Tips for cleaning and restoring baskets

Baskets are acommon fixture in most homes, whether they're stored in the garage until Easter time or displayed year-round. Either way, their woven construction makes them virtual dust magnets. A few simple methods can help keep them in top condition

Tips for cleaning and restoring baskets

1. To clean an unfinished wicker basket

  • A gentle vacuum is all that's required, since too much moisture will damage the basket.
  • On fragile baskets, though, don't use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt — its suction may be too powerful. Instead, lightly dust in between the wickerwork with a damp cloth.

2. To clean a varnished or painted basket

  • Start by vacuuming it gently, then use a spray bottle filled with water and 15 ml (1 tbls) of vinegar to apply a light mist on the dirty surfaces. The spray allows you to penetrate the small areas between the wickerwork.
  • Wipe the basket dry with a very soft cloth, such as a baby washcloth, because it's less likely to get caught on rough edges.
  • Use a cotton swab to work the vinegar solution into any tight places.
  • Air out the basket in the sun or a dry room, but keep it away from heat sources, which can result in warping.

3. To clean most other types of baskets

  • Use a vacuum cleaner, followed by a mild solution of water and a bit of dishwashing liquid on a soft cloth.
  • Apply a soft brush if needed for problem spots.
  • Avoid using any cleaner with phosphates in it (read the fine print on the packet), which can eventually cause the basket to disintegrate.

4. New life for an old basket

  • To rescue a worn-looking basket, give it a coat of spray paint.
  • First of all, check whether small pieces of broken wicker are sticking out. If they are, use wire cutters to trim them down.
  • Then hang the basket on a metal clothes hanger, attach it to a tree and spray-paint it as evenly as possible.
  • Let the basket hang there for a few hours to dry.
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