How to Clean Fine China

Stacked china tea cups.

Whether you use it only on holidays or for frequent dinner parties, fine china is a treasured heirloom that you likely hold close to your heart. Perhaps you received yours as a wedding gift or maybe it was passed down to you from an older generation. Regardless of how you received your china, though, there is likely one challenge that presents itself after each time you use yours: how to adequately clean it.

While these dishes can be a bit tricky to clean due to their fragile nature, there are a range of tips and tricks to doing this thoroughly and correctly. Read below to learn how to get your fine china spick and span and completely ready for its next use with no stress.

Giving Your China a Regular Cleaning

In between uses, you need to regularly wash your fine china to keep it squeaky clean. It’s also wise to take china out on a regular basis to clean it, even if it hasn’t been in use. This helps keep it clear of dust and in pristine condition, even over long periods of time.

Step 1 - Line Your Sink

It goes without saying that fine china shouldn’t be put through the dishwasher. Before you start washing your dishes, line your sink with a couple of thick dish towels. These will serve to cushion the china as it’s in your sink to ensure that no breakages occur. Since fine china is more fragile than everyday dishes, this is an important step.

Step 2 - Fill Your Sink

China with a gold rim.

Plug your sink and fill it with warm water, mixing in several drops of a mild liquid dish soap.

Step 3 - Wash the Dishes

Using a gentle cloth, wash your dishes and rinse them under cool water.

Step 4 - Dry Your Dishes

Gently place dishes on a drying rack and allow them to air dry for as long as needed.

Step 5 - Buff Your Dishes

A china plate.

Once dry, use a clean and dry dish towel to gently buff the dishes before putting them away.

Remove Stains from Fine China

When your china has attained stains, it requires more rigorous cleaning and you’ll have to use additional methods to make those pieces sparkle again. Use the methods outlined below to achieve the desired results.

Spot Clean with Milk

If you notice fork and knife scratches on your fine china, milk is helpful in removing them. Soak china that has attained these marks — which is normal after regular use — in a bucket or in the sink filled with whole milk. Leave the dishes for several hours, allowing the milk to steep deeply into the china. This allows the milk to naturally whiten the dark marks the repeated use of utensils on the plates have left.

Clean with Baking Soda

China with gold rims.

More recent stains on fine china can be removed with a paste of baking soda and water. In a cup, create this mixture and place it directly on the stain. Simply let the paste sit on the stain for about a half an hour. After that, gently scrub the area with a damp dishcloth. Wash the china as you normally would and allow it to dry completely. Repeat as needed until the stain is diminished.

Mix Salt and White Vinegar

Older stains may be a bit tougher to get off of fine china, but don’t fret — where there’s a will, there’s a way. Mix white vinegar and table salt together until they form a paste. Place this paste on the stain, leaving it there for at least an hour, if not more. Using a damp cloth, gently scrub the area until the paste is diminished. Hand wash the dishes and allow them to dry completely.

Fine china may seem intimidating to clean and maintain, but it’s actually not a daunting process at all. Use regular household items to complete routine cleaning as well as spot treatment to keep this special dish set looking like new.