Water. Heat, Oil. Smoke. Detergents.
These five things will damage your ceramic items, quite often, beyond repair. The appearance of your treasures will be affected and any amount of damage will certainly devalue them. For the purpose of this instruction, I am referring to decorative glazed ceramics including porcelain, fine china, and bone china.*
As a reminder about the differences between ceramics, pottery, porcelain, and fine china read, or re-read https://www.avintageaddiction.com/post/ceramics-pottery-porcelain-fine-china-what-is-the-difference-and-does-it-matter
Treat yourself to a bunch of pretty peonies t put in grandma’s vase.
Use Aunt Em’s red rooster tile trivet every time you serve a chicken dish.
Fill the plate a friend handpainted for you with cookies the next time she comes over for coffee.
Because you'll clean it after you use it.
When it is on the highest shelf of your unused dishes cabinet or displayed on an etagere, you won't.
Frequent use and loving care are the most honorable way to pay homage to our vintage items and their heritage.
Objects in good condition can be safely cleaned to remove surface matter
Inspect the object for condition, looking for chips, cracks, previous repair, flaking glaze, and crazing**.
If anything has changed since your last inspection you must change the way you use, clean or the place you store it.
Remove loose dust and debris with a soft bristle brush. For gentle cleaning of anything delicate, I use extra-soft toddler toothbrushes from the dollar store.
Depending on the size and degree of ornamentation of your piece, a soft-bristled artist's or basting brush might be your desired tool.
Avoid using cloth as it may snag on fragile surfaces.
Washing with tap water is acceptable, but distilled or deionized water is preferable. Distilled water is mineral-free, making it less likely to leave water spots.
The water temperature should be room temperature to lukewarm. Prevent damage by avoiding exposing your objects to temperature change
Do not use detergents.
Sure, using a spritz of 409 or MR. Clean is tempting, especially for thrift finds and items used or displayed near your kitchen that collect a film of sticky greasy gunk. Just don’t.
I know you will so let’s alter that rule. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, use any product containing bleach or ammonia.
If You Must:
Use 50/50 water and white vinegar and your softest brush
After a light scrubbing, rinse with water and let air dry.
If additional cleaning is needed, this time use one tablespoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of water.
Repeat until you get the desired results.
Better yet, follow a schedule for dealing with these items regularly - bi-weekly or monthly - so you are not cleaning years of oil and debris.
Don’t immerse it!
Water will enter the hollow portions of the object, resulting in the formation of mold inside your piece.
Never use heat to reduce drying time.
Let the heat escape
Open your cabinet doors.
The first day of each month, open the doors before you go to bed, close them in the morning.
Simple. (Says the women whose kitchen calendar says November 2019 in March 2020.)
Let it breathe
Bubble wrap and foam pads are for shipping, not for storage. The heat they retail WILL mar your items
Use acid-free, chemically inert storage papers and ample padding of white cotton cloth without any ink or dye. Dyes may bleed onto the item.
*Unglazed fired ceramics can be destroyed by washing. Low-fired ceramics should not be washed because the soft clay will turn to mud when exposed to water. * * Crazing - What is crazing? Crazing is when the overglaze cracks. Crazing occurs from temperature, use, and time.