Cleaning Fine China

by Julia Woodbury
(last updated December 10, 2018)

Most china manufacturers provide cleaning instructions with their china. If you have recently bought a set of china, you should be able to find these instructions with the packaging. Also, simple cleaning guidelines can usually be found on the back of your china plates. Be sure to follow the tips provided by your specific manufacturer because their type of china may differ slightly from most fine chinas and will need more specific care.

In general, fine china is dishwasher safe. Here are some things to consider if you decide to use a dishwasher:

  • Because fine china is so hard, its only threat is itself. When you load your china into the dishwasher, make sure that the pieces won't be able to bump against each other, especially as the water spraying in the dishwasher pushes them around. A loosely placed china plate might shift during the wash cycle, clank against another plate, and cause chipping.
  • Use a trusted, nonabrasive brand of dishwasher soap. Powder or liquid soaps are both acceptable, but if you want to be especially careful with your china, use a liquid soap; powders run the risk of being too grainy and abrasive.
  • If your dishwasher has different wash options, use the shortest, gentlest wash. You don't want your china to get too hot during the wash or drying cycle. To prevent water deposits from forming on your china, stop the washer before it has finished the drying cycle and towel-dry your china.

Hand washing is another option for cleaning your china. Here are some tips for properly handling and cleaning your china without a dishwasher:

  • Use your bare hands. Remove rings or other items that could scratch or chip your china.
  • Gentle cleaning tools, like sponges or plastic scrubbing brushes, should be used on your china rather than metal wool or abrasive scrubbers.
  • Handling too many pieces of fine china could lead to accidents. Stacking all your china in the sink will allow the pieces to scratch and chip each other. Wash each piece individually.
  • Use regular liquid dish soap and warm water to wash your china.
  • Stains from coffee and tea can be cleaned with borax or a gentle scrubbing agent like Bon Ami. Sometimes metal cutlery leaves behind light grey lines of metal residue. You can remove these with Bon Ami or with toothpaste. If water deposits do form on your china, they can be removed using a diluted acid, like vinegar.

In all cases, whether you are washing by hand or using a dishwasher, be sure that you don't expose your dishes to sudden changes in temperature, otherwise your china may crack or break. For example, a cup filled with ice should not be dipped into hot water and a plate with hot food on it should not be put directly into the freezer.

If your fine china has a metal rim (silver or gold), don't let it get too hot in the washing process, and don't handle it before it is cooled. High temperatures may soften the rim; handling it while it is hot could lead to warping or fingerprints in the metal.

As a general rule, wash your china as soon as possible, especially if you have used it for coffee, tea, or acidic foods that could stain the china.

Author Bio

Julia Woodbury

Julia Woodbury is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University. She delights in the written word and has interests in magazine writing and editing. ...

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