How to Clean and Care for Antiques: Dinnerware and Glassware
When you’ve taken the time to choose beautiful antique pieces for your table, you want to be sure you’re caring for them properly so they give you years of joy. It’s a shame many antique dishes are kept behind glass instead of taking up their rightful place at the center of a home’s most convivial moments. You know how we feel about using the good china. You bought your antiques for a reason and you shouldn’t be afraid to use them. Below is the first in a series where we share our guide to cleaning and caring for your antiques.
Cleaning Antique Dinnerware
Let's face it, most of us can't live without the dishwasher. The mere mention of something being "hand wash only" feels like code for "more work for you to do." We all want to throw things in the dishwasher and be done right? You might assume antique tableware is not dishwasher-safe but that’s not always the case. The key question is whether the dish is glazed. The glaze protects the decoration and prevents it from being damaged. To check whether a piece is glazed, run your fingers over the surface. If it’s completely smooth and the surface is uniformly glossy, it’s glazed. Glazed pieces like our beautiful Villeroy & Boch Paysage dessert plates can go in the dishwasher on a gentle cycle. Be careful not to over-fill the dishwasher because this can lead to pieces becoming chipped during the cycle. Leave spaces between the dishes so that they don’t bump into each other.
If a dish is not glazed or has a metallic trim, like these antique gold and white plates from our rental collection, it should always be hand washed. Use a plastic washing up bowl or place a rubber mat or folded tea towel in the bottom of the sink to protect the dishes. Mild detergents and a soft dishcloth should be enough to do the job. Never use bleach as it will cause your dish to yellow over time.
At the end of the evening, it may be tempting to leave your dirty dishes and deal with them in the morning but, no matter how tired you are, it’s best to wash and dry them before you go to bed. Leaving them until the morning will make them harder to clean and could result in stains that are hard to shift.
Storing Antique Dinnerware
If you stack your plates in between use, it’s a good idea to place a napkin or a sheet of kitchen paper in between each one to prevent them scratching. Stack larger pieces at the bottom and smaller ones on top, and make sure that you don’t stack them too high. When you take them out, always lift and never slide or you risk scratching the surface.
Wherever you keep your plates and dishes, they need to be easily accessible or you may find it too much trouble to take them out and enjoy them.
Cleaning Antique Glassware
Antique crystal or glassware is rather durable considering some of it has been around and in use as long as it has. When you find 19th or early 20th century champagne coupes and wine glasses, drinking your favorite wine or bubbly from them feels so chic and incomparable to mass manufactured glassware. These beauties will continue to last but will need a little extra love.
There are some sites out there which recommend washing in a plastic washing up bowl as opposed to in the sink. This is probably a good idea, but we have honestly never done it. We do, however, recommend you simply hand wash in warm soapy water, rinse, dry and put away immediately. Putting crystal antique glasses in the dishwasher exposes them to extreme temperatures which equals the potential death of your beloved antique treasure.
And what about carafes with residue or hard to reach areas? There are a few options. You can fill half way with warm soapy water and add vinegar or a denture cleaning tablet to remove the deposits. With the denture tablet, be sure to leave it for an hour so it can work it’s magic, then rinse well. An alternative option (which we use at Madame de la Maison often) is to fill the carafe with warm soapy water then drop in silver carafe cleaning beads, swirl them around, pour out into a colander then rinse with hot water. To dry carafes we turn them upside down on a carafe/decanter drying stand. (And the great thing about owning a stand is that you will quickly find many uses for it in your kitchen.)
Storing Antique Glassware
You should keep in mind the thinner the glass, the more delicate it is, so don’t stack your glasses or store them upside down. them upside down.
We hope these tips help you continue to enjoy shopping for antiques and finding sustainable ways to gather beautifully.
Want to learn how to care for your antique silver? We have all the tips for you in this blog post.