The right way to care for wicker furniture

July 29, 2015

A little extra care will go a long way with wicker. Here's how to keep your wicker looking good.

The right way to care for wicker furniture

A variety of vines, grasses, and plant can be woven into the furniture we call wicker. The four most commonly used materials are rattan, reed, willow and bamboo. Light and surprisingly strong, wicker furniture adds a note of casual elegance to any room.

• Regularly vacuum your wicker using a soft brush attachment — it is the gentlest way to clean wicker. You can use a new, dry paintbrush to sweep stubborn dirt, fuzz or animal hair out of crevices. You can also carefully use an ice pick, awl or tweezers to pry or pull stuck bits out.

• Wipe up any spills with a clean cloth dampened with a light detergent or Murphy Oil Soap in water.

• Reed wicker can be cleaned outdoors by using a spray hose and light detergent. Rinse the furniture well, and dry it completely before using it again. But be careful, because water can lift the finish.

Deal with mildew

  • If you notice mildew growing on your wicker furniture, clean it with a 50-50 solution of bleach in water.
  • Vacuum it first with a soft-bristle brush.
  • Use a sponge to wash the wicker with the bleach solution, rinse well, then let it dry thoroughly in the shade, preferably on a warm, windy day.
  • Remember — don't use the furniture until it is completely dry.
  • To prevent more mildew, use a dehumidifier in the area or move the wicker piece to a drier place.

Preserve with finish or paint

  • If your wicker is in good shape but looking dingy, you can make it look like new with a clear finish.
  • First vacuum the wicker, and then wash it with detergent and water. Let it dry thoroughly — for at least a day.
  • Now you can apply any clear finish. Polyurethane is durable and easy to apply, but you can also use varnish, shellac or lacquer.
  • Flat finishes are the most natural-looking, but glossier finishes are more durable and easier to clean.You can also paint wicker — again, semigloss or gloss paint is most durable.
  • An eggshell-gloss paint is fine, too, but flat paint will be tough to clean.
  • The most economical approach is to brush on interior wall paint, but cans of spray paint make it much easier to get an even coat while reaching all the crannies.

Keep wicker comfortable

  • The same humidity level that keeps you comfortable in your home will contribute to long life for your wicker. If the air is too dry, the wicker can start to creak and crackle.
  • If it is too humid, mould and mildew can form, not only on your wicker but also in other areas of your home.
  • If necessary, use a humidifier in dry weather and a dehumidifier in humid weather. In dry weather, it may also help to wipe your wicker with a damp sponge.
  • To add life to the seats of your wicker use padded chair-seat cushions.
  • This is especially helpful for woven reed wicker and paper fibre seats and also for any cane seat that is more than 36 centimetres (14 inches) in diameter.
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