How to Clean Antique Porcelain


Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is admired by many for its delicate feel and translucent texture. Also known as fine china, porcelain is commonly used in the creation of tableware, bathroom appliances, decorative items, pottery and sculptures. Though fragile in appearance, it is quite durable, and pieces are frequently passed from one generation to the next. Like all things, over time, porcelain pieces will accumulate dust, dirt and debris. Even with the best of care, beautiful keepsakes can become discolored and stained. Fortunately, a careful but thorough cleaning will help to restore antique porcelain to its former glory.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft towels or old blankets
  • Soft cloths
  • 1/4 cup dish-washing soap
  • 1 qt. warm water
  • Sponge
  • Dry towel
  • Cotton swabs
  • 2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • Prepare your work area by covering it with several layers of soft toweling or old blankets. This will help to prevent unintentional chipping or breakage should you lose your grip during the cleaning process.

  • Set the item in the center of the work area. Beginning at the top, brush the porcelain with soft cloth to remove any loose dust or dirt. Work your way slowly from the top to the bottom.

  • Combine ¼ cup mild dish-washing soap and 1 qt. warm water. Stir vigorously to generate suds.

  • Dip a sponge or soft cloth into the soapy water and wring lightly to remove any excess fluid. Apply the damp cloth to the porcelain and wipe gently, removing any soil or residue. Pat dry with a soft cloth.

  • Treat any remaining stains with vinegar. Pour 2 tbsp. of distilled white vinegar into a shallow dish. Dip the end of a cotton swab into the vinegar, then dab the moist cotton against any areas of discoloration. A weak acid, vinegar will dissolve most organic substances. Wipe the treated area with a damp cloth to remove any excess vinegar and allow the newly cleaned piece to air dry.

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