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How to Clean Wicker Furniture: Experts Reveal Their Best Tricks

Plus the easy tips for making sure it stays clean.

Wicker is a timeless option for both indoor and outdoor furniture – just think about the recently popular beachy-coastal trend in designing! But while wicker furniture looks great both indoors and out, all of those nooks and crannies mean dust can build up, leaving it looking dirty over time. That’s why it needs to be cleaned regularly. “If you take care of wicker properly, it can last a lifetime,” says Peter Bielecky, President of Bielecky Brothers Inc, whose family has been making handmade natural wicker furniture in the United States since 1892.  To learn how to clean wicker furniture as well as how to best store it, just keep scrolling.

What Is wicker?

Wicker is actually the weaving process used to make furniture rather than the material itself. Wicker furniture is frequently made from rattan, which is a solid timber vine. “Rattan, wicker and cane all come from the same plant,” says Bielecky. “And we utilize the entire plant to make furniture.” Essentially, the vine itself is used to form the furniture frame, while the outer layer is woven to make the softer parts of the furniture. Synthetic wicker furniture, on the other hand, typically has an aluminum frame and the woven material is made from non-porous vinyls and resins.

How to clean wicker furniture

Follow these easy steps!

Step 1: Dust frequently

Because of all the places dust can hide, you’ll want to dust both natural and synthetic wicker furniture any time you’re wiping down other pieces in your home. Use a clean Swiffer or microfiber cloth to remove any surface dust or dirt from the furniture. Gently dust from top to bottom, making sure to pay close attention to all of the crevices in the item.

One caveat: “Never use furniture polish on wicker,” says Bielecky. “The oils in furniture polishes aren’t good for wicker or rattan. There are so many nooks and crannies, using furniture polish will just trap in more dust.

Step 2: Vacuum before washing

Even if you’ve dusted your wicker on a regular basis, you’ll want to give it a thorough vacuuming before beginning to wash the furniture in order to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. Use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum to gently brush and vacuum both surface and crevice dust. 

See this video from cleaning expert Angela Brown that shows how to vacuum a piece of wicker:

Step 3: If your furniture is natural wicker

First, wipe the wicker piece down with a rag dampened with plain water to remove any residual dust before making your cleaning solution, says Bielecky. For natural wicker, he recommends using a mixture of one gallon warm water, a teaspoon of dish soap, a half-cup of white, regular strength vinegar and the juice of one lemon squeezed into the water. “Any other cleaners can damage your natural wicker,” says Bielecky. Use the solution and a rag to wipe the piece down thoroughly once again from top to bottom, using the rag to gently get into the creases in the furniture.

Avoid using any abrasive scrubbers on the furniture as they can damage the surface of the pieces. Mold or mildew stains can be scrubbed gently with a soft brush or toothbrush and a mixture of one part bleach to three parts water. Finish by once again using a clean, damped cloth to wipe the piece down one last time, being sure to remove any liquid left on the furniture, and be careful to wipe any areas treated with the bleach solution carefully. And whatever you do, don’t power-wash your wicker and don’t get it overly wet, says Bielecky.

See this video from Prestige Wicker on how to clean a natural wicker basket with warm water and lemon juice:

Related: 13 Brilliant Uses For White Vinegar Guaranteed To Make Your Life Easier

If your wicker is synthetic

You’ll want to start your cleaning of synthetic wicker by wiping it down with a damp cloth as well before making your cleaning solution. Then, make a cleaning solution of mild soap and warm water. For dirtier furniture, a half-cup of ammonia can be added to the water. “Use a soft brush or cloth to clean the synthetic wicker, making sure to reach all the crevices,” says Marla Mock, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “Finish by rinsing thoroughly with warm water.”

See this video from furniture maker Outer that shows one method for cleaning outdoor furniture, including synthetic wicker:

Related: This Condiment Will Remove Rust From Patio Furniture Without Any Harsh Chemicals

Step 4: Dry thoroughly

Natural wicker, especially, should be dried thoroughly – whether it’s being used indoors or out. Bielecky recommends sitting outdoor pieces out in the sun after wiping them dry, so that all of the creases and woven spots dry completely.

For indoor wicker furniture, he recommends using a hair dryer to thoroughly dry the furniture. “Water is the enemy when it comes to wicker, so you must be sure it’s completely dry,” advises Bielecky. Any water left on wicker furniture can lead to mold or mildew as well. 

While you’ll still want to dry synthetic wicker to avoid any mold from forming in the woven areas, it’s not quite as vitally important with synthetic wicker as it is with natural wicker items because synthetic materials aren’t quite as prone to water damage. Synthetic wicker can be air-dryed, says Mock. 

How often should you clean wicker furniture?

“The frequency of cleaning can vary slightly between natural and synthetic wicker due to their different resistances to dirt and moisture,” says Mock. “Synthetic wicker may generally withstand more rigorous or frequent cleaning due to its durability.”

How often you wash wicker also depends on whether it’s being used indoors or out. Indoor wicker should be cleaned monthly, while outdoor wicker should be cleaned weekly. “Outdoor wicker may require more frequent and robust cleaning to address mold, mildew and more severe weather-related dirt and stains,” says Mock. “Indoor wicker generally requires lighter, less frequent cleaning focused on dust and everyday dirt.” 

How to keep wicker furniture clean by storing it properly

Wicker chair with pillow, plaid and table near light wall
Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty

Clean it before storage

It’s important to clean any wicker furniture thoroughly before storing it in the off-seasons. Also be sure to remove any cushions and store those separately. The last thing you want is damp cushions sitting on your furniture and potentially causing damage all winter long. 

Related: How To Clean Outdoor Cushions — and Get Rid of the Mold + Mildew That Can Make You Feel Sick and Tired

Keep wicker inside or covered

When it’s not in use or off-season, wicker should be covered if it can’t be kept inside. “Lots of stores sell furniture covers you can use to protect your wicker furniture if you have to leave it outside,” says Bielecky. If you must keep your wicker outside and covered for the winter, be sure to tie it down so it doesn’t get moved and damaged in any severe weather. 

Never let wicker sit in water or stay wet

“Wicker rots from the inside out and you’ll never know it,” says Bielecky. “If your furniture is outside sitting in a puddle of water, it will soak it up and rot.” That’s why you should always make sure any natural wicker you own is stored in a dry area when not in use rather than being left out in the elements.

For more on cleaning furniture, click through the links below!

How To Deep Clean a Couch: Expert Tips for Getting It To Look Like New

The ‘Iron’ Secret To Removing Red Wine Stains From Upholstered Furniture

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