- These cleaning procedures are provided for information only, as examples
of what has worked for us in the past. Use at your own risk!
- Do not use any of these solutions on pottery that is in poor shape,
especially if it is excessively chipped, cracked, or crazed.
- These cleaning methods have been used on high-quality pottery with
solid glazes such as McCoy (except Scandia and other lines that don't
have a solid, shiny glaze), Brush, American Bisque, Shawnee, Morton,
Red Wing (except brush-ware), etc. They are not recommended for pottery
that is more porous, such as Stangl (the chemicals quickly seep down
under the glaze and soak in) or terra cotta.
- Try cleaning in a small, inconspicuous spot first. Always use as little
cleaning solution as possible.
- If the pottery has cold paint, any of the cleaning methods described,
even detergent and water, can remove or degrade it. Be careful to clean
around the paint so as not to damage it, and don't leave the pottery
soaking in anything (even water).
- Don't let the unglazed feet or runners of the pottery soak in the
cleaning solutions. We've learned the hard way with bleach; there are
faded spots on the carpet where we set a piece of pottery that had been
previously cleaned with bleach (oops!).
- Always follow instructions and cautions on the cleaning product labels.
It's a good idea to wear gloves even if the label doesn't require it
so you can clean in the hottest water possible.
- Of course, don't use any of these chemicals on anything that you might
eat or drink from!
- First, try washing with hot soapy water. Use a toothbrush to get into
- Mild lime deposits (water spots) can sometimes be removed with effervescent
denture cleaner. Fill pot with water and drop in one or two tablets.
- For more stubborn lime deposits, use CLR or LimeAway.
Pour a little (full-strength) into the pot. Use an old toothbrush to
move the cleaner up to the spots that need it.
- Rust stains can be removed with Rust Magic. Clean as above.
- The adhesive residue left behind by labels will sometimes come off
after soaking in hot soapy water. For quicker removal, however, apply
a little citrus-based cleaner such as Goo Gone to the sticky
area, wait a few minutes, then rub off the residue with a clean dry
rag. We have even used a citrus oil air freshener spray for the same
- Latex paint spots (I don't know why, but we find paint overspray on
lots of pottery) can be peeled off with your fingernail after soaking
in hot soapy water.
- Planters that have florist's sponge glued to the bottom are a real
pain. I've used fingernail polish remover (with acetone) and fingernail
polish thinner (with toluene) to dissolve the foam.
- We have used a 50/50 bleach and water solution to fade the discolorations
(dirt) around stress cracks. It works great (note caution #6!), but
we can't be sure that the bleach won't cause some degradation to the
clay long-term. Use at your own risk!
- Although a dish brush or old toothbrush is our cleaning implement
of choice, we have been known to use a non-metallic abrasive pad (like
those used to scrub pots & pans) on especially hard-to-remove spots
without scratching the glaze. Be careful and don't scrub too hard!