I've made a few mistakes with antiques over the years and one of the biggest was trying to clean ironstone with bleach. With vintage pieces, there's always some crazing (fine crackle) of the glaze and that allows entry into the clay underneath and damages it. Ironstone is not made with a high fired clay like porcelain and the porous clay is very susceptible to damage.
Although I don't mind some marks on vintage ironstone, this plate is used to serve food and always looked dirty. ~
I could have soaked the plate in straight 3% hydrogen peroxide, found in groceries and pharmacy stores. It would have taken several bottles to cover the plate and that gets rather expensive.
Instead, I used denture cleaning tablets. A box of ninety tablets was about $4 at Giant Tiger. In a 4 X 8" by 1" deep plastic container, I dissolved 3 of the tablets in hot water. By the time the tablets had dissolved, the water had cooled enough to not open the crazing more and I submerged the plate in the solution. ~
I left it in there for about an hour. You can see the stuff that came off the plate in the water. ~
I could give the plate a second soaking to see if the last bits will come out, but I think a few marks are charming on a piece that dates back to the early 1800's.
Here she is after her Sunday bath! ~
I've safely used denture tablets on transferware, crocks and porcelain. It works really well on removing water/foliage marks from the inside of flower vases, too! I suppose you could actually use it to clean dentures but how much fun would that be?
Don't pass up those badly marked ironstone pieces when you are out thrifting. They can look almost as lovely as they did when they made their debut in England in 1813!
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