Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It)

Who is up for a little thrifting trip? I popped into a local thrift store yesterday (the equivalent of Goodwill in my area) and came home with a vintage glassware set. Among the top things I search for when thrifting is glassware, books, pottery, and art. I will always make time to go down those four aisles. Even if I find nothing else, I feel glassware is pretty much a guarantee… you can always find something cool. Today, I wanted to share my best tips for thrifting good vintage glassware, along with how I clean it. I know some are hesitant to purchase used items because of cleanability, and luckily- glassware is the easiest to sanitize and clean.

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

Aside from the glassware we carry in my shop (check out classic glassware from Tuesday Made here!), most of the drinkware in our home is vintage. It’s been a hobby of mine for quite some time, as you might have guessed from our basement bar and vintage hutch. Here’s how I find the good stuff…

What To Look For (How to Find the Good Stuff)

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

To keep things quick and easy, I’ll just share an itemized list of things I’m looking for in the glassware department…

  • A full set or even numbers (typically 4, 6, or 8)
  • Crystal
  • Interesting shapes and forms
  • A maker’s mark (this could include “made in”, a stamp, a logo, etc)
  • Seeded glass (anything with bubbles, hammered texture, seeds, or reeds)
  • Something with a nice weight that feels good in hand
  • Unique colors (I’m partial to green glass)
  • High quality (no mass produced seams)
  • Pressed or patterned glass
  • Anything handblown
  • Items in excellent condition
Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

I spotted these fluted glasses with a silver rim, that were extremely dirty but reminded me of something I’d recently seen at Ralph Lauren Home. They were interesting, felt good in hand, I liked the edge detail, there were no evident seams, and while they were gross- I knew they had potential.

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

I grabbed the set for $6 total… $1 per glass from my local thrift store. I brought them home and immediately gave them a good cleaning. Here’s how…


Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

For glassware that is super delicate, has a gold or silver rim, or is printed / painted, I’ll opt for hand-washing. I have a pretty good instinct if something will survive the dishwasher- or not. I filled my sink with very hot water, dish soap, and vinegar, allowing the glassware to soak for a few hours while I ran errands. I scrubbed them, gave them a good rinse, and dried them to reveal clean, pristine glasses!

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

For glassware that is more durable, I have no problem running them through the dishwasher on a deep clean or sanitizing cycle. I wasn’t sure how the silver rim would hold up in this instance, so I played it safe.

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

Above, they had just came from the sink to the drying mat, before I toweled them off. Not bad, right?

Vintage Glassware Finds

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

I debated where I wanted these glasses to live… upstairs in the main kitchen on our open kitchen shelving, OR- the basement bar within the vintage hutch. Upstairs, I could see these being used at the coffee bar for weekend mimosas. Downstairs, they make perfect since for any wine, liquor, or cocktail. They fit right in with our existing collection.

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

For fun, I figured I’d scour Chairish to find some good glassware options for you- if you’re also in the market for spring & summer entertaining. Etsy and Ebay are also amazing resources for vintage glassware.

Click directly on each glass below to be redirected.

Do you like any of these? Where do you think my new glassware set should live? Kitchen or basement bar? I’m still contemplating!

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -


What is your best glassware score?

French crystal decanters that can be found in our vintage hutch at the basement bar. I found them at an estate sale.

What kind of glassware are you keeping an eye out for?

Crystal, French & Italian glass, anything handblown or seeded, pressed glass, decanters, and things outside of drinkware, too… dishes or pedestals, trays, vases, etc.

What is the dish soap to vinegar ratio for cleaning?

I usually do 1:1… which typically does the trick for a deep clean. Then I use a towel to dry them off.

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -


Looking for more thrifting, kitchen, drinkware, or entertaining posts? I’ll link some of my personal favorites below…

Tips for Thrifting Good Vintage Glassware (& How to Clean It) -

I hope you liked this one! I just happened to pop into the thrift store yesterday because I had 15 minutes to burn before a doctor appointment, so it’s always a fun surprise when you walk out with something unexpected… even better when it sparks an impromptu blog post. Have a great day, friends!

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  1. Good morning! Love a good glassware score! The kitchen aisles are definitely where I spend the bulk of my time. I generally seek crystal and colored examples. Because I already own so much vintage glass, I now really focus on interesting shapes, unique details, or new-to-me colors. I tend to avoid gold or silver rimmed glasses because I dislike how they wear. (Picky) Finding an especially grungy set can actually be exciting though. Ha. It sometimes signals precious pieces that sat on the shelf because they were “too good” for everyday use. I’m torn about purchasing even numbered sets. While they absolutely display better, I’ve come to appreciate an extra because breakage in my house is inevitable.🙄 Also, I host odd-numbered gatherings! My best score (so far) was four pristine ribbed Waterford double old fashioned glasses. 😍 My top wishlist item atm is a tortoiseshell set. I know I could buy them new, but where’s the fun of that? I’m hitting a “one day only” estate sale on Saturday, so fingers crossed for treasures! Cheers to a sunny Wednesday, Sarah! We’re supposed to hit 70 this week!💜☀️

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      I know you love and appreciate glassware as much as I do, Peggi! Your collection definitely surpasses my own. I also spend the majority of my time in the kitchen aisles. Really good point about breakage and grabbing an extra- I also feel bad about splitting collections up… they’ve probably existed together this long. Your Waterford old fashioned glasses sound incredible- that’s my kind of score!! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for tortoiseshell glassware for you. It’s always fun to know what everyone is on the hunt for. Fingers crossed your one day estate sale this weekend proves fruitful! My fingers are crossed for you. We have a few good estate sales in my area coming up, that I’m debating. I’m sure I’ll get FOMO and end up swinging by. Cheers to sunny weather and warmer temps, indeed! xo

  2. Good morning! You have far better luck than I do! I usually peruse the glassware and most in my area are one off’s. The only set I’ve ever scored was a set of eight delicate crystal goblets for ice cream serving- they’re as cute as they sound. The crystal set on the bottom left of your roundup is reminiscent of the glassware we had when I grew up- so naturally I’m drawn to that one. I love your cleaning tips; vinegar in the water is so smart, and yet I’d never have thought of that. Your glassware is beautiful, and would look amazing upstairs on the open shelving. I love a unique glass for serving juice or mimosas at breakfast, just saying. Ha! As always your tips are incredibly useful- cheers to an unexpected stop, and a gorgeous score! We’ve had moments of spring, although the temperatures are still pretty cold. We have spent the past few weekends getting garden beds ready for planting- we’re almost there! Yesterday was a fun day hitting the building suppliers to source gravel and stepping stones. This weekend we will be backfilling and leveling, and getting beds set in their places. It’s starting to all come together. Happy Wednesday!!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Good morning, Lauren! It’s so interesting how thrifting varies by location. Your crystal goblets sounds incredible though! I think I may leave though upstairs… juice or mimosas in a fancy glass does sound like something I’d like in my life, ha. Our spring has looked pretty similar to yours- really nice moments, but chilly and stormy for the most part. No complaints though- I know it’s close to sticking around! It sounds like you’re doing major work in the garden and outside- that will be super nice! I know how much work it is, but it will be worth it. Hope you have a good Wednesday! xo

  3. My best vintage glassware thrift was a bit of a shock – about 15 years ago I found a trove of my wedding crystal (circa 1979) just as I needed 14-16 settings but my original 12 were depleted by chips and stem decapitations. I paid 80 cents a stem at my local Salvation Army store and also winced to realize I and my wedding gifts were now ‘vintage’.
    I love looking for quality mid-century American made housewares – cooking utensils like spatulas and ladles, cast iron skillets, hammered aluminum trays, Candlewick stemware. It has been used for 50+ years, and will serve for 50 or more with sensible care.
    Enjoy your vintage finds, Sarah, and USE them!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Wow!! What an amazing, Kari! Also, I had to laugh at your “vintage” wedding fits, lol. Love to hear this story about how things are still functional and timeless 50+ years later. Hope you’re having a great week!

  4. If your glassware is cloudy you can use denture cleaner.

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this tip, KJ!