This guide series is to give you some tips on how to care for your Royal Albert fine Bone china. Guide series covers things such as washing, storage (display & cupboard), and packing of your precious fine bone china. There are 3 parts to the series.
It might seem like a strange place to start, but washing is the first thing that anyone should do after getting their fine bone china. Often new china will arrive with particles from the packing material, or in some cases you'll even be (un)lucky enough to get food still stuck to your items. Believe me, it's happened to me more than once!
- The first thing to do is clear a nice big space around your sink.
- Run the water so that it is just luke warm (tepid). It should be warm enough so that you can stand to have your hands in the water without gloves on.
- Grab a couple of tea towels, and line the bottom of your sink. This is especially important if you are working with china that has gold edging. It will become marked if you bump it against the bottom of the sink, or against any metal objects (including taps - this is how most chips occur).
- Get a wooden or plastic covered draining rack. DO NOT USE STAINLESS STEEL DISH DRAINERS. If you don't have a suitable dish drainer, grab a few more teatowels and lay them flat on the draining area of your sink so that they protect the edges of your china. Most damage is done to china during the washing and cupboard storage.
- Add some dish washing liquid to the water. Please don't use a lot of washing liquid. You only need enough so that it removes the dirt, not so that it forms a foam mountain in your sink. The water should not feel "slippery" when you put your items into it.
- If your items are heavily soiled, you may need to leave them soak for a little while. I recommend leaving them for as long as it takes for the food soil to become completely soft. This could be as long as half an hour. It is important that food soil is completely soft because you don't want to use a sourer on your china. While bone china is a very durable item, many of the older finishes are easily scratched with modern scourers.
- If you have highly valuable pieces, I suggest getting a leather chamois. The same type that is used to preserve the high-gloss finish on cars. You'll find that the chamois will clean the china very effectively and not leave any marks. If you don't own or don't have access to a chamois, never fear! Any soft cleaning cloth will do the trick just nicely.
- Wash the items and pay special attention to any residual food soil. If it feels like you need to scrub hard - DONT. Just let the item rest in the water till the food soil is softened.
- If you have a rinsing sink, ensure it is filled with luke warm water and run each piece carefully through the rinse water. This step is IMPORTANT because washing liquid can leave marks that may become permanent (depending on the chemicals in the washing liquid).
- Allow the pieces to drain, or if you have a helper, make sure that they are standing over a bench with the teatowels spread out. My Aunty always used to put a beach towel on the floor near the sink when washing her fine china because she said that it was a good buffer if anything got accidentally dropped. I think this is a bit excessive, but if you think it's helpful, then go for it. Remember, you can't buy a 50-100 year old replacement piece at K-mart (Walmart, Tescos)!
- Once your items have dried, they are ready to be stored, displayed, or used!
Read my Storage guide for how to store and display your fine china.