Many of those that own precious fine china have either made a substantial investment in their dinnerware, or they have inherited a priceless heirloom from generations before. Regardless of whether china was as a gift or purchased, it is not like all the other dinnerware in the kitchen. The cleaning and care of fine china is very important to ensuring that the dinnerware will last, keep its beautiful sheen, and remain unbroken, chipped, or cracked. Taking care of your china will assure that you can have an elegant table that welcomes both friends and family for many years. China is easily damaged when it is not handled, cleaned, or stored properly, so it is important to take care of the investment so it lasts for generations to come. This guide is designed to help you gather all the information necessary to keep the best china dishes looking like new.
For many, china is kept in storage for a majority of the year and brought out only for holidays or special occasions. China needs to be well protected while it is not being used. If china pieces are stored on top of one another, like casual dinnerware, they can become scratched easily just moving them in and out of a china cabinet. It is important to store each piece of china appropriately to avoid damage.
Plates can easily be stored with a simple piece of felt or fleece cut to fit between each plate if they must be stacked in a china cabinet or cupboard. Another option would be to use a china plate rack inside the cabinet, but it should have a little lip placed in front of the rack to avoid one good bump to the cabinet knocking them all over. A third option for plates would be placing them in boxes that will keep out dust and protect them when you take them in and out. Many prefer to display their plates in a lighted china cabinet or glass cupboard. Often, it is recommended to display a few pieces, but keep the majority safely packed away in boxes, which is typically safer than a display case.
Cups and Saucers
There are two ways to store china cups and saucers. First, cups can be placed on hooks. This is the safest way to prevent chipping, because they are easily kept separated. Some do not recommend this technique, because it lends itself to the chance of falling off the hook and breaking priceless cups. A second option is to store each cup on its saucer in a cupboard, china cabinet, or display case. Cups should never be stacked, even with felt. This is a risky way to store china cups because it is virtually impossible to prevent the cups from touching each other, which can lead to scratches or chipping. It would be better to show off one or two cup and saucer sets and put the rest wrapped up in boxes underneath the cabinet. Serving PiecesThings like gravy boats, sugar bowls, and tureens with handles are really easy to break but are often the most expensive pieces to replace. For this reason, it is best to store these fragile items in their original boxes and out of reach until use.
For china sets that only come out for special occasions or holidays, such as Thanksgiving china or Christmas china, consider storing all pieces wrapped and put in boxes. If each piece is wrapped, you should only have to rinse it clean before using it, which would have to be done if it sat in the hutch for months. If preferred, you can keep a few pieces out for display in a collection case, but the majority of rarely used china should be wrapped up in a box.
Cleaning china can be a delicate process, and should be completed carefully. When the meal is over and the kitchen is ready for cleanup, rinse china dishes of as soon as possible after eating so the food does not have time to stick, especially with foods such as spaghetti that are acidic. If necessary, use a rubber spatula to scrape food off of fine china dinnerware. Using silverware or a metal spatula can leave unsightly gray marks on china. Line the sink with a soft towel or rubber mat: the entire bottom and sides. This will prevent the china from receiving scratches and dings. Never stack china in the sink, and be sure to wash one piece at a time. This will prevent them from hitting one another. When washing, use warm water (not hot) with only mild detergents and a sponge or soft dish cloth; never use abrasive pads or detergents and dry everything with a soft towel immediately after washing.
Using the Dishwasher
Sometimes, it is safe to put fine china dinnerware into the dishwasher using the "light" or "china" settings with mild detergent. Never use the normal settings on a dishwasher because the extreme heat of the normal cycle may fade the gold or platinum bands and any colored decorations. When using a dishwasher, stack the dishes so none of the pieces can knock against each other, paying special attention to cup handles and other protruding decorations. Lastly, use the air-dry setting only to avoid exposing the fine dinnerware to high heat.
Common China Problems
Even with the utmost care used with fine china, accidents will happen. Two of the most common china problems are stains and surface cracks. This section will help users take care of these two china issues.
China can get fine lines the color of pencil lead from being rubbed against aluminum in dishwater. If this occurs, use a small dab of baking soda to gently rub away the stains. It is important to not scrub at stains too hard, as it could cause more damage than good. If baking soda does not work, cream of tartar on a damp sponge can be used. Some aluminum stains will not come out of fine china. Another type of common stain is stains from hard water or lime. These can often been removed by soaking the china in warm water with citrus rinds such as lemon, grapefruit, or orange. Soak the dishes overnight before washing as usual and drying immediately after washing.
Occasionally, users may notice fine, spidery surface cracks on the surface of the china. Please note that a surface crack is only the appearance of a fine line, not a full crack in the china. Placing the china in a pan of warm milk for around 30 minutes can repair these hairlines. If the cracks are only surface deep, they should vanish. If they do not vanish, chances are the crack goes deeper than eye level.
In Conclusion...Caring for fine china is not as difficult as you may think and with a bit of important information, it can be simple to use and care for your precious china. When china is not in use, display your collection with a high quality china cabinet that will offer the best protection and showcase your fine china collection beautifully. The lighting in the cabinet adds further enhancement, while being enclosed exposes your china to less dust and grime. It may be the best way to protect an investment and is recommended when your collection includes pricey antiques or precious family heirlooms. Armed with the necessary information to properly care for china, is it important that you not be afraid to use your fine china. Fine dinnerware is made to be enjoyed and then handed down to the next generation. With proper care and maintenance, china can be enjoyed for dozens, or even hundreds of years.