How to Store China to Protect Your Most Treasured Pieces

When the big event is over and it's time to put everything away, take care to ensure your china collection stays table-ready.

The holidays are prime time to get out the "good" china. Whether you invested in your own collection or inherited a set from a family member, these treasured pieces make setting the table feel extra special. But once guests have gone home, putting it all away isn't as simple as stacking everything in a cabinet or stowing it in a cardboard box. Fine china is more fragile than regular dinnerware and often includes intricate details, like gold rimming, hand-painted patterns, and delicate glazes. To keep your collection safe and ready for the next special occasion, follow these china storage tips in between each use.

china being stored in boxes
Carson Downing

1. Choose a low-traffic storage spot.

You don't want to jostle past your fine china every time you reach for a cereal bowl. Choose a storage spot that's out of the way to reduce the risk of damaging the pieces during your daily routine. A separate storage cabinet or hutch is ideal, but if you don't have one, a spare shelf in your linen closet or a plastic bin in the basement can work fine. Just pay attention to temperature. "The cold or heat in attics and garages can crack the glazes," says Julie Robbins, product specialist at Replacements, Ltd., a favorite source for buying and repairing vintage china.

2. Separate and stack china safely.

Wherever you decide to store china, take care to stack items safely. "Always place a coffee filter or piece of felt between pieces so they don't scratch each other," Robbins says. And never stack plates or bowls more than 10 high. "The weight can actually damage pieces on the bottom," Robbins says.

3. Store pieces in sturdy containers.

Instead of flimsy cardboard boxes, pack china in sturdy, structured containers that aren't easily dented or crushed. Opt for hard-sided cases to protect dishes on all sides, like these round ones from The Container Store ($40). A heavy-duty banker's box ($34 for 4, Target) or sturdy gift box can also work. Be sure to line the interior with felt for extra cushion.

vintage dinnerware plates
Courtney Apple

4. Display china with care.

Think twice about displaying treasured heirlooms on open shelves, which leave your china susceptible to collecting dust or getting knocked over. A glass-front cabinet or hutch is one of the best ways to protect china from dust while still showing it off. To display plates upright, fit the edges into the built-in grooves on shelves, or purchase individual stands for each plate ($10-$17, The Container Store). Don't crowd the shelves to prevent pieces from bumping into each other.

5. Protect teacups.

Teacups might look pretty when hung up on hooks, but this puts excess pressure on the handle, which is often the vessel's weakest point. Additionally, although storing cups upside down reduces dust buildup, this can easily result in knicks or scratches around the rim. For the safest storage method, display teacups right side up on a shelf or pack them away carefully with plenty of cushioning.

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