Carr China Collectors' Club


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Collecting Carr China sometimes brings with it the challenge of cleaning away decades of grime and abuse.  Luckily, our prized pottery is quality made and worth the extra time and elbow grease sometimes required.  With the right supplies, some patience and a little effort, you can take years off of vitrified china.

Offered below are some of the tried methods of caring for and cleaning your Carr China.  My own efforts, combined with those of my friends at the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network and Jeanie Klamm Wilby, in her book Decorative American Pottery & Whiteware, are summarized below.  Please do take time to test your piece carefully to ensure it can stand up to the rigors of cleaning!

Good luck and do share your experiences or tips with us!

And please, if you are successful in removing stains from known cracks or chips, please don't misrepresent your "new" piece for resale!  Please keep our collecting an honest and ethical business!

The Basics

Black Mars and Spots:  If you haven't taken a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to the bottom of a marred cup or plate, prepare to be amazed!  It will literally wipe years away before your eyes.

Paper Labels:  If a good long soak in hot water doesn't do the trick, try putting a warm blow dryer to the dish and heating up the adhesive.  With some patience, it should eventually slide right off.

Rust Stains:  A little Brasso on a rag has been known to work wonders in removing stubborn orange rust stains.  Just be sure to avoid any gilding (gold or silver!) as it can remove it from your piece.

Sticky Residue #1:  A little rubbing alcohol will release most sticky spots that were left by adhesive tags or unidentified substances.  A little on a cotton ball or rag should do the trick!

Stick Residue #2:  Those unidentifiable sticky spots on a piece of Carr China can drive you nuts!  Try a little Goo Gone on a rag and you'll be amazed with the results.  For very stubborn spots, you may want to soak it in Goo Gone and then gently take a flat razor to get underneath the spot and lift it off!

For the Experienced (or Determined) Cleaner

Older pieces which have surface cracks that have yellowed can be made to appear less unattractive by lightening the stained areas.  Most often, the yellowing in the cracks, grooves and manufacturer marks are the result of microscoping food particles.  To successfully clean it requires the use of a cleaner that attacks the organic matter and removes it.  For the average collector, that requires a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner.

OxyClean can be used to lighten, lift and even remove organic stains on Carr China.  I have made a strong bath to soak pieces in by putting stained dishes in a 5-gallon bucket, adding 2-3 cups of powdered OxyClean and then filling it up with hot water.  Leave it in a place where you'll forget about it for a few days (the longer the better - it won't harm your dishes!).  You'll see amazing results!

Hydrogen Peroxide of at least 30% strength can also be used.  You can purchase it by the gallon at a beauty supply store in a stronger strength than you may find at your local grocery, drug or mass retailer.

Bath Method:  One way to use hydrogen peroxide is to make a full-strength bath.  Completely cover the stained dish with hydrogen peroxide in an open container (never sealed!) and leave it to soak for a few days.  Follow this with the heat process explained below.  Please take care to put your bath out of the reach of children or pets, as hydrogen peroxide is a dangerous chemical!

Wrap Method:  You can also soak cotton strips in hydrogen peroxide and completely wrap your piece with these strips, followed by plastic wrap.  After a few days, unwrap the piece.  You will see the cotton has absorbed the yellowish looking organic matter from the piece.  You may need to repeat this process a few times until the cotton no longer turns yellow.  Follow this with the heat process explained below. 

Heat Process:  Once you have completed the bath or wrap method, you must expose the piece to heat to complete the process.  You can simply place the item in the sun, or in the oven at 150 degrees for about an hour.  The heat forces out the remaining organic matter, as well as rids the piece of remaining chemical residue.  The item must completely dry out to avoid damage to any surface upon which it is placed.

Please take care when working with this caustic chemical, which can be explosive if not handled properly.  Rubber gloves are a must and it is recommended you cover all surfaces with plastic or newspaper to minimize damage from spills.  To learn more, please buy and read Ms. Wilby's book.

Caring For Your Pieces

Your Carr China collection will appreciate the extra care you take to protect your pieces for future enjoyment.  Here are some tips you may want to try:

Car Wax:  A light polish with automotive Car Wax will add a shine and glisten to a piece of vitrified china.  Be sure to use only a light coat on a clean piece and remove all residue as you polish.  This is best for display pieces and not to be used on everyday wares.

Coffee Filters:  Placing a coffee filter or two between stacked plates will reduce the risk of utensil-like marks, mars or chips.  This is a less-costly way to protect versus china pads or felt circles.  Explore the available sizes sold commercially for your larger pieces!

Felt pads:  A stick-on felt pad on the bottom of a heavy piece will protect not only the item, but your furniture, too!  The same inside the lid of a tea pot, mustard pot or other lidded piece will prevent the accidental chip!

Museum Wax:  If you display a piece where it can be bumped or knocked around, consider purchasing museum wax to affix it to your shelf or furniture.  You can purchase it here.

Plate Hangers or Stands:  I am not a fan of plate hangers, having seen too many pieces chipped or damanged by improper use.  If you must use a wire plate hanger, please purchase ones with plastic tips or cover the metal tips with plastic tubing.  For plate stands, the extra that comes with using it in combination with museum wax is will worth the effort!