, no gas. Some glasses were found there on a high shelf having not been used for about 9 years and had a minimal cloudiness, but NOT the problem we are discussing.

    In the few instances my glassware is left out for months on display like a crystal bowl or liquor set, it gets dusty and a bit cloudy after years but does not exhibit anywhere near as dramatic a problem as glassware stored in cabinets. Glassware well wrapped in bubble wrap, cloth or paper does not develop the problem.

    The problem is most pronounced with glassware in my propane household. My house with no gas is free of the problem, even though it is the house with the most glassware that is unused for extended periods of time. Glass stored outside any house even in unsealed boxes has not exhibited the problem. Glassware in never opened factory sealed boxes does not exhibit the problem.

    I rarely deep fry food, bacon is cooked in the oven. Some glassware near the stove does not have the problem and glass at a distance from the kitchen does. None of my homes has high humidity. All are cleaned regularly, and the only one with significant dust/pollen/dirt issues is the all electric one where the glassware is free of the problem.

    Hmmmmm ?? ??? ????

    I hypothesize that some, but not all formulas used for making glass cause the products to develop a chemical reaction in households that use gas to cook and heat and when stored in an enclosed space like a cupboard the chemical composition of the glassware reacts with the gas altered air to develop an oily residue. This film attracts dust and combines to create the sticky film we have been observing. It stands to reason that high humidity would make the problem worse.

    • Karen, your reasoning sounds very plausible to me. My house is heated with gas heat, although my stove is electric. I could have gone with gas when I replaced my stove many years ago, but just stayed with electric. I’m sure it must be a mixture of factors as you mentioned since not all my glassware does it, and some does it only slightly while some does it A LOT! So I think the chemical makeup, where it’s stored, the humidity, etc… all factors into it.

      • The more of these posts I read, the more confused I am. There don’t seem to be obvious common factors. I live in Tampa, but my house is very climate controlled on account of trying to keep the house pollen free, so I run the A/C or heat all year long–I rarely have the windows open. I really don’t have this problem in my MDF storage cabinetry, only in the wood cabinets (all types and qualities of glass, as mentioned in most posts). My house is completely electric, and I’ve never used the fireplace.

        So let’s talk solutions, which would be easier if we could pinpoint the actual cause. I’m going to store an open baking soda box in one of the cabinets after I wash the contents and see how it looks after a year. I’ll be back…

        • Let me know if the baking soda works. It really is a mystery. I think it has something to do with the composition of the glass itself because glasses I have washed and placed in the exact same cabinet, react differently. Some became covered in the slimy film again within a year while others in the same cabinet are still fine. So it’s not the storage conditions…has to be something with the glasses themselves.

  53. I got that film on my cut-crystal goblets stored in a closed china cabinet, so it isn’t just cheap glass that gets it. I’m glad to find out that it isn’t something I did wrong.

  54. Yup! What’s UP with that? It has a metallic taste/smell if not washed off properly too.

    I was worried I had old glasses with high lead content and was just about to replace them when I saw that it seems prevalent even in new cheap or expensive glasses. Futility! For the record, I have old painted wood cabinets and a gas range.

  55. Leslie Rachel Stigers says

    I have the same problem on cheap newer and older more expensive glassware. Looks like the problem is a combination of wood cabinets, humidity and temperature. Some of my glassware is stored in a Cherry Cabinet and others in a cheaper cabinet. I seem to have more issues with th ones stored in the older Cherry Cabinet.
    Could it be glass disease or what is known as sick glass? This is also caused by humidity issues.
    https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/26-september-2005-conservation-scientists-crack-the-glass-disintegration-mystery/3000123.article

  56. Hi Susan, same problem here in the south. Both the expensive Lenox glassware and cheap glasses develop this film. It happens stored in painted white cabinets, oak cabinets, china cabinet and butlers pantry cabinets with glass front doors. I also find that my glass dome cake pedestal stored in my pantry gets clouded as well when not used for some time. I don’t ever remember this happening when I lived up North. Just strange, huh?

  57. Julie Williams says

    Susan, were you ever successful in getting the cloudy film off your glassware? I just noticed this onset here in a maple hutch. Yikes. Several websites suggested different cleaning methods https://www.hunker.com/13422942/how-to-clean-cloudy-antique-glass
    but none of them said it was permanent. Your resources suggested it could be permanent? I wonder if I should poly varnish the inside of my one maple Ethan Allen hutch… Julie

    • Yeah, the film that appears on my glassware, washes off with detergent. So it isn’t permanent (thank goodness) and never damages the glasses. I really hope it doesn’t come back now that I have them all stored in the new cabinets out in the garage, but it may. I also put several of the little silica gel desiccant packets on each shelf with the glasses, just in case that discourages it or slows it down from coming back.Thanks for that link, I’ll check it out!

  58. In my cabinet (glass doors front and back, wood sides) I have several different types of glass, from Baccarat and Waterford on down to Pier One. For me it only happens on the Pier One glass. No matter how I wash them, the Pier One glass gets that oily film after about a week or two of non-use. The other glasses don’t “catch” the disease from the Pier One glass. So, why in my world (San Diego, CA) is the expensive stuff spared? This makes me think that we are dealing with more than one issue here. My expensive glass should be involved, just like everyone else’s, but it’s not. I worked for Anthropologie for years, and I remember unwrapping countless shipments of glassware from all over the world. The glassware from Asian nations tended to have the oily film, the glasses from Europe did not. I think there’s for sure a regional component in the manufacturing process and/or materials used to make glass, that accounts for some of the problem. Ugh, I just want it to go away and not come back, I like my cheap stuff!

    • You could be right, Ren! Sounds like there is a difference depending on where it’s made and the composition. It’s super annoying! Mine takes a bit longer to start forming, I think more like around 6 months. Maybe where it’s stored also figures in to how fast it comes back. I don’t think I have this issue with the glasses that I have stored in my kitchen cabinets that are rarely used. Those cabinets are painted, inside and out. The glasses I’ve had this issue with are the ones stored in the stained, wood cabinets in my laundry room that are unpainted.

  59. Sheila Alvira says

    I have this issue with a square glass vase I have, and it has never been stored in a cabinet. It has always been displayed with fake flowers. I live in Florida, so maybe it’s heat or humidity??? I, for the life of me, cannot figure it out. If you have a way to remove it I would appreciate some insight!

    • I was able to remove the film on my glassware by just washing it. Can you remove the flowers to wash it? Hopefully, they are the removable kind and glued down inside.

  60. Long story short, this is not what is known as sick glass! if you can wash off the hazy white powdery or greasy substance that accumulated on the clean glasses, if it has an odor, of you can smudge it or it has a soapy or chemical taste, it isn’t sick glass. it is a residue of some kind either dust or foreign material coming from the environment ei the cabinet or surrounding space, and if it is accumulating on your glasses, you are breathing it in the air too. All I can say is yuck and my belief is the cabinet fabricators and building material manufacturers need to address this issue because this is a modern, issue of the last 30 years or so. Consider how many more houses have vinyl siding than ever before. Air quality is so very important to everyone’s health. I have not figured out how to stop the haze build up short of replacing the vinyl edging holding the window pains into my new cherry cabinets. I haven’t noticed it in my other cabinets.
    I am supersized no one has suggested off gassing of plastic from the modern varnishes and glues used in MDF products paints and coatings. Vinyl is another product that off gasses a hazie substance. Remember your windows in your new car? The vinyl lets chemicals off into the air of your closed car especially in hot weather. It is common for cabinet companies to use vinyl strips to hold glass in the cabinet doors in and some people like using LED rope for cabinet lighting. I don’t know the composition of the clear coat they put on “wood cabinetry ie veneer over MDF ” these days, but I have never had issues with oil based vanish or oil based paint over real solid wood or older 1960s plywood furniture, only in my brand new veneered MDF cherry cabinets with a non glossy water-based clear coat. Sick glass is caused by accumulative damage to the surface of the glass, leaching soluble components out of the surface of the glass by acidic or caustic/basic chemicals/detergents or foods and drink. it causes etching of the glass surface. glass is not one material it is a mixture of inorganic meltable minerals and metal oxides. some of those components can be susceptible to damage from accumulated exposure to acidic or basic substances. the majority are non toxic glass formers with a variety of melting temperatures that glass companies use to get the glass to melt at a certain temperature and that improve the glasses behavior in manufacturing, hardness, clarity or color etc. Lead crystal is not particularly bad as long as you don’t store liquids especially acidic liquids in in for extended periods. or drink out of high lead crystal every single day. Never wash crystal in the dishwasher! Phosphates intended to help buffer and protect your fine china and glass from the caustic nature of dish detergent have been reduced or eliminated so hand wash those delicate items. Wine is worse than liquors, but some liquors contain acidity and will leach lead from the surface of crystal or other minerals from glass, causing a microscopically rough surface that appears fogged or cloudy. The main reason lead is popular with crystal companies is that it is the lead that gives it that beautiful clarity and prismatic effect when cut with designs as well as helping liquefy the silica which melts at about 3000 degrees Fahrenheit at a lower temperature and allowing the glass to be made with much less fuel lead melts at around 600 degrees another thing that it does is makes the air bubbles that get trapped in the melting glass rise out quickly reducing the time necessary to “Soak” or otherwise known as waiting for the glass to clarify and reach a homologous consistency before using. It also gives the Cristal its distinctive harmonic resonance. There are other semi soluble minerals besides lead that are not toxic that are used in glass making that can become etched the same way lead Cristal can under similar circumstances. That is why sick glass can happen to many different levels of quality of glass. only use mild detergent on glass that means a lot to you or test one for a weeks washings before trusting all of a new set to your detergent until you have tested it first. The same if you change soaps! formulas differ.

    • Here’s the thing that doesn’t make sense…not all glasses in the same cabinet develop the film. So that’s why I think it has something to do with the make-up/composition of the glass, too.

  61. I am having the greasy cloudy problem with a set of glass pumpkins I purchased from QVC ages ago. They are not stored in a wooden cabinet, but wrapped in paper and stored in a tote. Washing with hot water and Dawn seems to make it go away for awhile but then it creeps back up. Will try the vinegar soak.

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