How to Clean Bone China

Hold fine bone china up to the light and it has a translucent quality suggesting fragility; however, it is remarkably durable. But that does not mean it can be handled casually or simply tossed into the dishwasher. Treated with care and gently cleaned, bone china can be a point of pride on the dinner table or on display in your home for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Feather duster
  • Soft dust cloth
  • Soft dish cloth
  • Q-tips
  • Small thick bath towel
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Denture cleaning tablets
  • Vaseline
  • Glass lint-free dish towel

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Dusting, Cleaning and Removing Stains

Dust bone china regularly using a feather duster or soft dusting cloth to discourage dirt buildup. Be sure to hold the china securely in one hand while dusting.

Clean crevices and folds on china with a water-dampened Q-tip, again holding the piece securely in one hand. Placing a small towel under the object can help stop slippage while you clean.

Line the kitchen sink with a small bath towel or thick dish towel before hand washing the china. Fill the sink with warm, soapy water (regular dishwashing liquid is fine) and gently wash the china using a soft cloth. Keep a dry towel handy and dry your hands if they become too soapy. Wet bone china can be very slippery.

Rinse the pieces in a bowl or sink filled with tepid water and 1 tsp. of white vinegar, and set the china on a towel to dry. Finish drying by wiping the pieces with a lint-free glass cloth.

Remove food or beverage stains by soaking the piece in a cloth-lined sink filled with warm water and lemon juice or baking soda. (Use the juice of a whole lemon or 1/4 cup of baking soda for each gallon of water.)

Treat stubborn tea and coffee stains in teapots and cups by using denture cleaning tablets. Drop 1 tablet into 2 cups of warm water in a glass pitcher, then pour the mixture into the stained pot or cup. Leave to soak for at least an hour, then rinse and dry with a lint-free glass dish towel. The process can be repeated if the stains are stubborn.

Tips & Warnings

  • Protect gold or platinum-rimmed pieces while washing or cleaning by smearing a thin film of Vaseline on the gold rim. To keep bone china firmly in place on a shelf or in a cabinet while dusting, use "museum putty," a stainless clay-like material that holds the china in place.
  • Never use pressure or rub aggressively when washing bone china and never use a rough cloth or cleaning pad, especially on hand-painted or patterned pieces.


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