Saturday, January 24, 2009

Preserving the shine and gold of your fine china and crystal.

My Antique Rose Medallion from the 1800's goes in the dishwasher. Yes. I put old china, and my grandmother's' sterling flat silver and antique crystal with the wide gold rim in the dishwasher. Shocked? Why? Because, who wants to hand wash all the dishes and glasses after a dinner party for 18 persons?

Here are some industry secrets:

1. Load and unload the dishwasher nicely. Spacing is key. Do not crowd. Do not put pots and pans in with the sterling, or gold rim (it's a metallurgy thing). I do not put pots or pans ever in the dish washer.

2. Use only 1 teaspoon of plain dish washing detergent. Do not use the detergent with the lemon. The plain detergent is hard to find. Hunt it out anyway.

Lemon is for pots and pans. Lemon is acidic. Lemon eats the glaze and the gold off of your china and crystal. Hand washing and soaking, or not soaking and running through the dishwasher, lemon detergent any where near your china and crystal will eat the glaze off of it and ruin your beautiful, fine wedding china. Lemon will also ruin every day china too. Over time the acid from the lemon ruins the glaze. Lemon also will eat the color and design off of your china whether it is hand painted or transfer ware.

3. Always, always, always use the gentle cycle and never, ever turn on the heat. Always air dry. Air dry, then wipe dry the china and sterling flatware if needed. The heat will weaken your china and crystal and will eventually melt off all the gold. Your home is not a hospital. The dishes do not need to be sterilized. It is your families' normal flora (familial, shared, good bacteria).

By using air dry and running the dishwasher (and washing machine/dryer) at night, you are also saving energy.

Tell your friends. They will, once again, think you are thrifty and smart !! Enjoy!

Tabletop Tip for the Week - Crisp Napkins

Dining at a very fancy traditional dinner party this weekend, I noticed very crisp, lovely linen, monogrammed dinner napkins. I have not seen linen napkins this crisp and able to stand upright, by themselves in a corner since I was a child.

As a child, I'd go the fridge for something to eat, and while standing with the door open, and my Mother saying "Get what you want out of the fridge and shut the door," I would then weed through all the rolled linen tablecloths and napkins in separate plastic bags to find a descent snack. I always knew when we were getting ready to have company or a party.

In order to have perfectly pressed linens without using spray starch, which breaks down the fibers, wash them in a gentle soap, (baby soap) then gently wring, lay the linen out flat, fold, and roll. Place the rolled up linen in a plastic bag and cool in the fridge overnight. The fridge cools and drys out the linen. Take out of the fridge the next day, (or soon after) unroll, and iron with a hot iron. The linen will sizzle and steam. Don't fret. It will iron out so nicely and so utterly crisp without damaging the threads. No starch ever necessary. Saves lots of money on Dry cleaning too.

Tell your friends, and they will think you are thrifty and smart. Try it and enjoy!