Does the Fine China Dishwasher Cycle Protect Your Dishes?

by Bill Welles

Whether you’re trying to impress house guests during a fancy meal or celebrating a cherished holiday gathering, some people like to break out the fine china. Sometimes, it’s a family heirloom passed down from your great aunt Ethel, or sometimes, it’s a high-end wedding gift that you’ve left waiting in the box for the right occasion. You might regret not exchanging the china for something a little more practical like a coffee maker or new cutlery set, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, the more guests you have to serve and the more dishes you have to clean, brings up the age-old question: Can china go in the dishwasher?  

The short answer is yes—but be cautious. Most dishwashers do offer a cycle for delicate items, but if the dinnerware is especially old or is an antique collection that is valuable to you, avoid routine cleanings in the dishwasher. A wash cycle with a mild detergent will certainly clean your dishes safely and effectively, but washing china frequently can lead to water damage, scratches, chipping, or damage to the fine details.  

Now, if you’re like most people, the fine china only makes an appearance when your grandmother comes over for Christmas dinner or when you’re trying to show off to the neighbors. If that’s the case, then running a wash cycle with your china plates only once or twice a year will be fine. The risk occurs if metal-trimmed, hand-painted designs, or glazed patterns are washed too frequently at too high of a temperature. The extreme heat can cause fading and warping of the design. If you are unsure whether your plates are safe for the dishwasher, check with the manufacturer of the chinaware or check your dishwasher settings for clarification.  

The Safe Cycle 

If you’re considering tossing your china in the dishwasher but you want to ensure you’re using a cycle that won’t damage your dishes, which wash cycle would be considered safe? There are a few different options when it comes to washing dishes—Steam + Sani, 1-Hour Wash Cycle, Rapid Rinse, or Sanitize—but which of these settings is appropriate for washing china? 

Truth be told, while any of these standard wash settings seem sufficient, there are safer options available. If you don’t feel like hand-washing every plate and platter, use the China Crystal or Delicate Wash Cycle.  

Select GE dishwashers come equipped with these wash cycles to be used on lightly soiled china and crystal items. This rinse is like the energy-saver cycle, but the wash action pumps a flow of air along with the water to create a much softer wash cycle and protect your delicate items.  

The China Crystal cycle also uses less hot water and cleans at a lower temperature to provide a gentler wash action. The water-fill is controlled by an internal timer which takes about 60 seconds to fill. A regular cycle takes 90 seconds to fill, so a higher concentration of water for an extended period can further damage delicate items.  

If you don’t find a model with a china or crystal cycle, a delicate or Light Wash cycle is another safe setting.  

Additional Wash Cycles 

Another acceptable wash cycle comes from the Bosch Ascenta series. This Bosch dishwasher comes with six different wash cycles, one of them being a Delicate Wash specifically for fine china. This setting allows you to shorten your clean up time by loading your fine china into your dishwasher for a safe and gentle clean. On top of that, it incorporates 18 unique sound-reducing technologies for a supremely quiet cleaning. The 24/7 Overflow Protection System helps prevent water leaks and the self-latching door holds at any position, automatically closing and latching shut if your door is open at less than 20 degrees.  

We’ve uncovered a few different wash cycles that are effective in washing your china, but what about drying? The real damage comes from the high concentration of heat given off by the dry cycle. So, if you want to ensure your delicate dishware is both washed and dried safely, what do you do?  

Thanks to Bosch yet again, the answer is simple—CrystalDry technology. This setting thoroughly transforms moisture into heat to get your dishes 60 percent drier without reaching damaging temperatures. Your dishes will experience the ultimate dry so there’s no need to holler at the kids to wipe down the water spots. Delicate items including plastics, china, steel, glass, and porcelain can all be included in the cycle for safe and effective cleaning.  

Let’s Recap 

Again, if you’re wondering how to wash china in the dishwasher, do so sparingly. China and delicate crystal items should not be washed (or used for that matter) on a regular basis. If it’s a special occasion and you don’t have time to wash dishes by hand in-between courses, be sure you’re using one of the cleaning cycles highlighted in this article to protect your dishware.  

Whether you use your china as dessert plates or a showcase of glassware in a curio cabinet, be sure to take the right precautions to protect your delicate items. If you have questions or you’re interested in exploring dishwashers with any of these delicate wash cycles, give us a call or visit us at Don’s Appliances to shop our entire catalog of dishwashers. It’s not a stocking stuffer, but a new dishwasher will sure look nice in your kitchen.