Handle With Care
- Food is china's number one enemy.
- "The longer food sits on a plate, the more acid eats away at the glaze. If you don't plan on doing the dishes immediately, give your china a quick rinse to remove as much food as possible," Liam says. Also, it is best to rinse your dishware rather than let pieces sit too long in soapy water.
- "Always wash your china and crystal by hand. Use a mild detergent in warm water," Liam directs. "Remember, also, to place a rubber mat or a dish towel in the bottom of the sink." This protects china from chipping or breaking.
- After rinsing, drain dishes in a plastic or wooden drying rack. Wipe dry with a soft cloth, and put away.
Convenience May Not Be Best
- "If you insist on putting your china in the dishwasher, use a very mild detergent on a gentle cycle," Liam suggests. Don't overload the washer, and never use a lemon-scented detergent or one that contains bleach. These products contain acid that is harmful to the surfaces and finishes.
- Some of the newer patterns are considered dishwasher-safe. Older patterns (20 years or more), especially ones with gold or silver bands on the rim, should be washed by hand. The gold or silver might be able to take a few machine washings, but over time it will fade.
- Stack your plates no more than four high,
- Liam says. For protection, it is best to place a cushioned layer, such as a paper towel or a coffee filter, between each piece. For cups, stack them no more than two high. "Any higher can weaken the rim and cause cracking and chipping," Liam explains.
- Hanging your fine china on the wall is a great way to enjoy it all the time. If you plan on hanging plates, be sure to use hangers with clear plastic tubing over the wire ends to provide padding.
- China is made to use. Storing it in areas where temperature and humidity levels can't be controlled has an adverse effect. If you don't use your dishes often, it is a good idea to wash them at least once a year. This maintenance will keep impurities from damaging the glaze.
- What do you do with a broken plate? Send it to the experts who can seamlessly fix a chipped or cracked piece of crystal or china. The folks at Replacements, Ltd., specialize in determining if a piece should be repaired or replaced.
- Are the platinum or gold bands on your plates rubbing off? Replacements can reband the faded dishware.
- If sending your fine dishware out to be fixed is too much trouble, ask a local gift store if they know someone locally who can help. Bigger stores might also have a visiting expert who comes a couple times a year to repair broken pieces or to consult.
- Crystal also requires special handling. Most pieces are broken during cleaning or in storage. Here are a few tips to keep your collection clear and in one piece.
- Hand-washing with lukewarm water is recommended.
- Use a minimal amount of mild detergent. The more you use, the more residue will build up on the surface.
- Never twist from the stem. It can be quite fragile and will break easily.
- Adding vinegar to the rinse water will keep crystal spot free.
- Dry crystal immediately with a lint-free paper towel.
"Home Tips: China and Crystal Care" is from the November 2003 issue of Southern Living.