How To Clean Wicker Furniture Without Damaging It

how to clean wicker furniture

Natural wicker furniture requires a lot more specialized care than what you might consider a good approach to cleaning other furniture in your home. 

But with natural and synthetic wicker, there are right and wrong ways to approach regular and annual deep cleaning. 

If you choose the wrong approach, you could end up damaging the wicker furniture. In a worst-case situation, that will mean an expensive repair or even a replacement. That’s why it’s so important to do a bit of research before you get started. 

Let’s take a look at how to clean wicker furniture to make sure it looks great and lasts longer.

Before You Start Cleaning 

The worst thing you can do is just use normal cleaning methods for your kitchen and floors and then apply those to wicker furniture. Most indoor cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can damage the paint, varnish, and even the wicker material. 

So, take a step back and start with these three simple steps. 

Check The Overall Condition

With both synthetic and natural wicker furniture, there is a certain degree of risk that especially the woven wicker sections get damaged. And when there is even a small break in the natural materials, you need to deal with those before you start going at them with brushes and cleaning solutions. 

Then there’s the need to assess the amount of dirt and dust. It’s easier to deal with dust, but you want to take a close look underneath the wicker and all those cavities where dust and dirt can get into. 

Also, take a close look at the corners where the wicker meets the furniture frame, as that’s where a lot of dirt can get stuck, especially with outdoor furniture. 

Then take note of greasy and difficult to remove dirt, as you’ll need to be careful with that. 

See If There Are Obvious Stains

This is particularly important with natural wicker furniture as you can’t be as aggressive with cleaning solutions and brushes. 

It wouldn’t be uncommon for food and drink spills to go unnoticed, and that can cause staining that is a bit more difficult to remove. That’s why you want to look for obvious signs of juice or wine stains, especially on wicker chairs. 

You might also notice grease stains that can discolor the wicker rattan material, which can worsen over time. Keep note of how bad they are, and then make sure you have the right materials to clean the wicker. 

Gather The Right Materials

Now that you’ve assessed the general state of your wicker chairs and furniture, it’s time to gather a few things to prepare for the job ahead:

  • Microfiber duster or feather duster
  • Soft brush or old toothbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hairdryer
  • White vinegar
  • Mild soap or dish detergent
  • Spray bottle

As you can see, these are all typical household items, and they’ll work perfectly well to clean your wicker furniture. You’ll find that some stores offer special wicker cleaning solutions, but they are often expensive and no better than what a soft cloth and some dish soap can achieve. 

Now let’s take a look at some specific tips for cleaning wicker furniture. 

Outdoor Wicker Furniture Cleaning 

This section will show you how to clean wicker furniture that you mainly use outdoors. The techniques are similar to indoor furniture, but you need to expect a bit more dirt. 

Annual Deep Clean

Natural wicker is a great material to leave outdoors all year round. But once you get to early spring and want to prepare your garden or patio for outdoor life again, you’ll probably find quite a bit of dirt on your wicker furniture. 

Start With A Brush

The first thing to do is avoid using a stiff brush or steel wool pad to get rid of dirt. It will scratch and damage the wicker, and that could result in a costly repair bill. 

Take your soft brush and run it over all the surface areas of your wicker patio furniture. Then, turn the furniture upside down to get at all the dirt that you can’t see. 

The idea is to remove the dirt from all nooks and crannies before you start using any cleaning solutions. 

Deal With Stains

If you’ve identified some stains or grease, then mix up some white vinegar with warm water in a 1 to 8 solution. Just a little bit of vinegar will loosen a lot of grime and lift a lot of different stains. 

If you have some particularly tough grease to deal with, then you could use a handheld steam cleaner. But be very careful not to allow the wicker to get too hot. 

The Deep Clean

Now it’s time to fill another bottle sprayer with warm water and dish soap. You can also add some lemon oil to get rid of the vinegar smell. 

Spray the solution on from about a foot away, and then use a damp cloth to gently scrub over the surface. Make sure you regularly rinse out the cloth as it’s likely to get quite dirty. 

Finishing Touches

Finally, use your garden hose to rinse off the soapy solution and then dry the furniture off as much as you can. You don’t want to allow too much moisture to remain in the wicker. Then leave the wicker furniture completely dry in the sun, and it’s ready to use. 

Regular Cleaning

Keeping up a regular cleaning plan is the best way to make sure your outdoor wicker furniture lasts for decades and is a joy to use. 

I set a reminder on my phone for every two to three months during the spring and summer. I generally use the vacuum with a brush attachment on those days to get small dirt out of the seat and backrest sections of wicker chairs. 

Then, I use a water hose to get rid of rough dirt. I also do a quick check for stains and any mildew growth. 

Then, I use the same solution as above and a wet cloth. This usually takes less than half an hour and makes the annual cleaning job that much easier. 

Indoor Wicker Furniture Cleaning

Here are my tips for cleaning wicker furniture that you have inside your home. 

Annual Deep Clean

Most people just consider an annual deep clean for their outdoor furniture. And while this will certainly attract more dirt throughout the year, it’s just as important to get it right for your indoor furniture. 

First, cleaning wicker furniture should start with removing dust and larger dirt particles. The more woven wicker sections there are, the more likely that dirt will get caught. 

So, the first thing you should do is get your vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment and get into as many corners and surfaces as possible. If you can’t get into the smallest corners, then try using a hairdryer instead. Just make sure you adjust it to a cool setting. 

Next, you’ll want to mix a solution of soapy water in a spray bottle. Apply this evenly across the surfaces and use a damp cloth to remove the dirt and grease. 

And if you have some stains that won’t lift with regular soap, then mix up an 8-1 water and vinegar solution to gently remove them. 

Then, just let the wicker dry before you start using it again. 

Regular Cleaning

Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure that your wicker furniture will last for decades while looking as good as it did the first day. 

The first thing to stay on top of with natural wicker is the dust settling in the woven material and difficult to see corners. Use your vacuum cleaner once a month to remove dust. 

An easy way to remove dust from all nooks and crannies that are difficult to get to is with a hairdryer. 

You also want to check for any signs of mold, which can happen, especially with furniture that you regularly use for mealtimes. Remove mold immediately with a vinegar solution mentioned above, as it can damage the wicker structure. 

Avoid Wicker Cleaning Mistakes 

Here are a few mistakes that you have to avoid with all wicker furniture. 

1. Harsh Or Abrasive Methods

With both natural rattan and synthetic wicker, there are a few types of materials and devices you want to avoid. 

The first thing I’d mention is a power washer. It might seem like a fast and easy way to get all sorts of dirt off wicker furniture, but it’s likely to do more damage than good. 

Also, avoid using steel wool and extremely hard bristle brushes. These will scratch and even destroy the woven materials making them costly or impossible to repair. 

2. Chemical Cleaning Solutions

If you check your pantry, you’ll probably find plenty of chemical cleaning products that you regularly use around your home. But what’s good for your kitchen and bathroom could cause significant damage to the plant fibers in most wicker furniture. 

If you need to use special cleaning products to deal with mold and mildew, I would suggest trying it out on a small piece of outdoor wicker baskets. Check if it causes discoloration or starts to lift the protective finish. 

Also, wait a few hours to see the effect before you use it on other furniture. 

3. Avoiding Weather Wear

And finally, even UV-proof synthetic wicker will gradually show signs of damage from cold weather, direct sunlight, snow, and ice. If you leave it exposed for long periods, then that exposure will gradually cause damage. 

You might not notice it at first, but the damage will gradually become very noticeable. 

Wherever possible, make sure that you cover and protect a natural product like wicker when it’s not in use. 

Start Making A Regular Wicker Cleaning Schedule

If you own indoor and outdoor furniture made with wicker rattan materials or plan to make such an investment, then make sure you understand what kind of ongoing care you need to account for. 

You really don’t need more tips than the above to keep on top of your wicker cleaning. With just a few regular steps, you’ll make sure that your furniture will last for decades. 

And if you need some inspiration for new wicker furniture options around your home, then check out our online store for the latest deals