How do I Care for Porcelain Tea Sets?

Patti Kate

Whether you've inherited antique fine porcelain tea sets, or your porcelain sets are brand new, you will need to gently handle and protect the pieces. Properly washing your fragile tea set is one of the most important aspects of caring for it, so choose the right soap and wash pieces carefully and individually to avoid damage. Porcelain tea sets also should be carefully stored and regularly dusted to prevent damage.

Porcelain tea sets should be washed carefully.
Porcelain tea sets should be washed carefully.

When cleaning porcelain tea sets, avoid using harsh chemicals or soap that can leave residue. You must wash your porcelain tea sets in the mildest dish washing liquid. Do not use detergents that contain lemon juice or other citrus products, as the acid may harm the porcelain. Every time you wash your porcelain, be sure to always use some type of protective covering underneath to avoid chipping the delicate china. This can be a dish towel or mat. Never place the porcelain directly in the sink without a cushion.

Cotton balls may be used to apply polish to porcelain tea sets.
Cotton balls may be used to apply polish to porcelain tea sets.

You should avoid washing all pieces if your porcelain tea sets together at once. If you do so, the pieces could bump together, causing damage or chipping. Hand wash each piece separately. Be sure to rinse all traces of soapy water from the porcelain. After rinsing, place the tea set pieces on a plastic-coating drying rack or some type of dish mat to dry thoroughly. Never store your porcelain tea sets away while the pieces are still wet.

It is a good idea to store your porcelain tea sets in some type of cabinet. One with glass doors or any type of enclosure is best. This will help keep dust out and preserve the fine materials.

Although you have stored your porcelain sets in an enclosure, you will still want to take the pieces out periodically to dust them. This is especially important if your pieces have been stored without use for a long period of time. Dust your porcelain sets one piece at a time. Do not hold the cups by the handle while cleaning your porcelain. Gently dust with a soft cloth, such as one made from microfiber.

If you notice any tarnish on the fine details of your porcelain, you may use a silver polishing cleaner. Never dip your pieces directly into the solution, however. You may dip a cotton ball or rag into the polish and very gently polish the piece. Alternately, you may use a solution of hydrogen peroxide. It is very important not to use force when applying the cleaner or you may damage the trim.

A dish towel can be placed under a porcelain tea set during the washing process to avoid chipping and breaks.
A dish towel can be placed under a porcelain tea set during the washing process to avoid chipping and breaks.

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Discussion Comments


One of my mom's friends brought her a porcelain tea set back from England many years ago. She has taken good care of it over the years and I don't think it's been damaged in any way.

When my cousin got married, Mom had an afternoon tea for her with just family, and brought out the tea set. It really made the day special for all of us.

The pieces really are tender, and if the owner treats them tenderly, they will last for a long, long time.


I've always wanted a porcelain tea set. I think they're so lovely and old-fashioned looking! My grandmother had one and I know she washed hers very carefully and kept it in the china cabinet unless she was using it.

I guess if I had one, I might keep it in bubble wrap. That would be a good way to make sure it didn't get chipped or cracked. I'm sure there are probably cleaners made especially for something like tea sets, so I'd look around for a good one. I know antique stores sometimes stock these kinds of cleaners, since they also sell tea sets and other specialty items.

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