Don't let crazing make you crazy. Porcelain is a ceramic known for its toughness and durability. However, crazing, or tiny cracks, may show up over time and stains may set into the porcelain. There are several simple techniques to clean antique porcelain.
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What Is Crazing?
Crazing is fine cracks in the porcelain's glaze. They often have a spiderweb-like appearance. Stains can set in and make the crazing more visible and make the dishes look dirty or worn.
The cause of crazing is the glaze being put under too much tension. The tension happens when the glaze contracts more than the clay body does when cooling after being in the kiln. Glazes are a very thin coating, so most will craze quite easily. There are several options to try at home for crazing repair.
Start With Soap and Water
Always start with the gentlest cleaning method. Morning Glory Antiques recommends cleaning the dishes using soap and warm water. Dawn dish soap or another soap without dyes or scents are best. Scrub the dishes with a washcloth. Do not use anything more abrasive to scrub the porcelain, like a sponge or brush, since this could damage it.
If this alone does not remove the stains, then Morning Glory Antiques suggests trying a soap soak. Fill a plastic container with very soapy water. Place the dishes in the container to soak. Make sure they are completely submerged and not stacked so that all sides are getting the benefit of the soap. Place the lid on the container and allow it to soak for two weeks. Next, wipe the pieces using fresh, warm, soapy water and a washcloth. A lot of the staining should come right off. If it does not, repeat the soap soak for another two weeks. If the stains persist, a more intense method may be needed.
Try Hydrogen Peroxide
Red and brown stains can set into the crazing over time. This can give the overall dish a dirty or aged look. To remove the staining on white porcelain, How To Clean Stuff recommends soaking the dishes in hydrogen peroxide.
Fill a plastic tub with hydrogen peroxide. You may need to buy several bottles. Place the porcelain pieces into the tub so that they are fully covered and make sure all the surfaces have access to the hydrogen peroxide. You do not want to stack them, you want them to soak. Allow the dishes to soak for 48 hours. Make sure the lid is closed on the plastic tub to make it airtight. Remove the pieces from, the tub and wash them off with water. Make sure all the hydrogen peroxide is rinsed off. If you have more dishes to soak, start with fresh hydrogen peroxide.
Do not use this method if the porcelain is broken or chipped. Use caution or avoid altogether if using this method on patterned or color porcelain since the hydrogen peroxide may bleach it and cause padding or discoloration. Try a spot test on colors and patterns first to see how the porcelain will react. Hydrogen peroxide can be used for porcelain sink crazing as well.
Use Baking Soda Paste
Another method worth trying is making baking soda paste. This all-natural cleaner consists of mixing baking soda and water together. Add the water slowly since you want a thick and pasty consistency. How To Clean Stuff suggests cleaning the dishes by scrubbing them softly with a toothbrush. Rinse the paste off with water. Repeat as needed. This method can be used to spot treat dishes. It is also a quicker fix if you are in a rush and do not have time to soak the dishes.
Use Oxygen Bleach
Lakeside Pottery recommends using store-bought oxygen bleach, specifically OXY. This powder is often used for cleaning laundry but can also be used for pottery. You can also purchase a liquid form of oxygen bleach. Mix in the powder with hot water and stir thoroughly. Allow it to cool, and then place the dishes in the mixture and let them soak for a few hours. Check on the dishes after two hours to see if there is any progress. The stains should start to fade away. If the stains are still there, soak the dishes for a few more hours. Rinse off with water.
Crazing does not have to make your porcelain look dull or dirty. These cleaning methods can make your porcelain look shiny again.
Meg Scanlon earned a Masters from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing can be found on Hunker, Cuteness, Funny or Die, BarkPost, Taste of Home, LoveTV and ALittleBitFunny.com.