The lovely antique china tableware that has been passed down through the generations should be taken out of the china cabinet and used for special occasions. But the thoughts of washing antique china and otherwise caring for the delicate heirlooms can be intimidating. These step by step instructions will enable you to use, wash and care for antique china with confidence.
Don’t Stack Dirty China
After a meal, avoid stacking dirty china plates and bowls as the table is being cleared, as stacking dirty china can lead to scratches and cracks. Rinse antique china as soon as possible after a meal to prevent food particles from adhering to or damaging the china. If acidic foods, such as vinaigrettes or fruits, were served, the longer the acidic residue remains on the antique china, the greater risk that the acid will damage the color and/or glaze on the china and coffee or tea served in antique china cups will stain the china cup’s interior if beverage is allowed to sit in the cup too long.
When food particles are stuck to antique china plates, do not attempt to scrap them off with metal flatware. Flatware is abrasive and will scratch china, use a rubber tipped spatula or dish cloth to remove food debris. If food is stuck on, place china in a sink of warm water to soak until food debris is loosened.
Hand Wash Antique China
Antique china is not dishwasher safe and must be hand washed. Prepare the sink by placing a kitchen towel in the sink bottom before running water and place towels on countertop surrounding the kitchen sink. The towels will help prevent china from coming into contact with hard surfaces and causing a chip.
Fill the kitchen sink with warm water and mild dish soap. Hand wash each piece of china separately, using a soft sponge and gentle touch. Place only a few china pieces at a time in the dish drying rack and do not allow the antique china pieces to touch each other.
Dry and Store Antique China
Washing and drying antique china in small batches, thoroughly dry each piece of china with a soft towel. Stack china plates, saucers and bowls with a cushioning material between each piece. Sheets of paper towels, coffee filters, felt or foam will separate and cushion each piece of china, just ensure that cushioning material is the same size as the china piece.
Store antique china in stacks no higher than eight pieces and store china cups sitting upright, in a single layer, on a shelf. Hanging antique china cups on cup hangers will scratch, discolor and possibly chip cup handles.