AS CURATOR OF COLLECTIONS at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, in Santa Fe, Patrick Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh) ensures that every piece of pottery is properly cared for. But you don’t have to live in a museum to fill your home with Native pottery. Just heed these cautions.

Purchase wisely. Cruz has seen pots “glazed” with black shoe polish or decorated with paint after firing. “And then the paint washes off,” he says. Reputable galleries and museum shops can tell you about each artist and how they create their pieces.

Play keep-away. “At home, I put all my pots up high because I have little kids. If you’re having guests over with kids, find a spot that’s not accessible to them.”

Shun Mr. Clean. “Decorative pottery should only be wiped with a damp rag, at most. Functional pots, like cooking pots or micaceous bean pots, can be washed with water. But don’t use soap! It can go into the pores of the pot and affect the flavor of food.” Also? Skip soaking; hand-wash only.

Enjoy it. “Take care of your pottery, and it’ll last forever. There’s not much it’s susceptible to, other than cracking or breaking.” Oh, yeah. That.