When the last slice of pie has been enjoyed, and everyone around the table is happy and full, it’s time for the real family tradition or bonding activity to start – cleaning the dishes.

While most dishes can go straight into the dishwasher, there are still some that need additional tender loving care. If you are using fine china, it’s important to carefully wash them. Here’s how to do it.

Prepare yourself: Remove rings, bracelets, watches and long necklaces. While dish duty won’t damage most jewelry, the goal is to remove anything that might harm the fine china. Stones and metals can nick, scratch or scuff china’s delicate surface.

Prepare the sink: Line the inside of the sink with a soft tea towel to reduce clinking and chipping on the bottom and sides of the sink. As well, position the faucet neck off to the right slightly, so you can easily move large plates into and out of the sink without accidently hitting the faucet neck and spout.

Add water: Fill the sink with warm water. Never use hot water to clean china, as a drastic change in temperature can cause it to crack. Add a few squirts of mild dish soap and a tablespoon of white vinegar if the dishes are extra dirty. White vinegar will help remove caked on food more efficiently.

Start washing: Work in small batches and clean a few pieces of china at a time. Lower each dish into the soapy water slowly. Instead of an abrasive brush or scrubber, use a microfibre cloth to gently rub away food particles. Use an extra light touch on metal rims and raised details.

Drip dry: Let china air-dry in a non-metal drying rack. Use a clean microfibre cloth to lightly dry any left over water.

Put it away: Store china safely once it’s completely dry. Place doilies or white linen napkins between the plates and bowls to prevent chipping.