Before & After: A Cure for Dishwasher Dullness

This weekend I was lucky enough to stumble upon the last pieces I needed to complete my Franciscan Madeira dinnerware set—eight dessert plates! I found them at Goodwill for a mere $0.79 each. Of course, they were dirty, dingy and covered in marks from silverware, but I was not going to let this stand in the way of having at least one complete set of dishes. So, home with me they came and into the sink they went to wash off the grime. Or, at least, what I thought was grime…

Plates_Before

Alas, the dinginess noted was not dirt at all. Instead, these had lived a hard life in the dishwasher. Unfortunately decades of being sand blasted with super heated water, harsh detergents and particles of food had left their surfaces etched, dulled and stained. I find so many dishes in this condition and usually have no choice but to throw them out. They’re ruined. Kaput. Dunzo. Or are they? Suddenly a thought struck me: I polish plastics, metals and even varnish back to a glossy sheen when they get damaged. Could I polish a dinner plate? Turns out, YES YOU CAN! Here’s how I did it.

Supplies

All you need is a high quality plastic polish such as Hut Ultra Gloss or Novus 2, and a soft rag. Simply squirt a little polish onto the plate and rub vigorously in a circular motion with the cloth. This will not only remove mineral deposits and hazing, but it also takes out silverware marks. Once you’ve buffed it thoroughly, use the clean side of the rag or another cloth (microfiber cloths work well for this step) and buff it to a high shine. If the result isn’t quite perfect, repeat the steps above. Be sure to thoroughly hand wash the plate before use.

Before

Before

After

After

As you can see, the difference is night and day—I can’t tell the difference between these and the mint ones I already had in the cupboard. Voila. Eight plates spared from the trashcan. It feels so good to save them and the best part is, this took less than five minutes each. Of all the restoration tips I’ve accidentally discovered, this is definitely one of my favorites. But it should be noted that this might not work on pieces with applied decoration such as paint, especially if the paint has faded or severely deteriorated and it won’t repair crazing. This technique will also completely remove 24K gold or sterling silver designs applied over glaze—but then, so will the evil dishwasher.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Victor
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…do you think this would work on glass, in particular glass that has a “sickness” to it? I found that Whink Rust Remover, applied with a q-tip, liberal rubbing with a cloth, and washing gets rust and aluminum corrosion stains out of glass great. But this process can dull certain glass, and does nothing for sickness. I’ve yet to be brave enough to resort to an acid bath or Teflon-bead tumble polishing, the only other options.

    • Austin
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I did think about that, I just need to find something to try it on first. Plastic polishes and furniture rubbing compounds might work, but then they are designed for materials that are much softer than glass. There is the possibility of creating noticeable scratches in glass rather than smoothing, so it would be wise to practice on something of little value first.

      Whink is one of my favorite products for removing rust. On etching-prone hard surfaces you might try using all-metal polish like Weimans. It doesn’t always work on rust, but I often use it for removing metal stains from dinnerware and it’s pretty gentle, just don’t rub too hard as it is abrasive.

      For readers who may be unfamiliar with this, glass “sickness” refers to transparent glass which, over time, has developed a clouding or surface discoloration that does not wash off. Usually it is caused by surface etching and is sometimes compounded by chemical deposits on the glass.

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