You can collect a variety of ceramics, but if you plan to put them in the dishwasher, you need to know if you can do it safely. Putting beautiful handmade Pottery into the dishwasher may ruin them if they weren’t originally made for that purpose.
Mid-fire and high-fire stoneware won’t have much problem in the dishwasher because of its hard and rigid exterior. However, beware of ceramics with bright glazes. A humid and soapy environment can wear down your ceramics over time. Low-fire clays also don’t do as well in the dishwasher because they may not be as durable.
Most Pottery can be washed in the Dishwasher, however, there are a few important things to remember. I’m going to help you decide when it’s okay to use a dishwasher on your handmade pottery and when you may want to hand wash instead.
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The Clay used will determine if its Dishwasher Safe
High-fire clay, such as porcelain, does better in the dishwasher. Even with high-fire clays, the dishwasher can damage metallic trims or images. The surface of high-fire clay has better hardness and non-absorbency. Many pieces, in fact, from high-fire clays, get used for functional purposes because of better durability.
Mid-fire clays like stoneware can be used in the dishwasher as well because of the non-porous material.
Now, we have low-fire clays such as earthenware. While most earthenware can go in the dishwasher safely, exercise caution. If a piece appears delicate, hand wash it rather than risk it. Earthenware ceramic chips more easily than mid-fire and high-fire clays.
Important to note: Most earthenware can safely go in the dishwasher, but not all earthenware does well in the microwave. For more detailed information, you can go to Is Pottery Microwave Safe.
Identifying the clay used in your dinnerware.
You may have a hard time putting Pottery safely in the dishwasher if you don’t know what Type of Clay you have. For that reason, we have put this together so that you can identify the clay used in your dinnerware.
Usually, earthenware will have a thick, heavy, and rustic appearance. Typically, hand-painted designs are earthenware ceramics. Low fire glazes have come a long way. Now, most glazed earthenware can go in the dishwasher safely, but you may still want to check with the manufacturer.
Earthenware has a texture that is coarser and more porous than porcelain or stoneware because of the lower firing temperatures. If the earthenware isn’t covered properly with glaze, don’t submerge in a watery sink too long because it will absorb the water.
Firing stoneware at a high temperature offers greater durability than earthenware. It will show more signs of vitrification, or glass forming, to add to strength. In addition, stoneware has a more opaque and thick appearance than porcelain.
Some of the glaze textures with stoneware include shiny, satin, and matte. Stoneware contains different minerals that make it a stronger clay. Stoneware doesn’t have the same refined and delicate feel as porcelain, but some A and B mixes come close.
Usually, porcelain feels lighter and in general has more of a delicate appearance than stoneware or earthenware. You can spot porcelain dinnerware because of the fine texture. They fire porcelain at higher temperatures, as a result, it exhibits durable and non-porous characteristics.
Porcelain looks thinner than the other two clays. You can usually differentiate it from the other two because of its upscale appearance. Many people only break out the fine China on special occasions.
Detergent Chemicals that are Harmful to Pottery
Glazes play an important part in vitrifying your pottery. There are things to be aware of with glazes in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, the biggest danger comes from how it can etch the glaze off your ceramics. Exercise care with the soaps used because harsher soaps can ruin the finish.
Some of the harsh chemicals to avoid in dishwasher soaps include:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
These chemicals are harsh on the glazes. Also, beware of low-fire glazes because the dishwasher often etches (removes the glaze) with time. The higher temperatures have the potential to crack the glaze also.
Well-designed glazes shouldn’t have too much problem in the dishwasher because it seals the dish and makes it more dishwasher friendly. In some cases, however, even the best ceramic may have been fired at the wrong temperature, which can cause issues with the glaze.
How to Identify Pottery That’s Safe for the Dishwasher
Generally speaking, thick ceramics or shiny ceramics do fine in the dishwasher. Anything built for everyday purposes will do fine. However, remain vigilant with ceramics that look decorative because the harsh interior environment of a dishwasher may not be ideal.
Pottery with underglaze may not be dishwasher safe unless it is protected by a clear glaze fired over it. Glazes used over ceramics protect your dishes because it makes them dishwasher safe. It is best to handwash your unprotected underglaze pieces.
Expert Tip: When in doubt, the top rack of the dishwasher isn’t as aggressive as the bottom. Most dishwashers put the heating element on the bottom, which makes the top rack safer. Earthenware dishes especially do better on the top rack. Understand maybe that some dishwashers will also use more powerful jets than others.
Pottery that should Avoid the Dishwasher.
I would not recommend putting Pottery that has Overglazes like gold luster and mother of pearl in the dishwasher because it may damage the surface. It does depend on the type of detergent used and the temperature of the water. Harsher detergents will deteriorate and dull the finish. As such, I would recommend hand-washing with gentle soap, and the luster won’t wash off.
The danger particularly exists with earthenware because of the low-fire temperatures. The lower temperature can fail to properly verify the piece, which can cause damage while inside the dishwasher. At higher temperatures, porcelain and stoneware have greater durability.
Most handmade mugs can go in the dishwasher. However, be aware of the glaze and firing temperature because this can influence if you can put it in the dishwasher. As a rule, if you are unsure and want your Handmade mugs to last longer, it is best to hand wash them.
Is unglazed stoneware dishwasher safe?
It would be advisable to hand wash unglazed stoneware over putting it in the dishwasher. Stoneware pottery is non-porous and fired at higher temperatures. This may help it in the dishwasher even while unglazed. Still, most people advise against putting any unglazed pottery in the dishwasher.
Bowls, plates, and mugs that have no foot ring have no glaze on the bottom so the clay is more exposed. For those pieces, handwashing would be preferred.
Most Pottery can be put in the dishwasher, but when in doubt, hand wash it. For example, suppose you have a prized piece of Pottery, such as a family heirloom. In that case, you may want to hand wash it because it preserves its original appearance. Soft ceramics, ceramics with a bright appearance, and delicate pieces should also be hand washed to prevent damage.
Any pottery not overly water-absorbent can usually do fine in the dishwasher because it won’t waterlog and weaken. Most glazed Pottery won’t experience a problem when placed into the dishwasher. You can also check for a symbol underneath the Pottery with water drops over a glass or plate. This indicates that you can use it in the dishwasher safely.