Are My Ceramics Dishwasher Safe?

One of the most common questions I get as both a ceramic artist and shop owner is CAN I TOSS MY MUG IN THE DISHWASHER? The short answer is YES! But no tossing please! Ready for the long version?!

We expect our ceramics to be well loved and used often. For this reason, I am careful to select pottery that is a mid to high fire clay body and highly vitrified. In other words, it's a special formulation of clay that can be heated to high enough temperatures that the clay body starts to fuse together into a glasslike, water-tight material. If the clay is not vitrified because it is either accidentally underfired or it is a low-fire clay body formulation, it will remain porous and absorb water like a sponge. This will cause a multitude of problems including internal mold (seen on the bottom of the mug) or even microwave explosions as the water boils and steam tries to quickly escape. To avoid this, potters will often glaze the ENTIRE mug of a low-fire clay body, including the base, to prevent water from entering and instruct users to briefly hand wash. (This is an unneeded step if the clay is a mid to high fire clay body and vitrifies.)

But will the dishwasher hurt the glaze? For the most part, no. However, certain matte glazes, underglazes, will slowly start to erode over a very long period of time since they are not protected under a gloss. (And I mean years.)  At my house we still dishwash all of our pottery and I am just now starting to see the tiniest bit of wear on my 7 year old mugs. But if this is a concern to you I would recommend a regular gloss or satin glazed mug which will be able to hold its own against dishwasher etching.

PHEW! That was a lot of pottery talk. Big takeaway is that you can rest assured that we play it safe by offering only the strongest and most durable options at Mantel. So if your mug has a "handwash recommended" note attached to its listing, it is due to the delicacy of the construction, not the material itself. We of course recommend treating your handmade ceramics with care at all times, even when loading in the dishwasher. NO TOSSING allowed:)





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