Taking care of superyacht tableware
Last updated: 03/10/2018
Unfortunately, scratches and breakages often come with the territory when serving, washing and storing fine tableware on board a superyacht.
With storage space truly at a premium on a superyacht, it takes some careful planning and innovative thinking to ensure that plates, crockery and cutlery are properly stored and cared for. No yacht is complete without full beautiful tableware sets, after all.
As such, Yachting Pages spoke to the team Harlequin London who provided essential tips for storing and maintaining luxury tableware and glassware on board.
Looking after tableware on board on a superyacht
It’s generally advised that all china, crystal and silverware is washed by hand using a mild dish soap, but, if sink space is at a premium, or is in high demand at the time of washing, the dishwasher can often be used if the correct precautions are taken.
Sophie Burn from Harlequin London warned, “Generally speaking, the older your tableware, the less likely it is to last the dishwasher cycle, but your tableware supplier or curator should be able to advise on caring for your chosen pieces at the time of purchase or panic!”
How to store and restore tableware
Looking after china dinnerware
Fine by its very nature, it can sometimes be very difficult to ensure fine china and porcelain tableware stands the test of time on board.
Sophie said, “Unfortunately, breakages come with the territory when it comes to using, washing and storing delicate china and porcelain dinnerware. Consider carefully how to store the china. China pieces shouldn’t be touching during storage to avoid unnecessary damage: Invest in plate dividers (fabric flannels, coffee filters and napkins also work) to help prolong the life of your delicate pieces. These protect dinnerware from scratching and chipping when stored in cupboards and sideboards. Made-to-measure furniture can be commissioned to make such storage much less of a headache.
“If china does become damaged, act fast. It’s good practice to order replacements as soon as possible, as sadly many manufacturers do sometimes discontinue designs making it difficult to order replacements to make a complete set, or to add to a set. If budget allows, it may be a good idea to order a few spares from the off. “
If a dishwasher is used for cleaning china dinnerware, use a gentle cycle on a low heat. Detergents with lemon additives should not be used regularly, as these are acidic and can wear the finish. Furthermore:
- Don’t stack or slide china dinnerware on top of one another during the washing process
- Don’t wash with aluminium utensils, as these can mark the china
- Don’t get overzealous with silver cleaner when polishing platinum trim, as it can be rubbed off altogether
Laura Clemson, a professional tableware supplier, advised that hairline cracks in china dinnerware can be repaired by covering the affected area with milk and brought to a simmer for an hour, as milk contains a protein called casein, which forms a natural plastic type glue which seeps into cracks when heated often repairing them.
She also advises that a 50/50 mix of table salt and household vinegar can be used to remove stains from china dishes. Simply soak dishes in the solution for a few minutes before washing. Alternatively, rinse stained china with vinegar, before applying a baking soda and water paste, gently rubbing before rinsing.
Taking care of crystal and glassware
It may seem obvious, but it’s vital to ensure that crystal glasses are packed and padded carefully in order to ensure that they are not touching each other durin storage, and there is no room for shifting. It’s not recommended to store glasses upside down as pressure is placed on the delicate rim and may cause chips.
Sophie said, "Crystal should be regularly hand washed in warm soapy water and then dried by hand using good quality linen cloths. Use only a small amount of detergent as it can leave a residue. Adding vinegar is even better, as it will keep glasses shine and streak free."
Glassware and dishwashers do not often mix well: If glasses are washed too cold, they often come out with a residual layer of food and fats. Too hot or too much detergent and they may suffer scratching and cloudiness. On the other hand, too little detergent and you will again be left with a hard water of food protein residue. If it's necessary to use a dishwasher for washing your glassware, it’s recommended to use minimal detergent at a low heat, as any cloudiness can often be removed with a five-minute vinegar soak or professional chemical cleaning process.
Keeping stainless and silverware shining
Silver will tarnish when exposed to the environment, but as a general rule, the more it is actually used and handled, the less need there will be to get out the polish. It’s oxygen that causes this tarnishing, and so it’s recommended that anti-tarnish cutlery rolls are used if silverware is stored away and used infrequently. This is particularly relevant on board when silver is often exposed to the salty sea air. If silver is heavily tarnished, be sure to use a reputable agent to clean it before putting it away. Bear in mind that every time silver is cleaned using a cleaning agent, a small layer of silver is removed from each piece, so this should be carefully managed.
You should never leave food sitting on silverware, as it can cause permanent staining and damage. Rinse cutlery as soon as it has been used, especially if you are expecting it to sit in the dishwasher. Use a small amount of detergent, again without lemon or citrus additives. Yellow silverware is caused by too much detergent.
Stainless steel cutlery and silverware should also always be kept separate to avoid scratching. And, if silverware is old, Laura advises that knives are not washed in the dishwasher, as heat can melt or dissolve the resin holding the blade and handle together.
Specialising in silverware reconditioning, Laura Clemson said, “If your silverware is scratched or damaged, the only thing that you can do is try to gently polish out any marks using a silver polish like ‘Goddards’. Never use anything too abrasive and treat your silverware gently. If this doesn’t work then your silverware needs an industrial polish or re-plating.
“If you have sterling (solid) silver, then these pieces can undergo an industrial polish, which will bring it back to as ‘as new’ condition – this is a process that can also be carried out on stainless steel pieces.
“A word of warning is that you must make sure that whomever is carrying out your industrial silver polish will also polish the knife blades. Some companies don’t do this, so you are left with beautifully shining silverware with scratched blades! If you have plated silverware which is scratched or the plating rubbing thin, then these can be replated, which again will bring your silverware back to an ‘as new’ condition.”