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Melamine Dinnerware and Staining: Reasons, How to Avoid, and Easy Ways to Remove


All dinnerware – china or melamine – can stain if you do not follow proper care and maintenance procedures. In this article, we will discuss why melamine dinnerware stains, how to prevent it, and if you do develop stains, how to easily remove them. You will also find these tips are suggested for all dinnerware types as the same effect can occur if not taken care of.


Why is Your Melamine Dinnerware Staining?

The reason is simple. The proper care and maintenance steps are not being followed. The number one reason why melamine products develop stains is because foods and sauces are left to dry on the product. This is why foods like blackberries and tomato sauces have been given a bad rap and are commonly blamed for staining dinnerware. Simple care procedures will help prevent staining.

 Pro Tip!  To avoid staining, make sure to remove any remaining food or sauce from your melamine dinnerware immediately after service. Don’t let it dry out.

Protein build up may be another issue many people will identify as staining but is actually caused by the minerals found in hard water. Protein build-up occurs during the dishwashing process when hard water minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium, combine with proteins left over from food and adhere to the melamine dinnerware. This can cause the dinnerware to have a dull, yellowish tint or a cloudy appearance.

 Pro Tip!  It is important to identify protein build-up immediately. If left untreated you may not be able to remove protein build-up from your melamine products.

Easy Steps to Follow to Avoid Staining Problems Altogether

Remember when we said that it is extremely easy to avoid staining? All you have to do is make sure that when your melamine dinnerware is bussed and returned to the kitchen, it’s immediately rinsed and cleaned. Rinsing and washing your dishes as soon as possible will prevent any food residue and sauces from drying.

Presoaking your products periodically (every week or two) will also help to prevent staining while maintaining the product’s luster. After you rinse, just soak for 10-15 minutes, which will loosen any remaining food residue or sauce, and then continue with your normal dishwashing process.


 Pro Tip!  It is recommended to have a qualified technician maintain your dishwashing system. It is important to make sure the temperatures and chemical levels are at the optimal settings suggested for melamine and most dinnerware. That expert will also be able to provide a list of detergents and rinse agents safe for use on melamine and that work best with your dishwasher model.

Got Stains? No Worries! Follow These Easy Steps to Remove Them

One of the best solutions for removing stains or protein build-up on melamine dinnerware is an oxygen-releasing compound such as Dip-it XP by Eco Lab. Or you can also easily make your own solution by adding everyday dishwashing granules, like Cascade, to warm water in a bus tub or sink. You’ll want to soak your stained products in the solution for about 4 hours, or overnight for tougher stains.

You can then gently scrub your products with a non-abrasive pad to remove the stains and continue with your normal dishwashing routine. Good non-abrasive pads for this process are the 3M Scotch Brite Power Sponge #9030 or the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge.

 Pro Tip!  DO NOT use bleach, green scrubbies, steel wool, or metal scouring pads to clean your melamine dinnerware. These abrasive products will dull and scratch the surface of your melamine products.


Following the steps listed above will help prevent and remove any staining you may encounter when using your melamine dinnerware. The most important thing to take away from this article is to make sure you and your staff do not let food and sauce dry on your dinnerware.

So just to recap…

  • Reasons for Staining – dried food residue and sauces
  • Preventing Staining – rinse and wash products immediately after use and occasionally pre-soak products to break down any leftover foods or sauces
  • Removing Staining – use an oxygen-releasing compound for extended soaking and then gently scrub clean

Let your foodservice peers know if you have any other tips and tricks on preventing and removing staining from melamine dinnerware in the comments below. 

If you are ready to let G.E.T. help you elevate your dining experiences, reach out to us now!

Phone: 1-800-727-4500 | Email: [email protected]

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