Why Do Bartenders Always Polish Glasses?

why do bartenders always polish glasses
Joe | Last Updated: May 23, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

If you’ve ever noticed that bartenders always seem to be polishing glasses, then you’re not alone. Many people find themselves wondering about this intriguing ritual that seems to take up a lot of the bartender’s time.

Whilst it may seem a bit pointless on the surface, there’s a method to the madness, and glass polishing is much more than just cleaning the glass and making it look presentable.

In this post, we’re going to delve deeper into the reasons why bartenders always seem to be polishing glasses and the reasons behind this practice so that the next time you see a bartender doing this you know why it’s worth the effort.

In short, glass polishing is done for multiple reasons which include providing customers with sparkling clean glasses, helping the liquid to pour and be measured correctly, as well as making the glass safer and more hygienic.

Let’s get into it…

Why Do Bartenders Polish Glasses?

Whilst it may look like bartenders are simply wasting time by polishing glasses, they are doing it for very good reasons that help the bar’s credibility and return customer rate.

Polishing glasses is an easy but rewarding part of a bartender’s role that can be the difference in a customer returning or leaving a bad review.

Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why bartenders polish glasses.


Aesthetics is everything in the world of bartending. Punters love to watch bartenders create complex cocktails using multiple ingredients to then be presented with an aesthetically pleasing drink at the end of the process.

A well-polished glass looks much more appealing and attractive to customers than one that has scratches or some red lipstick stains on it from the previous customer.

Serving drinks in sparkling clean glasses helps create a luxury atmosphere in the bar and enhances the drinking experience for all customers.

why do bartenders always polish glasses
Photo by Toni Cuenca

If you’ve ever been to a low-end, run-down bar then you’ve likely been served a class that is dirty and this can prompt you to return the drink and leave the bar.

It’s a good sign when you notice bartenders polishing glasses as you can bet that the establishment cares about the presentation and cleanliness of the drinks they serve.


This leads me to the next reason why bartenders polish glasses which is for safety and hygienic reasons.

Who wants to drink out of a glass that has barely been washed and still has stains on it? Not me and I’m sure you don’t either.

Clean glasses are important for maintaining a high standard of cleanliness in the bar as dirty glasses can harbor bacteria and other contaminants that can cause illness.

You would be shocked at how easy it is to catch viruses by drinking from a glass that is dirty, which is why bartenders should always ensure glasses are sanitized properly before use.

Longevity & Durability

Cleaning glasses can help to increase longevity and durability by removing dirt and grime that can weaken the glass over time.

By storing glasses correctly and ensuring they are polished thoroughly, bartenders are giving the glasses a longer use time and helping to prevent them from being cracked or chipped.

Not only that but cleaning drinking glasses can help remove any rough spots or edges that could otherwise weaken the glass and cause it to break, which could be a disaster for the establishment.

That said, even with proper care at some point glasses will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, but polishing glasses is a great way to prolong their use.

To keep busy

Whilst polishing glasses has many benefits such as the ones discussed above, it’s also a great way for bartenders to keep busy and be productive.

Instead of standing around waiting to serve customers, many bartenders will choose to wash and polish glasses instead of standing around bored.

It also gives the bar a more professional look if the bartenders are polishing glasses and showing customers that this bar cares about cleanliness and experience.

Walking into a bar to find a team of bartenders all on their phones or standing around doing nothing doesn’t look great, therefore, cleaning glasses helps combat these even if the bartenders are not particularly busy.

>> Read more: Why do bartenders scratch empty bottles?

Why Do Bartenders Rinse Beer Glasses?

You may have noticed that bartenders will rinse beer glasses before pouring a pint and be wondering why they do this.

It’s common practice in many bars for bartenders to rinse beer glasses as it helps to remove any dirt, grime, or other contaminants that may have accumulated on the glass. This is especially important if the glass has been sitting unused for a period of time.

Another reason bartenders rinse beer glasses as it helps to remove any residual flavors or odors that might affect the taste of the beer.

If the glass was used previously to serve a cocktail it could have some residue left over which may make the beer look a strange color or give it a funky smell.

Rinsing beer glasses before serving beer is a way for bartenders to ensure that the glass is clean and any residues left over from cleaning the glass or previous drinks have been removed.

Do Bars Wash Their Glasses?

Bars and other establishments do wash their glasses after every use to maintain a high level of cleanliness and hygiene and stop the spread of germs and bacteria.

Most bars use a dishwasher to wash their glasses which uses hot water, detergent, and sometimes a sanitizing solution to ensure the glasses are squeaky clean.

Once the dishwasher has been completed, the bartender will clean and polish the glasses to dry them off and remove any water that may be left over on the glass to stop any marks or streaks from appearing.

why do bartenders always polish glasses
Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

Some bars may wash their glasses by hand, but this is a manual process that takes a lot longer than needed which is why most have a dishwasher instead.

Final Thoughts

I hope this post has helped provide clarity on the reasons why bartenders polish glasses and has given you an understanding of why it’s a crucial part of the bartender’s role.

So, why do bartenders always polish glasses?

In summary, washing glasses has many benefits which include ensuring the glass is clean and presentable, preventing the spread of germs and bacteria, as well as helping the glasses remain durable and strong.

But bartenders may also polish glasses for something to do if the bar is quiet and so they are not stood doing nothing behind the bar.

All bars and establishments should be washing their glasses after every use to ensure they maintain a high cleanliness standard, and they do this through the use of a dishwasher or manual work.

Next time you see a bartender polishing glasses you’ll understand why they are doing so and can inform your friends and family of the importance of this process.

Catch you in the next one!