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Handmade Pottery and the Dishwasher Dilemma: To Wash or Not to Wash?

Handmade pottery holds a special place in the hearts of artisans and collectors alike. The unique textures, intricate designs, and personal touch make each piece a work of art. Yet, when it comes to the practicalities of everyday use, questions arise about whether these delicate creations can withstand the rigors of a modern dishwasher. In this blog post, we'll explore the considerations surrounding the age-old question: Can handmade pottery go in the dishwasher?

The Beauty of Handmade Pottery

Handmade pottery is a labor of love, often crafted with dedication and skill that imbue each piece with its own distinct personality. The tactile appeal and aesthetic charm of these creations make them a cherished addition to any home. However, it's important to strike a balance between preserving their beauty and practical functionality.

Understanding the Risks

Handmade pottery typically undergoes firing at lower temperatures compared to mass-produced, commercially available ceramics. This can result in a slightly more porous structure, which may make it more vulnerable to the intense heat, water pressure, and abrasive detergents used in dishwashers. The risks associated with dishwashing handmade pottery include:

  • Cracking and Warping: Sudden temperature changes and high heat can lead to cracks or warping in the pottery, compromising its structural integrity.

  • Glaze Damage: Harsh detergents and the high-pressure water jets in dishwashers may affect the glaze, leading to fading, chipping, or even flaking.

  • Color Fading: Vibrant colors and intricate designs might fade over time due to prolonged exposure to the dishwasher's heat and water.

  • Factors to Consider

Before deciding whether to subject your handmade pottery to the dishwasher, consider the following factors:

Pottery Type: The type of clay and firing temperature used can impact the pottery's resilience to dishwasher use. Stoneware and high-fired pottery are generally more dishwasher-friendly than low-fired earthenware.

Glaze Quality: High-quality glazes that have been properly fired and tested are more likely to withstand dishwasher cycles.

Dishwasher Settings: Modern dishwashers often come with adjustable settings, such as a delicate or pottery setting, which could be gentler on your handmade pieces.

Age and Condition: Older or more delicate pieces may be more susceptible to damage in the dishwasher.

Frequency of Use: Reserve dishwasher use for pieces that are frequently used and require regular cleaning.

Taking Care of Handmade Pottery

If you do choose to put your handmade pottery in the dishwasher, here are some tips to minimize the risks:

Choose a Gentle Cycle: Opt for a delicate or pottery-specific setting with lower water pressure and temperature.

Use Mild Detergents: Use mild, phosphate-free detergents to protect the glaze and colors.

Position Wisely: Ensure the pottery is placed securely in the dishwasher, away from direct contact with other items.

Avoid Overcrowding: Leave enough space between items to prevent chipping or rubbing.

Handwashing Option: Consider handwashing for particularly delicate or cherished pieces to ensure their longevity.

The decision to put handmade pottery in the dishwasher ultimately depends on the individual piece, its characteristics, and your willingness to take calculated risks. While some pottery can withstand dishwasher use with proper care and precautions, others may fare better with gentle handwashing. By weighing the pros and cons, understanding the nature of your pottery, and following recommended guidelines, you can strike a balance between showcasing your handmade treasures and preserving their beauty for years to come.

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