Caring for fine china dinnerware can assure that it holds up and stays beautiful for years to come.
The main problems that affect dinnerware are scratches, chips, deterioration of the glaze or trim, and of course shattering. The china itself is pretty tough, but it does need to be handled with care, used and stored properly and washed with a few tips in mind.
Modern dinnerware may say that it is microwave safe dinnerware; however, I would not recommend using any type of china in the microwave or placing it in the oven. Exposure to extreme heat can cause the glaze of the dinnerware to crack and become brittle.
Antique china dinnerware may be more fragile that modern dinnerware sets. A china pattern with metal trim, (gold, silver or platinum) should never be placed in the microwave.
If you will be serving hot food on china, it is best to run warm water over it just before setting the table to avoid drastic changes in heat.
When using fine china, food should be removed from the dishes immediately after the meal.
Do not use metal silverware to scrape the dishes. This can cause scratches.
Using a rubber spatula is a better idea. Getting the food off of the dishes and rinsing them immediately will help you to avoid soaking the dishes to loosen up dried food and it will prevent staining.
The dishes should not be stacked while waiting to be washed. Stacking can cause scratches.
Some china may be claimed to be dishwasher safe; however, I recommend washing it by hand. It is a good idea to line the sink with a rubber mat in order to protect the dishes during washing. Also, avoid hitting the dishes on the water spout. That's the number one way that I have chipped china.
You should use mild detergent, warm water and a soft sponge or cloth. Hot water is a no-no along with lemon scented detergent and dish soap with bleach. Never use harsh detergents or abrasive cleaning pads. Air drying can cause spots, so it is best to hand-dry your china.
If your china stains, don't think that it is ruined. Toothpaste or baking soda is wonderful for cleaning stains off of china. You simply take a little bit and rub in on with a soft cloth and then rinse the dinnerware. A one to three solution of hydrogen peroxide and water can be used for cleaning tea and coffee cups to prevent staining. After washing it, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water.
When fine cracks start to appear in the surface of fine china, it is possible to make them disappear. Believe it or not, soaking your china in milk for 20 to 30 minutes can make it look as good as new. This doesn't always work, especially with antique china, but it is well worth a try.
If you have room, it is best to store your china in a china cabinet where it does not have to be stacked. However, if you have to stack the dishes, place some type of cushion between each piece to prevent scratching and provide protection. China cushions are available, but you can use flannel or felt pieces, soft towels, or napkins. Even a coffee filter will help.
Storage places should be temperature controlled. Exposure to drastic temperature changes, humidity and extreme heat can damage the dishes and cause cracking. It is best to keep fine china in the house. Attics, basements and storage rooms can be the enemy of your dishes.