coming. Is your dinnerware ready?
Thanksgiving in sight and the Christmas season hot on
its heels, now is a good time to take stock of your fine
dinnerware and make sure itís looking its best for the
entertaining opportunities ahead.
crystal and silver deserve careful handling, so we
turned to the experts at Replacements Ltd. for advice on
cleaning and caring for them. The North Carolina company
is known for selling individual pieces to replace
missing or damaged dinnerware, and it also restores and
repairs precious pieces.
what its experts advised.
heat and harsh detergents can damage fine china,
especially antique pieces. Thatís why Sara Vestal, the
companyís lead supervisor of china and crystal
restoration, recommends always hand washing china,
regardless of whether itís considered dishwasher safe.
the bottom of your sink with a dish towel or rubber mat
for cushioning, and use a mild dishwashing liquid. Avoid
anything with lemon, orange or any other type of acid,
as well as dishwashing liquid that contains chlorine
bleach. Acids wear the finish, and chlorine leaves
behind a residue that breaks down china at a molecular
level, Vestal said.
might not see the damage that day. You might not see it
for a while," she said. But eventually ó and
unfortunately ó you will.
china in water thatís tepid or warm. Vestal said water
thatís too hot or cold can cause small cracks.
you still insist on using a dishwasher to clean
dishwasher-safe china, use the gentle cycle and turn off
the heated drying cycle, she said. Use a mild detergent
(no lemon-scented products), and load the dishwasher
carefully so the pieces wonít touch during the wash
cycle. Let the china cool to room temperature before
removing it to avoid damaging metallic trim, which is
more fragile when itís heated.
china in an area that has the same temperature and
humidity conditions as the living areas of your home,
not in an attic or basement. Extreme changes in heat and
humidity can cause crazing, or fine cracks in the glaze.
you stack pieces, add cushioning in between. You can buy
china cushions, or use pieces of flannel, coffee filters
or napkins. Be careful not to slide pieces on top of one
stacking pieces that have handles. Hang cups on a rack,
or stack them no more than two high. Stacking cups
weakens the rim, causing cracking or chipping.
of us store away our silver and silver-plated flatware
for most of the year and take it out only for the most
special of occasions.
Richmond has a different idea.
your silver, said Richmond, who manages silver
fulfillment operations at Replacements Ltd. Silver
develops a patina with handling and use, which improves
its appearance and gives it character, he said. That
patina actually comes from tiny scratches in the surface
that create a soft finish.
addition, exposure to air causes oxidation, which
produces a desirable darkening in the little crevices of
the pattern. That darkening makes the design stand out
more, Richmond said.
you do use your silver, wash it immediately after use,
and wash it well, he said. Itís particularly important
to remove salt and citrus, which can damage silverware
ó especially silver plate, because it has just a thin
layer of silver over a metal base. Mayonnaise, vinegar
and eggs can also be problematic.
let silver soak in water for a long time, he cautioned.
The water is corrosive and can also loosen the glue used
to attach handles.
recommended hand washing, because the heat of a
dishwasher can damage the silver over time and loosen
glue. And as with china, avoid detergents with citrus.
The invisible residue they leave can cause rust, he
a soft cloth to wash the silver and dry it immediately
with another soft cloth to prevent water spots.
youíre storing silver long-term, use felt bags or a
silver chest with a tarnish-resistant lining. Donít
store silver in airtight containers.
polish silver, the company recommends starting by
dusting with a lint-free cloth or soft toothbrush, and
then washing. Dry each piece thoroughly, and use a blow
dryer on a low setting to dry hard-to-reach places.
a top-quality silver polish in a gentle, circular
motion, and let the pieces sit according to the polish
instructions before removing the polish with a lint-free
cloth. Wash and dry each piece thoroughly to remove any
is the enemy of glassware. Sometimes itís caused by
mineral deposits from water and can be removed. But
sometimes itís caused by the heat of the dishwasher
baking those minerals into the pores of the glass, and
that may be permanent.
guard against etching your crystal, wash it by hand in
lukewarm water using a mild, nonabrasive detergent ó
the less the better, since excess detergent can leave a
film. Donít use abrasive pads.
a cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water to
reduce spots, Vestal suggested. Dry immediately with a
paper towel or a lint-free cloth. And while youíre
drying, avoid twisting the glass as you hold the base.
That could break the delicate stem.
said you can try cleaning cloudy crystal by filling the
glass or container with distilled white vinegar and a
little bit of rice and shaking. Or, if you want to treat
the cloudiness a little more aggressively, you can use
the cleaner CLR, she said. Donít use the cleaner on
crystal with metallic trim, however.
crystal right side up to avoid chipping the delicate
rims. Give it plenty of space to allow the glass to
expand in the heat without touching other pieces.