Can You Put China In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can You Put China In The Dishwasher?

China dinnerware holds sentimental value and is often reserved for special occasions. Cleaning these delicate pieces requires special attention. But can you trust your precious china in the dishwasher?

While some manufacturers label their china as dishwasher-safe, it’s generally safer to hand wash fine china to prevent chipping, fading, or loss of value. It’s crucial to understand the difference between modern and vintage china as well as your dishware’s dishwasher compatibility before deciding on a cleaning method.

Keep on reading as I explore the different types of china wares, the compatibility of china with dishwashers, examining the potential risks, benefits, and considerations involved. I will also explain the impact of heat, detergents, and some common queries about China and dishwashers. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Fine China

‘Fine china’ – a term often simultaneously used with ‘porcelain’–refers to a type of tableware known for its delicate beauty and refinement. Here are the significant characteristics that set it apart:


Fine china is crafted from kaolin clay and fired at high temperatures, resulting in a piece that’s simultaneously delicate and strong.


Well-known for its elegance, fine china often boasts intricate designs or embellishments like gold or silver linings.


Despite its strength, fine china is thin and light, which adds to its delicate charm.


Fine china is non-porous, leading it to stain less compared to other forms of tableware.

While some fine china might be marked as dishwasher-safe, its unique characteristics make it susceptible to chipping or losing its luster in a machine wash. It’s always recommended to check the manufacturer’s instructions before deciding on a cleaning method for your fine china.

Modern China versus Vintage China

Comparing modern and vintage china sets reveals some noteworthy differences in their durability and dishwasher safety.

Modern China

Today’s china sets are often more robust and dishwasher-safe. Manufacturers have adapted their processes to cater to busy lifestyles, resulting in pieces that can handle the rigors of a dishwasher. However, it’s still advisable to use gentler cleaning settings and avoid high-heat drying, as it can potentially damage the china.

Vintage China

In contrast to their modern counterparts, vintage china sets usually require more tender care. These pieces often feature delicate patterns or gold and silver embellishments that can be faded or damaged by a dishwasher. Additionally, vintage china tends to be more brittle, increasing the risk of chipping or cracking in the machine.

Assessing Your China for Dishwasher Compatibility

Before choosing a cleaning method for your china, it’s essential to assess its compatibility with dishwasher use. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Check for Labels

The simplest way to find out whether your china is dishwasher safe is to look for a manufacturer’s mark on the underside of the piece. Symbols or text like ‘dishwasher-safe’ offer a clear indication.

Age and Décor

Consider the age of your china and its decorations. Vintage china, or pieces with gold or silver trim, are often not safe for dishwashers, as the heat and strong detergents can cause fading or damage.

Gold or Silver Trim

If your china features gold or silver trim, it’s recommended to avoid the dishwasher. These metallic accents can become dulled or discolored under harsh dishwasher conditions.

Dishwasher Settings for China

If your fine china is deemed dishwasher-compatible, using the right settings can make a significant difference in preserving its appearance and durability. Here are some guidelines:

  • Gentle Cycle. Using the dishwasher’s gentle or china-cycle is recommended, as these settings clean at a lower water pressure, reducing the risks of chipping or cracking.
  • Lower Heat. Excessive heat can cause damage to fine china. Therefore, avoid using high-heat drying settings. Instead, air-dry your china after the wash cycle to protect it from heat damage.
  • Proper Placement. Placement is key in the dishwasher. Make sure pieces aren’t touching each other to prevent them from knocking together, which can cause chips or cracks.

Hand Washing Fine China

For particularly fragile or valuable china pieces, hand washing is a preferred option that enables delicate care. Here’s a simple guide to doing it right:

  • Warm Water. Use warm, but not hot water for cleaning. Hot water can lead to cracks due to thermal shock.
  • Gentle Soap. Opt for a mild, non-abrasive dish soap to avoid scratching the china’s surface or fading its decor.
  • Soft Cloth. Avoid harsh scrub brushes and steel wool. Instead, use a soft cloth or sponge for cleaning.
  • Drying.  Let your dishes air dry or pat them dry with a soft towel.

Maintaining the Beauty of Your China

Maintaining the beauty of your china starts with regular cleaning and proper storage. Here are some suggestions to keep your China spotless and shining for years:

Frequent Cleaning

Don’t procrastinate on cleaning your china, as food leftovers and stains can impact the clarity of the dishware over time.

Gentle Handling

Always handle your china with care, especially while cleaning or storing, to avoid any accidental chips or cracks.

Right Storage

Store your china in a cool, dry place. As well, cushioning it with tissue paper or similar soft material can prevent scratches when plates are stacked together.

Useful Products for China Care

Correct product choice can go a long way in the proper care of your china. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Gentle Dishwasher Detergents: If washing your china in a dishwasher, use detergents labeled as ‘gentle’ or ‘for fine china’. These formulas are typically less abrasive.
  2. Mild Dishwashing Soap: For hand washing, mild dish soap can clean your china without the risk of damaging it. Avoid anything with harsh chemicals or abrasive ingredients.
  3. Soft-Lined Dish Racks: Dish racks with a soft lining can prevent scratches or damage while drying.

Common Queries About China and Dishwashers

Some common queries about China and dishwashers can provide valuable insight for those unsure about best practices. Let’s tackle a few of these questions:

“Are dishwasher-safe labels reliable for China?” 

While they generally indicate that a piece can be washed in a dishwasher, they don’t guarantee that the item won’t sustain damage over time. It’s still best to opt for gentle cycles and avoid high-heat drying.

 “Can I wash gold-trimmed china in the dishwasher?”

It’s not recommended. Gold trims can become dull or discolored due to the harsh environment inside the dishwasher.

“Should I rinse my china before putting it in the dishwasher?” 

Yes, rinsing off food residues from your china before dishwasher loading can prevent food particles from scratching the surface during the wash cycle.


In conclusion, while some china may be dishwasher-safe, it’s generally recommended to hand wash these delicate pieces to maintain their beauty and longevity. While dishwashers may offer convenience, nothing tops the tender, careful cleaning that comes from a gentle hand wash for preserving your cherished china.

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