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How to Clean Fine China in a Dishwasher: Everything You Need to Know

by Reyna Thomas

If you've inherited your grandmother's fine china set or splurged on a beautiful new set, you might be wondering how to care for them. With a few simple tips, you can rest assured that your delicate dishes will come out sparkling clean. Read on to find out how to keep your china looking good as new.

vintage tea cups

How To Wash China in the Dishwasher

The holiday season is upon us, and you want to use your lovely china set. But can it tolerate being put in the dishwasher? It depends on a few different factors.

First, look at the tableware's bottom. Usually, it will state if the china is dishwasher-safe or not. Assuming it doesn't, look up more information on the manufacturer's website or the china set box (if you still have it).

There may not be a label on the bottom of older china, but that's good because antique china won't hold up in the dishwasher. Never put china in the dishwasher if it is more than 15-20 years old. Zero exceptions. Instead, it needs to be hand-washed. Thankfully, newer china is stronger and typically dishwasher-safe. You should be able to put your china in the dishwasher if it is either brand new or between 10-15 years old, but you should always consult the manufacturer’s guide.

dishwasher filled with China

Metal Trim

Fine china with metal trimming and designs (such as gold or silver) or hand-painted china should never go in the dishwasher. Ever, even if the china is relatively new. The heat from the dishwasher may tarnish or remove the metal detailing. Instead, hand-wash them in lukewarm water with a very gentle soap. In addition, you should avoid abrasive scrub pads, which can also damage or inadvertently remove the trim or add scratches to delicate hand-painted designs.

Using the Dishwasher

You can take a few extra steps to ensure your fine china survives a pass in the dishwasher if it is able to do so.

Space pieces far enough apart that they do not touch one another to prevent scratching. Choose the delicate cycle or the gentlest cycle possible on your dishwasher. Select a water temperature setting below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, as too hot of a water setting can damage your china. If you are unsure how hot your dishwasher gets on each cycle, consult the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website for its temperature ranges. And only use a gentle liquid detergent with no bleach or lemon ingredients because these could also damage your fine tableware. Once done, allow the dishware to cool to room temperature before handling it, as trim and detailing become more fragile when hot.

How Often Should Fine China Be Cleaned?

When food particles remain on china from improper cleaning, the result can be long-term damage. Rinse the dishes with warm water if you can't wash them immediately to eliminate food particles.

stack of vintage floral plates with silverware

Additionally, you should avoid soaking fine China in warm water for an extended time because it could weaken the china. Instead, try to make a commitment to clean your fine china after each use as soon as possible. By doing this, you can be confident that the tableware will stay undamaged and food particles can be readily removed.

Maintaining Its Cleanliness

Even if you have washed the china, dirt and grime can quickly accumulate on its surface if you do not properly store it.

When not in use, keep your fine china stored in a closed cabinet or cupboard to prevent dust buildup. If you must stack the China, use felt pads or other soft materials in between each piece to prevent scratching. Inspect each piece of China before storing it to ensure it is clean and free of food particles or drink stains.

china in a wood cabinet

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your fine china will stay looking like new for years to come. Now, many newer dishwasher models have a fine china setting to make your life easier. If you’re planning on making use of your china during the holidays, get a dishwasher that can help clean them for you. And Elders Appliance has a great selection of top dishwasher brands you can choose from! If you need help finding a dishwasher that ticks all your boxes, just call us, and our experts will help you choose precisely what you need.