How to care for ceramics – part two

Cleaning your pottery

Ok so you’ve now determined that your piece is in perfect condition, time to clean!

A lot of people recommend that you use hot soapy water which is fine, if your nervous about cleaning your pottery this is the way to go.

If you’ve got a casserole dish or anything with baked on food soak your piece first, ideally overnight with hot water and washing up liquid. This should release the stubborn food and allow you to clean your pot easier without the need to scrub it. You should do this to guarantee your piece comes out clean regardless of hand washing or putting it in the dishwasher.

If theres any kind of gold leaf on the surface of the pot you should use a damp cloth in gentle circular motions. Gold leaf can be very delicate especially on vintage pieces, if you were to wash it intensively it’d just rub off.

Dishwashers tend to polarise opinion, I’m actually fine with putting my pottery into the dishwasher. I’d recommend that you try it out on one small piece first, if your satisfied with the clean you get then you can continue to use it.

The quality of wash in your dishwasher will vary of course depending on the machine itself, the cleaner your using and if you live in a hard water area. Many people don’t recommend it due to the high temperatures and intensive chemicals used in dishwasher powders. In the UK you can buy ecological dishwasher tablets by Ecover which are biodegradable and have minimal impact to marine life.

I tend to feel that the convenience of using a dishwasher outweighs the potential hazards but of course its a decision thats up to you.

What not to do with your pottery

One thing thats generally not recommended is to put your pottery into the microwave. Its not something I’ve yet personally tried but normal commercial pottery can become dangerously hot and I wouldn’t want anyone scalding themselves on a hot mug.

The other problem with microwaving pottery is the way microwaves actually work. As they heat something up they’re really targeting the water molecules in food to jiggle them about. If theres a crack or anywhere moisture can hide in the body of your pot it’ll jiggle those too and so it’ll explode.

Another recommendation of mine would be to stack your pottery as little as possible. Stacking can cause chipping and unnecessary stress on the outside of your pot when they stick together.

If theres something I haven’t covered here I’d love to hear from you, just leave a question in the comments below!

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