DIY Network

How To Clean China and Crystal

Never put china -- especially antique, hand-painted or metal-rimmed china -- or crystal in the dishwasher because they are easily damaged and chipped. Follow these instructions for washing fine dishes by hand.

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air dry china in dish drain
  • Time

    15 Minutes

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Fill the Sink with Warm Water

Never use hot water when washing delicate china and crystal. If it's too hot for your hands, it's too hot for china and crystal, and sudden changes of temperature can cause dishes and glasses to crack. Fold a towel and place it in the bottom of the sink to act as a cushion for dishes and glasses. Fold a towel and place it in the rinse side of the sink.

use towel in sink to act as cushion

Step 2: Add Soap and Vinegar

Add a generous squirt of liquid dish soap to the wash water. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the wash water. The vinegar will cut any grease and water spots on crystal, and it's a natural and safe cleaner, so don't worry if you add more than a tablespoon of it to the water.

Step 3: Wash the Dishes by Hand

Wash a few pieces at a time, laying crystal on its side as it goes into the water. This method helps lessen the temperature difference between the room and the water. Wash crystal with your hands, not a cloth, then gently rinse.

wash crystal by hand

Step 4: Dry the Dishes

Dry gently, using a lint-free or linen cloth. Store stem-side down: storing cup-side down endangers the delicate rim of the glass. Hand-wash china and either dry with a towel or air-dry in a dish drain; just don't crowd pieces together.