I love the plum and turquoise Sasaki dishes that D's grandmother gave us years ago, but there are times when a simple white plate is exactly what you want. I started browsing the whiteware collections at Macy*s, hoping for something to go on sale. Dishes are expensive! It's hard to justify buying new ones when we already have a complete set on hand.
Goodwill to the rescue! A few weeks before Christmas I went to Goodwill looking for lace trim to repurpose. I struck out, but I did happen to find a set of 6 place settings (each has a dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, cup + saucer) in a beautiful matte white china. It is certainly used, as evidenced by a few chips and scratches, but I love it.
The best part? It was a half off blue tag day and I got the entire set for $12.50. Score.
People sometimes ask me how I find stuff at the thrift store and all I can say is that a lot of the time I don't. If I'm in the neighborhood I'll stop by and browse and frequently I don't pick up anything. I just look successful because I don't post when I come up empty handed (because posts that say "I went to the thrift store again but didn't find anything" would get terribly repetitive). The key is to drop in regularly, avoid getting discouraged and have an open eye (be willing to look past minor repairs, paint touch ups, dirt, etc).
General cleanliness tips - if you purchase clothes or sheets (my favorite source of vintage cloth) put them in the dryer IMMEDIATELY. I openly admit that I am terrified of bedbugs, but the high heat of the dryer kills them dead. Apparently 10 minutes is all you need, but I play it safe with 30 on maximum heat. I wash them as well, of course. Dishes get plopped in the sink right away and soaked for 30 minutes in a 10% bleach solution. This is what we use to remove DNA from stuff in the lab, so I can guarantee that it's effective.