How to Care for Drinkware: Tips for Cleaning of Glassware, Benefits of Handwashing & More

Whether you’ve gotten a new drinkware set to use at your business or were given something special from someone else, it’s important to know how to clean your cups and bottles properly. If you want to know how to sanitize glassware and other custom drinkware without damaging the imprint or the drinkware itself, read on to learn about handwashing, dishwashers, and which one fits your drinkware. Whether you have ceramic mugs, glitzy glassware, or travel mugs with high-quality insulation, how you care for your drinkware will impact how long you get the best use from them. 

Benefits of Handwashing and When to Do It

While some people find the act of handwashing their dishes therapeutic, most can agree that it’s easier to just put your dishes in a dishwasher. So then why do we hand wash our drinkware? 

  1. It preserves the imprint. Your new mug or other drinkware may be dishwasher safe, but the imprint might not be. The intense heat and water blasts from your dishwasher can wear away at an imprint on full color promotional drinkware. Unless the care instructions specifically say dishwasher safe, don’t risk the dishwasher on custom drinkware.
  1. It preserves the insulation. Insulated travel mugs, tumblers, and thermoses often have double-walled insulation, vacuum insulation, special linings, and more that can be damaged by the intense heat and pressure created by the dishwasher.
  1. It prevents warping. Plastic cups are especially prone to warping in the dishwasher due to the intense heat. Even if a plastic cup is said to be dishwasher safe, make sure you don’t stretch it between the prongs on your dishwasher rack, and keep it on the top rack where the heat is less intense.
  1. It’s more effective. While simple mugs and cups are easily cleaned by the dishwasher, more complex travel mugs with lids have hidden crevices and creases that the dishwasher jets can’t reach well. Hand-washing will offer a more thorough clean with these types of drinkware.

Dishwasher Safe vs Top-Rack Dishwasher Safe

What Does Dishwasher Safe Mean?

Dishwasher safe is a label given to drinkware that can be washed in the dishwasher without damage. While some are labeled as “top rack safe” or just “dishwasher safe”, you should take both to mean the same thing. Drinkware goes on the top rack, furthest from the heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher. Even dishwasher-safe ceramics should be kept at the top with custom drinkware to protect the imprint.  

How Do I Know If My Drinkware is Dishwasher Safe?

The only way to know for sure is if your custom drinkware is labeled as dishwasher safe. Without this label, hand-washing is always best to preserve your drinkware and its custom imprint. If you don’t have access to the original care instructions on your drinkware, check the bottom. Most dishwasher-safe drinkware will have a symbol on the bottom, side, or handle indicating that it is dishwasher safe. This symbol varies in design, but is typically a square with something to represent both a dish and water inside, like a cup and water droplet or a plate under and diagonal lines. Remember, this means the drinkware is dishwasher safe, but the custom imprint might still not be. 

Still not completely sure if you should put it in the dishwasher? Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. Is the material likely to be damaged by the dishwasher? Easily warped or color-changing plastic, different types of insulation, unfinished ceramics, and other materials can be damaged by the heat and pressure of a dishwasher. If your custom drinkware doesn’t seem like it can withstand that kind of regular intense cleaning, don’t risk it!
  1. Is the imprint likely to be damaged by the dishwasher? While a laser-engraved or etched imprint isn’t likely to be affected by the dishwasher, most other types of ink-based imprints will be. Even if the first time through the dishwasher doesn’t do anything, repeated exposure to the heat and pressure will wear it away over time.
  1. How much do you really like your drinkware? Unless you’re completely sure your drinkware and imprint are dishwasher safe, do you really want to risk it? For something you love and want to last, err on the side of hand-washing to ensure it lasts.

How to Clean Coffee Stains From Mugs

Tea and coffee can be tasty, but it contains something called tannins. This plant-based chemical is often used in tanning leather or making ink, and as you can guess, it stains. So how do you get those dark rings out of your favorite coffee mug? The best ways that don’t involve damaging your mug include one or all of the following: 

  1. Soap and hot water: If the stain is fresh, a good hot soak with soap right before a vigorous scrub can help prevent your tannin stains from settling into the glaze of your mug.
  1. Baking soda: A cleaning classic, scrubbing with baking soda can help lift the stains out of your mug. Note – don’t scrub your imprint with the baking soda! Your imprint is a type of stain that you definitely want to last, so only use this method on the inside of the cup or on the coffee stains directly.
  1. Distilled white vinegar: Another powerful cleaner, a soak in white vinegar can help loosen the stain, allowing it to scrub away afterwards. Again, this is best kept to the inside of the mug to protect your imprint. Want to know how to clean cloudy glassware? This same method works for scrubbing away that hardwater buildup, too!

While harsher detergents and bleach can work wonders, these gentle cleaners are less likely to cause damage to your new favorite custom mug. 

How to Clean Water Bottle Lids

Water bottle lids contain a lot of little ridges that can trap moisture and bacteria, breeding mold and other problems over time. So how do you clean it? Follow these steps to keep your favorite lids clean: 

  1. Take apart what you can: Does it have a removable rubber gasket? A removable straw? Whatever parts can be removed should be washed separately in order to get into every little ridge and crease that could harbor bacteria.
  1. Soak in distilled white vinegar: If there are a lot of different moving parts (typical with flip spout lids) soaking all of it in distilled white vinegar can reach in and kill bacteria hiding in the crevices that trap moisture. To avoid a lid that always tastes like vinegar, skip the vinegar soak for most cleanings and only do it once every month or so. Baking soda solutions can also be a good substitute to avoid that vinegar taste but still kill the bacteria.
  1. Scrub what you can reach: A bottle brush and straw cleaner are two very useful tools for getting into the hard-to-reach places of a bottle and lid. After a good soak, scrub everywhere you can reach and give a thorough rinse.

Not sure how to clean metal water bottle, or how to clean a glass bottle instead of a plastic one? Vinegar is a gentle but powerful cleaner for any type of water bottle, so don’t worry about the material unless you’re using bleach or something that could corrode the finish on your metal water bottle over time. Baking soda is more abrasive than vinegar, and while it is safe for most metals, it should be avoided for aluminium material. 

No matter how you sanitize your glassware and drinkware, it’s important to keep in mind how your method affects your drinkware over time. Dishwashers are effective, but often too forceful on delicate materials. While hand-washing can be tedious, it can help protect your drinkware for longer lasting imprints and performance. 

Katie Yelisetti

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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