Information for publicans and bar staff

Handling and use

Handling and use is the single most important factor affecting the performance and behaviour of most types of drinking vessel. All materials degrade in use but the reason depends on the material. This deterioration affects breakage and the potential to cause injury.


  • New drinking vessels are often covered in residues from the manufacturing process.  In the case of glass if the vessels do not rinse freely then residues have to be removed by routine cleaning treatments. The following is a simple test to see if this is required:

    Glass washing diagramGlass washing diagram

    To remove residues 'renovation' treatment is often carried out using commercially available glass restorers. Renovation treatment should not be used indiscriminately as continuous use can result in surface damage.

  • Heavy and/or improper use and care can result in scratches and abrasions that dramatically lower the life-expectancy regardless of material or manufacture.  Very small nicks and scratches that are not easily visible can damage the vessel.

A quick guide to reducing scratching or stress damage

  • In the case of glass, never pick up vessels in bouquets, don't stack them or put flatware such as cutlery into glasses, always let glassware reach room temperature before washing, avoid contact with beer taps, avoid rattling together on shelves, and do not use as containers for other materials.  To a lesser extent this is also true for drinking vessels made from other materials.

  • As well as mechanical damage, further degradation of drinking vessels comes from aggressive industrial dish washer systems where temperature changes and chemical attacks decrease the lifespan. This is particularly true of some plastics, although glass can be affected by dishwashing solutions after prolonged exposure. Usually at this stage the glass is deemed unacceptable for use due to a cloudy appearance and is discarded.

  • Most plastic glass materials are severely affected by industrial dishwashing. Some, such as acrylics, are not suitable for dishwashing. Other plastics under consideration include polycarbonates and copolyester (such as Eastman Tritan). While polycarbonate is generally known as a tough material it may be susceptible to attack in a dishwashing environment, resulting in cracks in the base of polycarbonate glasses. These can form after as few as 10 dishwashing cycles.

  • The presence of these cracks leads to structural weakness and can result in brittle failure producing sharp edges. By contrast, new copolyester materials have shown resistance to this type of attack. Similarly new polycarbonate grades are under development to overcome this drawback.

  • It is imperative that data relating to any potential problems relating to dishwashing is available to the user. Supporting information may be derived from a variety of sources. In the case of publicans this may be from a trade association such as the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) or others.


Interventions in the alcohol server setting for preventing injuries, a study indicating that there is no reliable evidence that interventions in the alcohol server setting are effective in reducing injury.