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What Is the Proper Way to Display China Dishes?

Beautiful china dishes
china set image by Goran Petak from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • China dishes
  • Plate stands
  • Buffet, hutch or china cabinet
  • Dish soap
  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Tissue paper
  • Rubber cement (optional)

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Mix and match china patters on display carefully. China can be beautifully displayed together, or apart, but too many patterns can lead to a cluttered display.


  • Be particularly careful with china plates with metallic paint. These dishes should never go into the dishwasher or microwave, as this could tarnish or otherwise damage the dishes.

For many, owning a beautiful set of china dishes can be a source of pride in the home. Whether your china dishes are a family heirloom or simply a set of beautiful china recently purchased, china dishes are fragile and must be handled and displayed with care. Improper handling, incorrect storage and lack of care when displaying china dishes can result in chipped or broken pieces, so knowing just how china should be handled and displayed is important to maintaining your collection for years to come.

Wash your china dishes in warm, soapy water before adding them to the intended display. Never put china dishes in the dishwasher, as this can damage fragile materials. Dry china carefully with a soft cotton cloth and stack largest plates on the bottom, well away from the edge of counters and tables to avoid accidents.

Decide what pieces will be displayed and what will be stored away. When choosing your display pieces, consider large plates and serving platters, gravy boats, teapots, and cups and saucers. Always display your most beautiful, prominent pieces. Take into consideration the amount of space you have to store dishes and be certain the china won't be crowded, as this can lead to damaged dishes.

Consider where you will display your china dishes. The most secure place to display china dishes is in a china cabinet, or buffet with hutch, behind glass. If there are animals, such as cats, in the house where the china will be displayed, choosing a secure place for china dishes becomes even more significant. Open-face buffets, with grooved shelves, are also an ideal solution for displaying china dishes but are not as secure as those with glass doors.

Organize display pieces with the largest items in the back. Plates and serving platters, for example will always be displayed behind smaller items such as cups and saucers, gravy boats and salt and pepper shakers. China dishes should never, under any circumstances, be supporting other china dishes unless it's laying on a flat surface. Take care that china dishes are not rubbing up against one another, as this could damage the dishes.

Stand plates up on grooved shelves, such as those in china hutches, or by using plate stands. Metal plate stands are sturdier than their plastic counterparts are, but plastic plate stands are sufficient for displaying smaller pieces such as dinner and salad plates. Plate stands come in a variety of sizes and colors, including clear plastic, to complement any china collection.

Use rubber cement, a non-toxic adhesive material, on the back of plates to adhere them to plate stands for extra protection. This is particularly useful for plates being displayed on open-face displays such as bookshelves or buffets without glass doors, and in areas prone to earthquake. Rubber cement is easy to remove and leaves no adhesive residue on plates, making it ideal for securing precious materials such as china dishes.

Store the remaining china dishes securely in a nearby cabinet or hutch. Protect china dishes by using a piece of tissue paper, such as that meant for gift wrapping, between each piece. Also, consider sheets of bubble paper, which is particularly useful for mugs and bowls that are normally stacked one inside the other.

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