Your party date is set — and the pressure is on to make sure everything is perfect. But, what do you see when you pull out your tableware? Is your silver as shiny as you remembered? Does your crystal sparkle like new? With the holiday season and other festive gatherings approaching, now is the time to make sure your dinnerware glitters.
“China, crystal and silver are made to be used regularly and, if cared for properly, these pieces can last for generations,” says china/crystal restoration manager Sara Vestal of the Greensboro gay-owned Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. “What’s unfortunate is the fact we see so much damage that can actually be prevented by avoiding some very common mistakes.”
One of the biggest culprits Vestal sees is dishwasher damage. “The dishwasher is a huge enemy of fine dinnerware. Prongs on the racks may scratch the surface, while heat from the drying cycle can loosen gold or platinum trim on china, causing it to wear away. That cloudy or milky look you sometimes see on crystal is caused by the high heat actually baking lime, rust and other minerals from the dish water into the pores of the crystal. Plus, the heat can loosen the adhesive in knife handles, potentially causing the handle to separate from the blade.”
Replacements’ experts recommend washing your pieces by hand, even if labeled “dishwasher safe.” Avoid citrus-scented detergents — they contain acids that may damage the finish of china and silver. Also avoid detergents containing bleach; chlorine in these products may seep into the pores of china and crystal, causing damage even after rinsing.
Experts say these tips can help extend the life of your china:
• Storing china in areas that are not temperature or humidity controlled can cause the glaze to become brittle and crack. If you don’t use your china regularly, wash it at least once each year to keep impurities from impregnating the finish. This keeps the glaze strong.
• Fine china can develop rust spots when washed with silver, so it is important to clean the two separately. To remove rust spots from china, rub a small amount of a Soft Scrub without bleach type cleaning product on the spot. If this doesn’t work, put a small amount of rubbing compound on a paper towel and apply in a circular motion.
• To get rid of nicotine stains on china, make a paste out of baking soda — scrub and let it stand for 30 minutes before rinsing. Repeat this process until the stain disappears.
• Storage is extremely important when protecting your china. Put a cushioned layer such as a coffee filter, napkin or flannel square between pieces to prevent scratching.
• Avoid setting heavier bowls on plates and do not stack handled pieces, such as cups. Stacking weight can create tiny stress fractures which, over time, may cause plates to crack or handles to break off cups.
Don’t forget your crystal. Keep pieces sparkling with these simple steps:
• Wash crystal in lukewarm water and remember to remove jewelry that might scratch the delicate surface.
• One insider’s tip — add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse water to help prevent water spots.
• Immediately dry your crystal with a lint-free cloth.
• Avoid twisting glasses from the base; this motion may create enough torque to break the stem.
• To remove the milky tint caused by dishwasher cleaning, use a small amount of CLR cleaner to each piece of cloudy crystal. Let this stand for several hours and rinse by hand. (This treatment is not recommended for pieces with gold or platinum trim, as the cleanser may remove the metal gild).
• Store crystal pieces with the base down to protect the delicate rim. Remember to leave plenty of space between pieces. Glass expands in hot temperatures, so you want to make there’s enough breathing room so crystal items don’t touch.
To restore your silver’s luster, follow these helpful tips:
“A lot of people don’t realize that their silver’s finish actually improves with daily use,” says Replacements’ silver restoration manager, Jose Batista. “Silver pieces that are used regularly develop a rich patina, which is actually the blending of thousands of tiny scratches. This patina is what gives silver its beautiful satin finish.”
• Wash silver immediately after a meal. Food left on silver for as little as one hour can permanently stain sterling and damage silver-plated pieces. Be particularly wary of mayonnaise, vinegar and eggs.
• Experts recommend washing silver in a plastic container or putting a rubber mat in your sink to prevent contact between the silver and any metal surfaces.
• Dry immediately with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. One helpful hint — use a blow dryer on a low setting to dry hard to reach places.
• Silver needs to breathe. When storing, avoid using plastic or airtight containers that may trap moisture and cause tarnish.
• Also remember, any moisture on your hands can leave fingerprints, which also promotes tarnish. Wear soft cotton gloves when handling silver pieces.
Vestal and Batista agree, while many people would rather replace damaged pieces, others are so emotionally attached to family heirlooms that they prefer to have their sentimental treasures restored. For advice on repairing extensive damage, such as cracks or chips, contact Replacements Ltd.’s restoration experts at 800-737-5223. You can also find additional dinnerware care tips at www.replacements.com.
— courtesy of ARAcontent