When you need to wash your shot glasses, do you put them in the dishwasher? Do you hand wash them? Do you even need to wash them?

As with all good questions, the answer is: it depends. It depends on what the shot glass is made of (as it’s not always glass) and whether there are any elements that could fade or chip off. Below are a few methods to choose from when trying to clean your shot glasses.

Also check out: Best Shot Glass Serving Trays

Do you have to wash shot glasses if nobody drinks out of them?

If you just used your shot glass for measuring and pouring liquor, and nobody actually put their mouth on it, you can get away with just a quick rinse. The alcohol is sterile, so there’s nothing germy about it. You just need to make sure it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Giving your shot glass a rinse and setting it out to dry will lead to less wear and tear than giving it a full wash.

BUT, if anyone drank out of the shot glass, it’s best to wash it, using one of the methods below. 

Should You Put Shot Glasses in the Dishwasher, or Hand Wash Them?

Most plain glass shot glasses will be okay in the dishwasher. Plain ceramic usually is as well. Just place them in a way that they won’t bounce around and get chipped. To do this, you can alternate glass and plastic so breakable items aren’t next to each other. The top rack of the dishwasher will be gentler on them.

But glasses with paint or a coating should be washed by hand. Colorful elements (graphics or gold rims, for example) can fade much more quickly if you run them through the dishwasher. Shot glasses made with unique materials – wood, marble, clay, granite, etc. – should also be hand washed.

If you stick a painted shot glass in the dishwasher, it’ll be fine for a while, but after several washes, you’ll eventually end up with the sad situation below!

Shot glass with faded graphics.

No more beautiful gold beach scene.

The best way to wash more delicate shot glasses is to use your fingers and soap to scrub the surfaces. You could potentially use a sponge or washcloth, but you run the risk of scratching the glasses if any debris particles have gotten trapped by the sponge or cloth. 

Washing Vintage Shot Glasses

There are plenty of people out there who collect vintage shot glasses, like 100+ year old pre-prohibition glasses. 

Pre-prohibition shot glass.
A pre-prohibition shot glass from pre-pro.com

Pretty cool right? Due to their age, those require some extra special care. A pre-prohibition glass expert explains that the best way to clean these old shot glasses is to hold them over a towel and wash with gently-running water, scrubbing lightly with your fingers and a mild dish detergent. Be sure to pat them dry, paying special attention to the label, which is prone to rubbing off. 


If you want to class up your next party, be sure to check out this list of great shot glass serving trays!


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