How To Wash & Care For Fine China Dishes
Hairline Crack Repair:
- Soak the china in warm milk overnight. Gently hand wash in warm water with mild dish detergent.
Grey or Black Cutlery Markings:
- Dab a damp sponge in baking soda and rub the marks gently. You could also try regular toothpaste.
- Mix 50/50 table salt and household vinegar. Allow to soak for a bit before washing.
- Mix a paste of baking soda and water, apply to stain and gently rub. Wash.
Extreme Stain Removal
Peroxide is recommended again and again by the pros. Here are some good clips I found explaining the process–depending on the damage this could take weeks:
*Found on the eBay Forums
I use 30 or 40% volume cream peroxide from the Beauty Supply Store ~ costs about $3-$4 for a large bottle. I immerse small items, as it doesn’t seem to hurt the transfer, or on larger ones, I just ‘baste’ for a few days and it comes right out. Be sure to soak it in water for quite a bit, after the stain has lifted and you have washed the peroxide off ~ just to be sure that none remains or gets under the glaze if there is crazing. It has worked for me over and over again, with no adverse results!
I run the china under hot water then put some cream peroxide with a teaspoon of ammonia right Inside the bowl than spread around and put in a plastic bag and seal. You can make sure the peroxide covers the piece by smearing around with your hand on the outside of the plastic. This should take about a day to remove the stain.
Or, just put the bowl in any large container full of peroxide and tad of Ammonia and let is soak.
- Wash the dishes shortly after the meal, do not allow to sit dirty (especially overnight).
- Place a thick towel on the bottom of kitchen sink and fill with warm water, add mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Push tap aside so that there is no chance of bumping it against a dish. Remove all jewelry on your hands to prevent damage to the china.
- Wash one item at a time. Clean with a sponge or cloth only, do not use anything abrasive.
- For tough spots, drizzle a bit of the liquid dish detergent on the sponge and scrub gently. You can also try a little bit of baking soda on the sponge.
Soap: Use Ivory or Dawn or a similar *mild* liquid dishwashing detergent.
Use Bleach? No because it can cause irreparable damage to the glaze.
Can you wash fine china in the dishwasher? Generally no, the heat is too high and the detergents too abrasive. If the china was manufactured within the past 30 years or so, and is specifically stated to be dishwasher safe by the manufacturer, it’s alright to use the dishwasher.
Drying: Air dry then give a finishing rub down with soft, clean towels. You could also towel dry, make sure the towels are soft and clean.
Storing: Place cloth napkins, paper towels or doilies between each stacked dish to prevent scratching or damage. Do not stack or hang teacups. If china is used less than once a year, do an annual washing and cleaning to help preserve the glaze and paint.
Help! Fine China Cracks When Pouring Tea
Sharon emailed me with this question and I have a couple tips for this problem, but if you know of any more–please share them!
And PS: Do you put milk in first before pouring tea or do you do so last? I had no idea there was such a debate about it!
I have an extremely sentimental set of bone china.
Recently, I made my self a hot cup of tea. The cup “cracked” loudly and split in half.
Is there a way to enjoy my beautiful china without having the cups break when pouring hot liquids?
I am heartbroken. My Mother gave me this set and she is gone now.
Sharon gave me permission to publish her question on Tipnut, thanks Sharon!
Here’s some info I have:
- Pouring milk or cream into the teacup first helps moderate the heat of the tea as it’s being poured into the teacup. This is what I grew up with and I also prefer the taste of the milk being “scalded”–but–there’s some dispute how “proper” this is (see notes below).
- If you’re a tea drinker who doesn’t enjoy milk or cream with your cuppa, another method is to put your teaspoon into the cup and then pour the hot tea over the spoon–this helps moderate the heat as well.
I decided to do a little investigating and found a page on Canada’s Globe and Mail website (page is no longer active), quite a debate going! A few quotes:
I have found in my research that the milk went in first to save the fine china from cracking with the heat of the tea alone. Pouring the hot tea on a spoon in the cup should accomplish this too.
And another note:
Growing up in England, I was taught to put the milk into the teacup before the tea. This was so that the fine bone china would not be cracked or stained by the hot tea. Since English homes were kept cooler in the past, the cups were likely to be cool too. If you didn’t put the milk in first, you were supposed to stand a silver spoon in the cup while you were pouring the tea to diffuse the heat. Today the houses are warmer, as are the cups, and it makes more sense to put the milk in after the tea so that you get just the right balance of tea and milk. Even the queen does it this way today.
And one more quote:
There are often two reasons given for putting the milk in first. One is that if a smaller quantity of milk is poured into the much larger and much hotter volume of tea, it will be scalded, or “cooked,” and this will affect the taste. However, I have never been able to see such a difference myself. The second reason given is that fine china can be cracked if very hot liquid is poured into it. The cold milk at the bottom will moderate the thermal shock. As we tend to drink tea in mugs, a la George Orwell, this is not a consideration!
When using regular every-day teacups, pouring milk in first or last is by personal preference since the pottery or glass will probably not be so delicate and hold up just fine, but if you’re trying to protect your pieces of old fine china, I think milk should definitely be poured first.
Any thoughts or more tips? The temptation may be to pack away the china and admire the pieces from afar, but when they’re sentimental (like in Sharon’s case), it really would be nice to actually use them and enjoy the memories that they bring.