If you thought that you could only use your fine china on special occasions, think again. In fact, your fine tableware is meant to be used on a regular basis, not just on holidays or birthdays. Although it might be tempting to store it away, you might actually be doing more harm to it than good. That’s why you should learn the steps for caring for your fine china to increase its longevity and give it the proper usage in your home.
Whether you have formal or casual china, there are some general tips that apply to caring for china. Long-term storage in areas where temperature and humidity are not controlled, can have adverse effects on the glaze of china pieces, causing the glaze to become brittle and possibly crack. If you do not use your dinnerware for extended periods (i.e. a year or more,) take it out of storage at least once per year and wash it. This yearly maintenance will keep impurities from impregnating the glaze and will help keep the glaze strong. Avoid extreme heat, and don’t use tableware with metallic trims in the microwave.
Whether you have antique china that is a family heirloom or a more modern dishwasher safe variety, here are ways to care for your fine china that will let you enjoy it for a lifetime.
Caring for Antique China
With the proper care, antique china can last for decades. For starters, older china should always be hand washed and not put in a dishwasher. The prongs in the racks of many dishwashers may scratch the surface of china, and heat from the drying cycle can loosen trim, eventually causing it to wear away. Dishwasher detergents are sometimes harsh and are not recommended for washing antique china.
That doesn’t mean that you should scrub away at your antique china, either. If you’re going to hand wash your china, be sure to line the bottom of your sink with a dish towel or rubber mat. This offers additional protection to your plates and cups. Fill the sink with tepid to warm water and add a mild detergent. Be sure to avoid using products containing bleach or that are lemon-scented, since they contain acid that can be harmful to china surfaces and finishes. Wash one dish at a time and swing the spout away from the wash area (to prevent chipping or scratching). Above all, don’t use abrasive pads or steel wool to remove debris.
Caring for Dishwasher Safe China
Even if you have more modern china, it’s still recommended to hand wash. However if you must use a dishwasher, china that has been produced during the past twenty years generally holds up better in a dishwasher than patterns that are older–just be sure to set your dishwasher on a gentle cycle.
Placement is important when it comes to loading your dishes in the dishwasher. That’s why you’ll need to provide adequate space, so your pieces do not touch. This will prevent damage from pieces rubbing against each other during the washing process and will allow for better cleaning as water can reach all areas. Again, use a mild detergent that doesn’t contain bleach or lemon, and let the china cool to room temperature before removing. The reason: the trim will have been heated, and is more fragile during this part of the automatic dishwasher process.
Whether you have antique or dishwasher-friendly china, there are some simple storage tips that should be applied. For example, when stacking china for storage, place a cushioned layer between each piece for protection. Use a piece of flannel, a coffee filter, or a napkin between the pieces. Or you can purchase china cushions. Be careful not to slide pieces on top of one another, to avoid cracking or breakage. Next, stack cups no more than two high, or hang separately on a rack. Stacking cups can weaken the rim, and cause cracking or chipping. Avoid stacking pieces that have handles if possible, since it can cause your china to become unstable or possibly fall and break.
With the proper care, fine tableware can create memories and traditions that will last a lifetime.
Source: Used by Permission from Replacements, Inc, www.replacements.com
Photo Credit: Alden Parkes, Philip Gulotta Design, Replacements Ltd.