3 tips for keeping your caning in top shape

July 29, 2015

Used on antique and contemporary chairs, footstools, and other small furniture pieces, caning is made of woven bamboo or reeds. Historically, it was often intended to support cushions, which also helped protect it. Since caning is made from natural materials, it needs a little special care.

3 tips for keeping your caning in top shape

1. Care for your caning

Here's how to keep your caning in good shape:

  • To clean caning, use the brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner regularly to suck out lose dirt, or dust it with a soft brush, such as a paintbrush. To wash dirtier caning, use a little mild detergent in water applied with a sponge, cloth, or medium-stiff brush. Rinse with clear water, and towel. Don't use harsh detergents or cleaners.
  • To prevent stains on caning, clean up any spills promptly with a wet cloth or soap and water. A stain may be impossible to remove. If you do get a stain, your best bet is to follow the lead of many old-timers and paint the cane.

2. Get the sag out of caning

  • To fix a sagging cane seat, provided the material isn't broken, wet the seat thoroughly from underneath with a sponge.
  • The underside is more porous than the top and will absorb better.
  • Then let the caning dry in the sun. The cane should shrink back into shape. Note: Don't do this with paper-fibre caning.

3. Don’t soak paper fibre

  • At the turn of the 20th century, an embargo was placed on the importation of rattan reed from Asia. The embargo sparked the invention of paper fibre rush.
  • This material, essentially long, twisted strands of chemically treated paper, was very popular through the 1930s and was also used instead of cattail rush or bulrush to weave the seats of wooden chairs.
  • Overall, paper fibre is very durable, and you can wash it with a sponge. But since it is paper, you should never immerse it in water or soak it with a hose. If it becomes saturated, it can disintegrate.
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