How to clean porcelain and delicate materials

Want to know how to get materials like porcelain and bone china clean whilst preserving them at the same time? Read on for advice on cleaning delicate materials.

Updated 7 June 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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How to clean porcelain and delicate materials

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Key steps for cleaning porcelain and bone china:

  1. 1

    When washing porcelain and bone china, avoid changing the temperature of the water.

  2. 2

    Take extra care when cleaning metal-trimmed porcelain dinnerware.

  3. 3

    Avoid using bleach or abrasive cleaners.

Porcelain is a type of hard-fired clay originally made in China used for a variety of purposes, from decorative tea sets to bath fixtures. The fragile nature of porcelain and variants like bone china can make cleaning your dishes and ornaments seem risky. Often some of the most valuable items in the home are made of porcelain, so it’s a good idea to establish a safe cleaning routine that enhances your prize collection at the same time! Let’s take a look at the best ways to take care of porcelain.

When cleaning a delicate material like porcelain, it is essential to use cool or warm water. Water that is too hot could damage the delicate finish!

What’s the best way to clean porcelain figures and ornaments?

Porcelain and other types of china are often used for items that are purely for display in the home –whether it be a floor-standing vase or a tiny figurine. These ornamental objects can easily trap dust and dirt, so it’s important to keep them looking their best.

  1. 1

    First, remove any dust with a dry cloth. Microfibre material is the best as the negative charge helps pull away dust from the surface instead of moving it around the vase or figurine.

  2. 2

    Then, use a small, soft-bristled brush to extract dust from tiny holes and crevices on the ornament.

  3. 3

    One by one, wash the porcelain items in warm – not hot – water and mild detergent. Always wash the pieces in a plastic bowl, or place rubber mats on the bottom and sides of the sink, as even a slight knock against the hard surface may damage the chinaware.

  4. 4

    Lay out some paper towel on the counter for drying.

  5. 5

    Rinse under warm water and place on the towels to dry.

Porcelain cleaning tips

When cleaning porcelain, the most important thing to avoid is any change in temperature. This could be difficult to do if you have a porcelain kitchen sink, but the same guidelines apply. Don’t use water which is too hot for either washing or rinsing, and try to slide thin items like plates slowly into the water, using the larger surface first to allow the piece to acclimatise. Metal-trimmed dinnerware is also easily damaged, and the trimming can flake off when in contact with heat.

How do I remove stains and marks from porcelain dinnerware?

Many people have a china dinner set in the house for special occasions, but it can be a worry when it comes to cleaning off tea rings and cutlery marks. Fortunately, there are a few gentle methods to get rid of any food or drink stains on porcelain.

  1. 1

    Though china variants, such as stoneware, are dishwasher and microwave-safe, it’s usually advisable to hand-wash porcelain and bone china dishes. Despite the hardness of the material, these pieces are often brittle and easy to damage

  2. 2

    Bleach and chemical cleaners should always be avoided when cleaning porcelain

  3. 3

    Instead, tackle marks and stains by dampening a soft sponge and sprinkling over some baking soda, rubbing the area gently to remove the mark. You can substitute this for toothpaste, but never use a toothbrush or anything too abrasive for porcelain cleaning

  4. 4

    If this doesn’t work, try combining a solution of equal parts salt and vinegar, leaving the solution soaking on the stain for up to an hour

  5. 5

    Then wash as normal

  6. 6

    For really stubborn stains, soak stains for longer, or consider purchasing a porcelain cleaner with added peroxide from your local hardware store

Cleaning porcelain tiles and bathtubs

When it comes to cleaning older bathroom fittings, such as tiles, porcelain bathtubs, and taps, wash these with a mild solution of dish detergent and warm water in the same way you would dinnerware or other porcelain ornaments. The best way to clean porcelain tiles is to ensure they are not subjected to harsh cleaners or scourers. For limescale and watermarks, try mixing a baking soda paste and soaking the stains, or buy a specialist tile and bathroom cleaners for porcelain.

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