Plates come in many varieties: dinner plates, serving plates (or platters), paper, plastic, ceramic, china and more.
Plates are relatively flat dishes, generally used for serving solid food. A plate is normally used for the main course of a meal.
The term plate can also refer to other flat items like tectonic plates or pieces of the Earth's crust, sheets of metal, a printing, x-ray or photography plate. To "step up to the plate" is to ready oneself to take upon a task. (It refers to the home plate on a baseball diamond. A player steps up to the plate in order to prepare to bat.)
- washing guidelines (for example, will they be harmed by a mechanical dishwasher)
- sturdiness (can it hold the weight of the expected food?)
- porousness (more important when the food to be served on it has lots of liquid)
- materials used in decorations (especially in some older dishes some unsafe or toxic materials were used in the paint, such as lead)
- are they microwave safe?
Most plates are rather easy to clean. If they are dishwasher safe, most dishwashers have a large space appropriate for holding plates on their sides for washing. If you want or need to hand wash them, it will be easiest before the food dries on. Soak or rinse them in water, wash off any remaining food using a soapy cloth or sponge, rinse off the soapy dirty water. Put them in a dish drainer or dish rack to dry or use a clean, dry towel to dry and stack them.
- Wikipedia's article on plate
- Google's listing of some key plate dishware history