How To Clean Wicker Furniture So That It Ages Gracefully

Let's make it last.

Whether your home is in the South or you're trying to create a classic Southern feel in your house, nothing brings a breezy, relaxed tone to a room like wicker furniture. Wicker isn't an actual material, but the style of weaving used in furniture made from rattan or other natural fibers, or synthetic resin. Whatever kind of wicker furniture you have, it's important to know how to clean it so it looks its best and ages gracefully. Now let's dive into the nitty-gritty of how to clean wicker so that it only gets better with time.

White Porch with Green Wicker Rocking Chairs

Laurey W. Glenn

How Often to Clean Wicker Furniture

When cleaning most areas of your house, whether it's your screen door, your walls, or your furniture, a good place to start is typically with a quick once-over with the vacuum. Wicker furniture is no different. Because it can collect dust, dirt, and debris between its weave, wicker can benefit from the use of a vacuum with a brush attachment to help clean crevices quickly and easily. If you're able to control the power of your vacuum, keep it on a lower setting to avoid damaging the weave. Get creative when a vacuum fails to clean out a dusty area: maybe a blowdryer or a blast of compressed air will work. In between vacuuming sessions, go over your wicker furniture with a duster. When you need to go beyond dust removal, here's how to clean wicker furniture safely.

What You Need

* Dish soap

* Water

* A soft-bristled toothbrush or scrub brush

* A microfiber cloth

How to Clean Wicker Furniture

1. Create a soapy solution with two to three cups of water and a few drops of dish soap. 2. Wicker furniture experts say to use just the soapy bubbles to clean your furniture—you don't want to soak this porous material with too much water. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the dirty spots. 3. After scrubbing the dirt off, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe up excess soap. 4. Be sure all soapy residue is completely removed.

If you're planning to clean your entire chair, swap your toothbrush for a soft-bristled scrub brush, but use the same soapy water solution. You'll want to work section by section, allowing each section to dry completely before moving on to the next one. This is crucial because if your entire wicker item is wet, it will likely deform throughout the drying process. Working in smaller (ideally, 6-inch) sections will keep your weave tight, just as it should be.

To dry wicker, place in front of a fan or outside if there's a relatively strong breeze and the sun is shining. Don't sit or put any weight on the wicker while it's wet or else it could sag or bend beyond repair.

Removing Mold and Mildew from Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture is a front porch staple, and being out in humid air makes it vulnerable to mold and mildew. Even though a strong cleaner might be your first instinct, don't reach for the bleach. Instead, use a solution with a ratio of one-part vinegar to four-parts water. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the solution over the moldy and mildewed areas. Then use a damp cloth to wipe clean with water. Again, pros advise that you go easy with the water—porous natural wicker furniture shouldn't be soaked.

How to Keep Your Wicker Furniture Cleaner Longer

While synthetic wicker furniture is built to take the elements, wicker pieces woven from natural materials are porous and are not meant to be left out in uncovered areas. Also, never store natural wicker pieces in damp places, like basements.

How to Get Rid of Smells and Prevent Smells in Wicker Furniture

A damp smell coming from your wicker furniture is usually due to mold, mildew, or general dampness. Follow the mold and mildew removal cleaning instructions above, and sprinkle it with baking soda. Dry your furniture in the open air or an air-conditioned room if it's too humid outside, and vacuum off the baking soda.

How to Clean Synthetic Wicker Furniture

Synthetic resin wicker furniture, often called outdoor wicker or all-weather wicker, requires less TLC. Hose it down, and cover it if it's not going to be in use for a while to protect it from blowing debris and bird droppings. If your area gets cold in the winter, store it to keep the resin from contracting and expanding and becoming weaker.

Seasonal Upkeep of Wicker Furniture

Twice a year, pros say it's smart to give your natural wicker furniture a protective wipe with lemon oil. Note: do not use lemon oil on wicker pieces that are pained white, as it will yellow the finish. Wipe down clean, dry wicker furniture with a rag dipped in lemon oil.

When to Call a Professional

If you notice breaking or unraveling, contact a furniture repair specialist. Some repairs are DIY and can be done with replacement fibers and wood glue, but complicated fixes or repairs of heirloom pieces should be handled by a pro.

How To Clean Wicker Baskets

To clean wicker baskets, use the same vacuuming and spot cleaning methods as described above. If cleaning the bottom of the basket, it's important that it has adequate airflow for drying, so position it in a way that gives the wet part maximum exposure. Otherwise, the process is just as straightforward as cleaning any other type of wicker item.

Now that your wicker items are pristine, keep the freshening-up momentum going by using these tips for cleaning your outdoor cushions and getting some overall porch inspiration.

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