How to Clean Servingware

There's nothing more daunting than facing a goopy, stuck-on cheesy pan of lasagna after a big Italian meal. (Except maybe facing all the stuck-on cheesy plates and forks, too!) But putting off cleaning that dish will only make your situation worse.

This article will provide helpful tips and guidelines for cleaning servingware. We'll cover all the basics, from everyday flatware to crystal glasses.

In the next section, we'll get started with some advice for cleaning something you use every night: dinnerware.

Cleaning Dinnerware

To make short work of cleaning dinnerware, remove food residue as quickly as possible. Scrape dishes with a rubber scraper or plastic brush to prevent scratches; never scrape plates with knives or other sharp objects. These suggestions also will help:

  • Rinse out cups before residues have a chance to stain them.
  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, and wine, allowed to remain on glazed dinnerware can pit the surface.
  • To protect glass and china from breaking while you are washing it, use a plastic dish pan or rubber sink mat. You can also pad the bottom of the sink with a towel.
  • Do not wash delicate, hand-painted, gold- or silver-trimmed, or antique dinnerware in the dishwasher. Metal-trimmed dinnerware should also not be soaked in soapy water for long periods of time; this will damage the trim.

What goes great with dinnerware? Utensils, of course. On the next page, we'll find out how to clean flatware and cutlery.

Cleaning Flatware and Cutlery

Most people wash knives, forks, and spoons along with other dishes. If you're washing by hand, wash flatware after the glasses and before the plates. Cutlery (knives and other cutting instruments) can be cleaned in the same way as flatware, but observe the manufacturer's instructions to be sure that the cutlery is dishwasher-safe.

  • Always wash gold-plate flatware by hand and buff to bring up the shine and prevent water spots.
  • Sterling-silver and silver-plate flatware may be washed in the dishwasher, but will need to be polished less often if it is washed by hand.
  • Rinse salt and acidic food off flatware as soon as possible to avoid stains.
  • Clean streaks on your everyday flatware by rubbing with a soft cloth sprinkled with a little olive oil. Use a second cloth to buff.
  • Make a paste of cornstarch and water and apply to tarnished silverware. Let dry; wipe clean with a dry cloth.
  • Mix a solution of 5 ounces dry milk powder, 12 ounces water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Pour into a 9x13-inch cake pan. Drop in tarnished silverware, and let it sit overnight. Rinse and dry all pieces thoroughly.
  • Store silverware in rolls, bags, or cases made with special tarnish-resistant cloth.
  • Place 1 or 2 pieces of white chalk in your silverware chest to prevent tarnishing.
  • Do not allow stainless-steel flatware to touch anything made of silver in the dishwasher. It will set up an electrolytic action that pits the stainless steel and leaves black spots on the silver.

Now that your flatware and cutlery are shimmering, let's move on and give some shine to that glassware in your cabinet.

Cleaning Glassware

Most glassware can be safely washed in the dishwasher, but gilt- and silver-trim glass, delicate crystal, milk glass, and ornamental glass must be washed by hand. If you have soft water, wash all glassware by hand -- the combination of soft water and detergent will etch and permanently dull glassware.

  • Before you wash glassware, cushion the bottom of the sink with a towel or rubber mat.
  • Add vinegar to the wash water or rinse water for more sparkle; ammonia in the wash water will cut grease on glassware.
  • Slowly slide stemware into the water, holding the glass by the base; if you push a glass into the water bottom first, it is likely to crack. ©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Hold the base of a glass when submerging it in water.
  • Remove dirt from crevices with a soft brush; remove stains by rubbing with a cut lemon or washing in a vinegar solution.
  • Allow glassware to drip-dry upside down, or polish with a soft cloth.
  • Clean stained decanters by filling them with water and adding 1 cup ammonia or vinegar. Soak overnight.

Follow the guidelines and suggestions in this article, and your guests will be impressed not only with the food on their plates but with the plates themselves.

©Publications International, Ltd.