10-Minute Tutorial: Uncovering Glass Ornaments You Didn’t Know You Had

After doing my Halloween ornament tutorial earlier this month, I have become mildly obsessed with glass ornaments.  (So shiny!  So pretty!  SO CRAFTABLE!)  This holiday season, I want to have oodles of them to decorate, but I don’t want to spend oodles of dollars buying them.   Just yesterday, I stumbled on such a cheap, quick, easy solution that I had to share.  You know those shiny glass ball ornaments we all have with the super-reflective silver insides?




Those are just glass ornaments in disguise, and in 10 minutes or less, you can strip them naked!  Holy ornament glee!  Best of all, you don’t even need to go buy some icky, oogie chemical that will burn a hole in your brain.  Just grab that jug of white vinegar you already have in the pantry, and let’s go!



1.  Grab an old bowl.  Pour enough vinegar inside so that you can fully submerge your ornaments.


2.  Submerge your ornaments, letting them fill with vinegar so they’ll stay down.



3.  If you have a minute to wait, wait, because the paint will start coming loose almost immediately, and that’s exciting!   If it doesn’t come off in flakes like you see above, it will peel off in long, lovely strips.  (So.  Fun.  To peel.)


4.  After the paint on the outside comes off, the only thing you’ll see is the silver paint from the inside, making it look like you have a silver ball.



Resubmerge the ornament in the vinegar and give it a couple more minutes to soak.


5.  Pick up the ornament and dump a bit of the vinegar out.  Put your thumb over the hole and shake the ornament.  Shake it lots.  Shake it vigorously.  Hold it up in the air and shake it like you just don’t care.  After (say) 30 seconds, it should start to look like a snow globe with fat hunks of glitter.



If you’re shaking and baking and nothing is happening, go to your desk and get a paper clip.  Unbend it, then stick it inside the ornament and scrape a couple of narrow clean strips.  Resume shaking.  The clean strips will give the vinegar a way in, and you should be in business.


6.  Depending on the age of your ornaments, 90-120 seconds of shaking may remove all (yay!) or most (boo) of the silver paint.  Note the difference here between the red ornament, which was made in the last 15 years, and this larger older ornament.




To remove those last bits of silver, leave a bit of vinegar in the ornament and use a paper clip on the wet glass.


7.  When the ornament is clean, rinse it with water, both inside and out, then turn it upside down to let it dry.  If possible, perch it where some air can still get in so it can breathe.


Now, just by following those easy steps, you can give yourself as many glass ornaments as you like – and feel good about the fact that you are re-using old ornaments that probably weren’t getting a lot of play on your tree anyway!  If you got rid of all of your shiny glass ball ornaments, hop over to your nearest Goodwill, Salvation Army, or local charity shop.  They have loads.


If you’re not sure what to do with glass ornaments, here’s a suggestion:




If you like that look, hop right over here for the tutorial!



  1. Launi

    I used to clean out old scratched up ornaments by soaking them in the sink with Clorox water for awhile. Then rinse well (don't cut yourself on edges).

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