How to Keep Your Coaster or Napkin from Sticking to Your Glass

Accidentally flinging a ceramic coaster to the floor is one of those aggravations we've all experienced, but have you ever considered...there could be a solution?

Winter, summer, or spring, there are very few moments when I don't have a cold drink nearby. And in the summer, rarer still are the moments when having a cold drink nearby doesn't lead to a coaster sticking to my glass and subsequently flinging itself to the floor. Condensation is a cruel mistress at the best of times, but for those who are trying to stay hydrated while also keeping rings off their furniture, it can be a particularly fickle sipping companion.

If a sticky coaster situation has you about ready to chuck your glass, then we have good news. There might not be a foolproof way to beat the coaster-sticking phenomenon, but there are ways to minimize the chance that your glass will get suctioned to its resting place. To help you out with the eternal sticky coaster problem, we've put together a guide applicable to any situation, whether that's using a napkin at a bar or restaurant, or trying to pick the best coasters from your home. So if you're looking for a way to undercut the coaster chaos in your life, read on.

glass of lemon ice tea on coaster
ojogabonitoo/Getty Images

Why do coasters and napkins stick to our cups in the first place?

Before we get into talking about how to prevent coasters from sticking, we first should try to understand why they stick in the first place. Essentially, it's the same force that causes a stack of not-entirely-dry glasses to get stuck together: moist, smooth surfaces stacked on top of other smooth surfaces can create a vacuum seal that causes the coaster to get picked up with the cup. Once the cup is lifted, some condensation is able to trickle down to the coaster and break the seal, which is why your coaster hurls itself to the floor at inconvenient times if you don't prevent the process. This is also why the age-old trick of sprinkling salt on napkins or other coaster-like surfaces works: the salt prevents the glass and coaster from making a moistened vacuum, which means it never sticks in the first place.

But salt isn't the only way to break a coaster's seal. Besides, most folks would probably rather avoid sprinkling salt all over their furniture. So let's take a look at some non-seasoning related ways to solve the issue at hand.

Are there any materials that are less prone to sticking?

One way to cut down on coaster clinginess in your home is to change up the type of coasters or glasses you use, if not both. As mentioned above, smooth surfaces are the most likely to lead to clinging, so coasters with some amount of texture work nicely. Certain absorbent coasters, like stone-based or knitted ones, can also help greatly in this endeavor.

Stone Quartz Coasters Set (4)

stone quartz coasters set
West Elm

Chunky Knit Coaster Set (4)

Chunky Knit Coasters

Naturally, there are plenty of beautiful glass, resin, or plastic coasters, so if you opt for one of those kinds, you'll want to find alternate methods for keeping your glass and coaster separated. But if aesthetic is more important to you than coaster convenience, then go ahead and buy the coasters you like the look of the most, even if they're not particularly absorbent. There are other options for preventing the stick.

What about excess condensation?

As you might have noticed from our recommending absorbent coasters, wicking up moisture is an important component of preventing coasters from crashing to the ground. So while removing moisture from the air isn't a surefire way to deter sticking, it is at least a good way to lower your chances. If you have a dehumidifier in your home, that will help you keep excess water vapor from gathering around your glass. But if you don't have access to a dehumidifier or need higher humidity in your home, using one of the other tips in this guide will probably be a better bet.

How to Prevent Sticking at Home

Although the above steps should help keep your coaster and your glass separate, there's always the possibility that the vacuum effect will beat out your attempts to thwart it. So if you're still having trouble with your coasters, there is one final method you can use to keep your space mess-free. Before you pick up your cup, try putting your pinky on the coaster and lifting the glass up at a slight angle. The pressure from your finger combined with gently breaking the seal should keep you from flinging the coaster once more to the floor. Granted, it's an action you'll have to get into the habit of doing for it to work, but it will do the trick and you won't need to buy anything to use it.

How to Prevent Sticking When You're Out and About

Of course, if you're out at a restaurant or an event like a wedding, you might not be working with more than a napkin or temporary coaster, instead of the kind you're used to at home. In those cases, the salt trick mentioned above works excellently. Sand can also work if you're in a pinch — basically anything that will give you a bit of a textural barrier between the condensating cup and your "coaster."

Coaster sticking may be an evergreen problem for drink fiends, but by using a combination of these methods, you can defeat the vacuum curse that overcomes cups and have a more pleasurable hydration experience.

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