Tell-tale signs you need new dishes – 5 reasons to replace your existing set

Dishes with any of these five issues should never be used for hosting, experts warn

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Our dishes, both our every day and our seasonal sets, go through a lot. Whether they are used around the house every day and subjected to the dishwasher or are left in storage for months collecting dust before being used once or twice a year, they can easily become a little worse for wear.

While we may try to persevere, hosting experts have suggested there are five telltale signs you need new dishes both to maintain food safety and impress your guests whenever you host.

These are the signs you need a new dinnerware set and why it is so important to switch them out.

Signs you need new dishes

Much like the signs it’s time to replace your pots and pans, broken or old dishes should not be ignored. Not only do they look bad, but they could be a health risk, too, if they are chipped or cracked.

Dinner table

(Image credit: Burleigh)

1. It is chipped

Chipped plates don’t just look bad, they can be dangerous too, warns Jamila Musayeva, etiquette expert and international lifestyle creator, author of The Art of Entertaining At Home:

‘When your dinnerware is chipped or has damages done from frequent washing it must be replaced for purposes of safety. If it is chipped but is very dear to you, you might consider restoring it or just using it for decoration,’ she suggests. ‘Otherwise, if it does suit your personal home aesthetics or does not bring you “joy” as famously Marie Kondo says, you can choose to replace it.’

If a lot of your plates are chipped, consider trying out some new ways of organizing plates in a kitchen to help keep them better protected.

2. It is cracked

Cracked plates are significantly worse when it comes to old dinner sets. In almost every case, these should be replaced, continues Jessie-Sierra Ross, cooking and home entertaining book author (Seasons Around the Table, available to pre-order at Amazon), food & lifestyle blogger, and TV food content creator.

‘Sometimes our well-loved china becomes a bit too loved. Cracks can appear in the glaze or in the dish itself. This affects the structural strength of the plate and should be discarded or even better, put to a new use. If the crack isn't too deep, I like to save my pretty damaged plates to use under my potted house plants,’ she shares. ‘They help you to be more sustainable at home, add a spot of color, and catch any spills when watering.’

3. It is heavily stained or scratched

It is perhaps unsurprising that a home item we use every day will eventually start to show signs of wear. Dinnerware, no matter how carefully loved, will usually scratch up and start to stain over time, warns Jessie-Sierra Ross. home entertaining expert. The trick is knowing when they are saveable, and when they need to go, she says.

‘Do you find yourself scratching at an old red wine stain on your dinner plates or furiously scrubbing a coffee stain off of your favorite saucer? It might be time to replace your set,’ she says. ‘Give your dishes one last good scrub by cleaning with baking soda and water for good measure, but if the stain doesn't lift, it's time to discard.’

4. Your sets are all mismatched

Even the least clumsy of us will be lucky not to break a plate every once in a while. Whether you are washing up and a plate slips, you knock it off the side, or you get slippy fingers lifting them from the cabinet, it happens to all of us every once in a while.

Unless you can purchase the plates individually, this usually results in a lot of mismatched sets with odd numbers. You can generally get by from day to day with this, but it is not practical for hosting – especially if your set starts to diminish with breakages.

If this sounds like the contents of your kitchen storage, it might be time to consider treating yourself to another, new full set – maybe even with a few extra pieces, just in case.

5. They do not reflect your style

Tastes change all the time, and there is no harm in admitting that your current dining set is not bringing you joy, or doesn't fit with your current tablescaping goals. So long as you are not buying new dinner sets every single year and throwing the old ones in the trash, it is fine to have a redo every once in a while, says Jessie-Sierra Ross. home entertaining expert:

‘Don't feel guilty for wanting a sparkling new set of dishes or replacing your original china with a set of well-preserved vintage pieces. Our decor tastes change with time, and new dinnerware is an easy and simple way to change up your dinner table.'


How often should you replace your dishes?

There is no set timeframe for you to replace your dishes. Generally speaking, you will want to look at replacing sets as they dwindle in number due to breakages, become chipped, scratched, or cracked, or they no longer spark joy. This usually means an average lifecycle of around three to five years, but that is not a hard and fast rule.

How many dishes should a household have?

When buying new dinnerware, you always want to have a number of dishes equal to the number of people in your home, plus two to four extras. This allows for accidental breakages so no one is left without a plate at household dinners while offering extras to keep on hand for hosting large parties.

When replacing your dinnerware, consider carefully what to do with the things you declutter, reminds Jamila Musayeva, etiquette expert. This will obviously depend on its condition. Chipped or broken plates should be repaired if possible, or otherwise thrown out. Otherwise, ‘you can choose to donate it, restore it, sell at a flea market or online second-hand stores,’ Jamila suggests, to help minimize waste.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.