Guests Coming Over? Here's Our Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Dinnerware Right

Houzz posted on 29 December

To make a well-informed decision on the type of dinnerware you should buy, it’s important to know how one is different from the other, and what makes each of them unique. The four types of dinnerware that you will encounter most often are earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china. Let’s get started on each, and the correct way to use them {so they last longer}.


One of the earliest forms of pottery, earthenware goes back approximately 9000 years and is still widely used for dining and decorative purposes. It is made of unrefined clay, and can be produced at temperatures as low as 600 degrees centigrade, to create a non-porous, glass-like surface.

This tableware creates a welcoming dinner table for casual dinner parties. Known for its artisanal look and feel, it is also the easiest on your wallet. Earthenware is thick and heavy, but you can often get away with a crack or two on these pieces, since they’re often believed to enhance their special character.

Care: Earthenware is microwave- and oven-safe on medium and low settings only, as it heats up faster than other ceramics or glass. To be super safe, it is always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions before heating any dinnerware.

Sudden temperature changes in the oven will eventually make your earthenware crack due to thermal shocking, which means that when temperature changes rapidly, the oven shelf on which the dish rests and its surfaces become much hotter much more quickly than the earthen material inside. This causes stress, which may result in cracking or breaking of the piece. To avoid this, always place your earthenware dishes in the centre of a cold oven and slowly increase its temperature.

For cleaning, it is best to mix some baking soda in water and soak the earthen pots and plates in the mixture overnight. Avoid using soap or detergent to clean them as those will soak into the pores of the clay and then percolate into your food the next time you use them.

LBB recommends: Casetta Living, Garde Hvalsoe, Dilli Haat and The Clay Company.


Fired at higher temperatures, stoneware is known for its great durability. Its glaze is solely for ornamental purposes and adds to its appearance, as do the different colours and finishes it is available in. Stoneware is not as cheap as earthenware but costs less than bone china or porcelain.

Care: Caring for stoneware is similar to looking after earthenware, except that most pieces are oven- and microwave-safe and can be considered for long-term use. However, you must still avoid sudden temperature changes, to increase their longevity. Avoid cleaning hot stoneware with cold water, or lifting hot stoneware with a wet cloth, again to avoid thermal shocking. Use the same precautions for cleaning stoneware as you would for earthenware.

LBB recommends: Happily Ever Etched, Lifetime Brands, Rayden Design and Nicobar.

Clothing Stores

Shop 79 & 80, Above Diva Spiced Restaurant, Meharchand Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi

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More durable than both earthenware and stoneware, porcelain is fired at extremely high temperatures for a non-porous, glass-like surface. Fine to touch and light in weight, it can be easily used every day if handled carefully. If bone china is too expensive for you, porcelain is an excellent, more reasonably-priced option. However, it is priced higher than earthenware and stoneware. Porcelain is usually not painted or marked with other colours, as its main attraction is its white colour.

Care: Most porcelain pieces are microwave {and oven} safe. Try washing the pieces in a plastic bowl instead of a hard surface to avoid breakage. Bleach or any other abrasive cleaners must not be used, as they can damage the metallic elements of your dinnerware. A mild detergent is the safest option. Always air dry.

LBB recommends: Villeroy & Boch, Camerich Los Angeles, Noritake and Fabindia.

Home Décor Stores

B-58, Defence Colony, New Delhi

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Bone china

Bone china is also fired at extremely high temperatures, which explains its high durability, chip resistance and incredible strength. It is the most expensive of the lot, which is why we usually end up using it only for special occasions but it’s actually absolutely safe to use every day.

Care: Most china that is twenty years or older must be hand-washed to prevent any damage to the patterns on it. The key to hand-washing bone china is washing it as soon as you can after using it, especially if you are serving acidic foods, which can cause more damage than other food types. Use gentle cleaning tools, such as a soft sponge or plastic brush, along with warm water and mild liquid detergent to avoid scratches. Air dry your china pieces or use a soft towel to wipe them down.

When taking your dinnerware out of storage, you may notice some discolouration of its gold or platinum banding, but a gentle wash in soapy water will renew it to its former beauty. When you store the china, place cloth napkins or paper doilies between the plates.

LBB recommends: Dreamy Whites and Good Earth.

Home Décor Stores

Shop 9, Ground, 1st & 2nd Floor, Khan Market, New Delhi

Disclaimer: Consult the manufacturer’s instructions to determine whether a product is microwave or oven safe, and for its ideal heating limits. 

This recommendation was first posted on houzz.