Melamine is a type of plastic that is shatter proof and scratch resistant. For this reason, melamine dinnerware is sought by restaurant owners who want plates that are durable enough to withstand repeated wear and tear in a commercial kitchen but that still offer a more upscale presentation than is found at a fast-food establishment.
Aside from durability, safety and diversity are also reasons restaurateurs select melamine dinnerware. Like many plastics, melamine acts as an insulator and can protect servers’ and customers’ hands from hot food. However, the plates are not oven or microwave safe because they can blister, warp or crack. This durable plastic dinnerware is also preferred by many establishments because of the different shapes, sizes and colors available, even novelty shapes and colors, like fish shaped or tie-dyed. However, wacky colors and shapes are not a necessity. Colors and patterns similar to fine china are also available and are virtually indestructible.
When washing your melamine dinnerware, avoid chlorine-based detergents. Chlorine detergents can leave a film on the plates and cause the color to fade. Melamine plates are dishwasher safe, but using a machine to wash the dishes will cause them to fade faster than if they are washed by hand.