Regarding Dishwashers and Your Tableware:
I wash my 18th Century Rose Medallion and great-grandmothers' crystal and sterling flatware in the dishwasher by following these simple, few rules:
- Load your dishes and crystal evenly and unload slowly. Lay the crystal or glass stemware down flat on the rack, however it fits nicely. Do not thrash around dishes, crowd and cram the dishwasher filled with pots and pans next to the crystal and flat silver with plastic items on top. Wash the pots and pans separately from the sterling.
- DO NOT use lemon detergent on china, crystal or flatware. Use plain detergent. China and crystal, in particular, have a glaze over them and the acidity from the lemon eats away at this glaze, and can eat away at the gold rims, gold accents and all colors on the china and crystal. Lemon detergent IS ONLY for removing the grease on pots and pans. For some reason, the brand Cascade leaves a residue over time.
- DO NOT use the heat button in your dishwasher, all that heat is not necessary. Have you ever opened the door during the heat cycle?! Always use the "Gentle Wash" and "Air Dry" features. The dishwasher's does not sterilize dishes anyway and you are wasting energy, spending money and weakening your dishes and crystal in the meantime. The "Air Dry" feature is plenty warm enough and will not melt the gold on your crystal or china.
- Never mix metals (stainless pots and pans or stainless flatware) with sterling silver. It's a metallurgy thing. The metal will pit out your sterling, those hard to clean black spots, then you'll have to clean your sterling.
- If you wash your good sterling silver in the dishwasher, you will not need to clean your sterling but once a year. After a year, it will develop a white filmy tint. An easy polish will bring its natural luster back.
- Before washing your sterling knives in the dishwasher, always test one first. Some knife handles made between the 1880's and the First World War were filled with plaster and will explode in the dishwasher.
- Sterling silver will develop a patina naturally. The patina is what gives sterling its third dimension, its character. Do not buff it out. Leave the old hand monogramming too.
- Finding a craftsman to hand monogram any metal is difficult these days. If you have or purchase at auction any sterling silver flatware and other sterling pieces (trays, vases, etc.) DO NOT have the old hand monogramming buffed out. The pieces will loose their patina, charm and conversation potential. You will also be removing valuable microns of silver in the buffing process and if the buffing process is done unevenly, your piece will come out with visible waves and bumps.
Enjoy your next dinner party!