How to Take Care of China, Crystal and Cut Glass
Perhaps unexpectedly, the very finest looking china may be the hardiest and easiest to clean. Bone china does indeed include bone material, and is also fired at exceptionally high temperature. Both facts add to its durability.
Plates with a thick glaze can be scratched by metal knives and forks, and also by metal pan scourers should you resort to this as a cleaner for burnt-on food. Dishwashers speed up the ageing process in plates. Over time you see the pattern fade, but you don’t see that the strength of the plate is also taking a regular pounding.
Use your thumb and index finger to give bone china and porcelain a gentle ping. If a dull sound comes back, there’s a crack that you need to find before you go any further. Glue may be all that’s holding the item together and cleaning could wash this away.
Be sensible and use both hands to move china objects and ornaments. Work at a table after giving it a soft surface by laying a bath-towel on top. If you’ve already checked against cracks and other vulnerable areas and are feeling brave enough to immerse your ornament in water, use a plastic bowl to eliminate risk of banging against the sides.
To clean antique china ornaments, use cotton buds dipped in a mild soapy solution to dab away at dirt. Thoroughly air-dry in a non-dusty place.
To ensure that your quality china has a long life, stack and store it with care. Check for grit between plates before stacking and stick to small piles – certainly no more than eight.
Wash crystal and cut glass
Line the sink with a tea towel so that glass won’t smash against a solid sink.
Somehow, accidents always happen when you’re rushed and a favourite disaster is banging a glass on the tap. So move the spout to one side after you fill the sink.
Using soapy water, wash each item with care. A handled scrubbing brush gives more precision than a sponge or dishcloth. After you remove all the dirt and dust, rinse in very hot water, taking care not to crowd the sink. Heat makes the glass dry faster, which minimises the time for streaks to appear, so wear gloves to protect your hands.
A neat trick to give sparkle to party glasses that are clean but have been in the cupboard some time is to dunk them in a basin of hot water to which a teaspoon of washing soda or a tablespoon of white vinegar per half litre (one pint) of water has been added. This works for cut-glass wine carafes, too.
When you’re ready to put away the glasses always store them on their rims and never stack.
Tend to vases and decanters
Narrow necks can make it tricky to get down to the bottom with your cleaning cloth. If even a bottle-brush won’t get there, fizz a soluble aspirin tablet or denture-cleaning tablet into the bottom of a mucky flower vase. Leave overnight and rinse clean for a spotless vase.
Pour a handful of uncooked rice grains into an empty decanter and swill the grains around to remove port and brandy stains. If your decanter can’t safely stand on its head, turn a large saucepan into a drying rack. Simply crumple a tea towel into the base of the saucepan and rest the decanter against the side of the pan.