How to Care for Your Tableware! – A Guest Post!

I learned a valuable lesson when I was very young: if you put mom’s fine china into the microwave, it would start a fire.

No need to ask me HOW I know that, I just know. We’ll leave it at that. (Hint: it has something to do with the real gold rim around the edges of the dishes)

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Especially since I now have all of that china in my own possession, I have remembered to NOT place it in the microwave. After it’s used, I wash it. It’s stored in my china cabinet. And that’s about it as far as care is concerned.

So when Tate from Keen & Co. contacted me about doing a post and sharing an info-graphic on how to care for your tableware, I was a bit confused at first. HOW to CARE for tableware? I mean, how many ways are there to care for tableware?

Turns out, there are a LOT. And now is the perfect time to learn about them, right before all the Christmas dinner parties begin! So, without further ado, let’s let Tate school us all!

It’s something many homeowners are guilty of – putting a lot of time and effort into picking out beautiful tableware, flatware, and glassware sets to perfectly complement a new kitchen, only to put the “good stuff” in storage and use lower-quality tableware on a daily basis. Don’t hide your beautiful tableware just because you don’t know how to take care of it without damaging it! Here’s a quick overview of how to care for your tableware properly.

Sterling silver is dishwasher safe flatware, as long as you only use a small amount of detergent. Store it safely away from anything with sulfur (such as rubber or wool), and use silver polish and a silver nitrate treated cloth to slow tarnishing. 

Gold vermeil should be hand washed with mild soap and dusted regularly with a dry cloth instead of polished. This soft metal is easily scratched, so store it in a soft-lined flatware case. Gold plated flatware, similarly, requires hand washing and careful storage. It can be polished with general metal polish and a gold polishing cloth.

Silver plated flatware is dishwasher safe, but like sterling silver, only use a little detergent. Don’t wash silver plates next to stainless steel in the dishwasher, as the metals will react and discolor. You can polish silver plates using silver polish and a silver nitrate treated cloth. Stainless steel is dishwasher safe and can be shined using stainless steel polish. Avoid hand washing stainless steel with hard-bristled brushes or scouring pads, because they can wear away the chromium oxide film. 

White porcelain and decal or underglaze porcelain tableware are dishwasher and microwave safe, and they don’t even need to be polished. Hand-painted and metallic porcelain, on the other hand, require careful hand washing and are not microwave safe. Hand-painted and gold-coated porcelain don’t need polishing, and the typical silver polishing method will work for silver-coated porcelain.

Glassware, unless it’s blown, is dishwasher safe and should be dried on the lowest setting to avoid spots forming. Crystal, unless your dishwasher has a crystal setting, should be hand-washed with mild soap. Glassware and crystal can both be polished with glass polish to remove the film that forms with regular washing.

You carefully chose your tableware, and you should show it off every time you dine. With this tableware care guide, you can use your elegant tableware for years without damaging it.


I never knew that you shouldn’t wash silver plates next to stainless steel in the dishwasher, that the metals would react and discolor! Now THAT’S a good tip! And how about that info-graphic?! Thanks so much for sharing with us, Tate!

What about you? Any tips on caring for your tableware, especially in lieu of the upcoming Christmas events? Or did you learn anything new from this post?

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

49 thoughts on “How to Care for Your Tableware! – A Guest Post!

  1. This is really helpful. I have a nice-ish set, but it just sits in my hutch until we bust it out once a year on Thanksgiving.

  2. Wow what amazing information! I pinned this so I can keep referring back to it. I had no idea of all the differences…although I did know about the gold on the china only because I did the same thing you did! Oops!

  3. Lots of great info here, although most of it doesn’t apply to me, since I don’t have a dishwasher, nor do I have many of these nice things!

    I do recall a time, though, when I put a casserole dish in the microwave and it exploded – actually broke quite neatly in half – because I didn’t notice it had a thin gold rim on it!

  4. This is good info to have for if I ever get a nice set of tableware. I’m still rocking my grandma’s hard plastic stuff from the 1970’s that she passed on when I got my first place. Melamine or something like that, it’s called.

  5. I am so glad you mentioned that Homeowners should not hide their tableware. Guilty here….I spend time choosing the ones I like, then I buy a second set to used everyday..That’s kind of dumb for real! I guess with all these tips on how to care for them, I can now put them out – They are all just plain white though!!

  6. I polished enough silverware growing up that I never wanted any for myself! This is all very good advice for those of you who have expensive dinner and silverware.

  7. I don’t really have any really expensive tableware so I am pretty safe right now. My mom is going to give me her good china which has some gold plating and her silver soon so I will have to bookmark this page.

  8. Wow this is really really helpful. I feel bad I just toss all my old stuff in a box and donate it then go buy new stuff. I also have and issue with odd numbers so I got rid of all of our utensils, plates and cups then bought new sets with 4 of everything. I know I am a little nuts.

  9. These are some great tips, Kristen! I’m a tableware junkie and I have to really reign myself in or I would have more china/crystal that I could possible store or ever use. 🙂

  10. Great information and Info-graphic. It should be on the inside front cover of cookbooks!
    I love lots of different dishes and patterns but the hand painted porcelain is my personal favorite.

  11. Wow! I had no idea that there were so many different tableware options. We don’t have fancy tableware at our house, but I have some hand painted porcelain plates left from my grandmother.

  12. This is really great information. I didn’t know putting China in the microwave would start a fire. I need to do a better job of taking care of my tableware.

  13. I did not know that it was not a good idea to put silverware next to stainless steel in the dishwasher. It makes sense that taking the time to understand who different materials react with each other can help you avoid damages to your tableware. We are moving to a new house and my wife wants to get new dinnerware and other kitchen and eating utensils, so I’ll make sure to share your tips with her.

  14. It was interesting to read that hand-painted porcelain dishes need to be hand-washed. I’ve been thinking about getting a nice porcelain plate set but I’ve never had one before. Keeping them clean and pretty would be a high priority after getting a set, so this article was great!

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