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The DO's and DONT's of Glass Washing
Posted on 6. December, 2016

For those of us unfortunately old enough to remember this, in the 1980s wiping glasses with a tea towel became an illegal practice. Before this any number of unsavoury things used to happen, even so far as washing ash trays and glasses in the same wash bowl! Because glass cleaning was a laborious task, licensees would often not change your drinking glass between pints.


How different things were then eh?

Hygiene regulations have forced a change in attitude and now we all expect to be given a sparkling clean sterile glass, replaced every time we order a drink, so why is it that this is so often not the case?
Cask Marque (a beer-industry sponsored beer-keeping and serving accreditation body) set out some guidelines, highlighting the problem of dirty glasses and explaining how to identify and rectify problems.


The following are unacceptable to the customer:
• Dirty or unhygienic glasses.
• Flat beer/poor head retention.
• Streaks and spots left on glasses.
• Etching or permanent damage to the glass.


All pretty straightforward and quite familiar to regular pub-goers.

Cask Marque suggest taking a moist white serviette and wipe the inside of a ‘supposedly’ clean glass and if there is a brown deposit on the serviette, then this shows there is protein build up from real ales inside the glass and in fact the glass is not ‘beer clean’.

Washed glass quality accounts for more than 60% of all dispensing problems. So, what are the signs of your glass not being ‘Beer Clean’?

Flat Beer/Poor Head Retention

Non-rinsing films lead to poor head retention. The head can be killed by chemical residue on the glass from using poor quality glass washing chemicals.

Flat beer can also be caused by fatty deposits from glasses that have been washed in the same basket as liqueur cups (Irish coffees etc...)

Beer will also lose its head or lager will taste flat if the glass is not thoroughly ‘air dried’, especially if the glass has a nucleate at the bottom. If the glass isn’t thoroughly dry the lager will not get the right gas release from the nucleate.

Spots and Streaks

Dull glassware often indicates microbial contamination – protein deposits from real ales stick to the insides of the glass.

Scratched and poor quality older glasses lead to poor customer satisfaction. Etching on a glass can cause a build-up of dirt and give the glass a cloudy look.

Poor quality rinse aid will not shed much of the water when the glasses go through their final rinse in the glasswasher. Once the glass is dry, this leaves unsightly water marks and smears on the glass.

Limescale – if you are in a hard water area, it is imperative that you have a water treatment fitted to your glasswasher, as the scale will cling to the inside and outside of a glass and leave a milky residue which not only looks unsightly, but also kills the head of the beer.

Glass Renovation

Glasses in pubs do not last very long, and detergents used in the glasswasher will eventually etch the glass over time. Renovating the glassware will help to pro-long the life of the glass before its ready for the bin.

All new glasses coming into the pub should be renovated to remove the manufacturers film, and then we recommend renovating the glassware once a month until it is clearly visible that the glass is past its best.


So, for good glass washing DO the following:
- Clean the wash arms, filters and inside the wash tank daily
- Remove everything from glasses such as cocktail sticks, fruit peel and pips
- Ensure all drink residues are disposed of prior to washing BUT not inside the washtank, they should be poured down the sink!
- Pre-rinse any glasses used for specialty coffees or cocktails that contain cream or fatty residues
- Always store glasses in an inverted position in basket units or on ventilated drip trays
- Renovate glasses regularly
- Have your glasswasher serviced regularly (we recommend every 6 months)

And the DONT’S:
- Put ashtrays, coffee cups or anything other than glasses in the glasswasher
- Wash glasses without detergent or rinseaid
- Use scented bleaches or other cleaning agents to clean inside the glasswasher
- Use a cloth to dry the inside of a glass
- Stack glasses on top of each other


So, don’t stand for an unclean, scratched and tired looking glass…if you get a dirty glass… send it back!


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