Although any kind of china is safer when washed by hand, modern bone china is durable and generally withstands an automatic dishwasher when certain precautions are taken, because it was hardened in a kiln at extremely high temperatures when it was made. Load the dishwasher in a way that prevents other items, especially metal and glass, from touching the bone china, but do not overload. Use a mild detergent that is free of citrus or other acid-based additives, as they can damage the finish and wear down decorative features. Choose a gentle cycle and allow bone china to cool off before handling.
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Vintage or Antique Bone China
Do not wash vintage or antique bone china in a dishwasher. Unless the bone china pieces are vintage or antique, the manufacturer has likely stamped the back or bottom of the piece with an indication of whether or not it is dishwasher safe. If bone china does not have this stamp, do not place it in the dishwasher. Older china diner ware with hand-painted designs should never be subjected to the heat and pressure of modern dishwashers. Paint, finishes and ornamental gold from earlier time periods can dissipate with prolonged exposure to heat and steam. Antique china potentially contains lead, which can leach out when subjected to frequent and intense heat. Do not put bone china or other fine dinner ware into the microwave either, as this can damage the dish ware.