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How-to Care for Wicker Furniture —
Cleaning and Maintenance

40-year veteran wicker furniture restoration expert, Cathryn Peters, shares her knowledge on wicker furniture care that she’s picked up during her career. Here she’s offering free tips and hints on how-to care for wicker furniture to keep your woven wicker furniture in optimum year-round shape.
 

How-to Care for Your Antique Wicker Furniture

Copyright © 2003 Cathryn Peters

Fancy Victorian wicker back with curlicues and beads

arrow To remove surface dust, regularly vacuum wicker furniture using the soft bristle brush attachment.

To get stubborn dirt, fuzz, or animal hair out of the crevices use a new, dry paintbrush to brush it out or use an ice-pick, awl or tweezers to pull out the material.

arrow Wipe up any spills with a clean cloth, dampened with a light detergent or Murphy’s Oil Soap in water.

Rattan reed wicker can be thoroughly cleaned outdoors by using the spray hose and light detergent. Rinse well and dry completely before using again. Use caution here, because water can lift the finish.

Paper fibre rush wicker should never be sprayed with or immersed in water, since it’s made of twisted paper and may be destroyed by water.

arrow Maintain even humidity in your home to keep antique wicker happy.

Too low humidity level causes the wicker to dry out and become brittle, but too high humidity subjects the wicker to mold and mildew.

Consider using a dehumidifier if your furniture is subjected to high humidity conditions or at least move the wicker piece to an area with good air circulation.

If you do notice mold or mildew growing on your wicker furniture, clean immediately with a solution of bleach in water.

Vacuum it first, using the brush attachment. Then use a soft-bristle scrub brush to remove dirt and mold, wash with bleach solution, rinse well. Let the wicker piece dry thoroughly in the shade on a warm, windy day.

Do not sit on until completely dry, about two or three days. Remove the wicker piece from the area that allowed mold and mildew to collect on it in the first place, and relocate to an area with good air circulation and low humidity.

arrow To add life to the seats of your wicker furniture, use padded chair seat cushions.

This hint is especially good for both a woven reed wicker and paper fibre seats, but also for any cane seat over 14 inches in diameter.

weather damaged modern reed wicker

Weather damaged rattan reed wicker

arrow Never subject your antique wicker furniture to the harsh weather elements of sun, rain, snow or wind.

The fibers deteriorate from the sun, becoming dry and brittle, and the glue joints might loosen.

The fibers can also deteriorate from the excess moisture of dew, rain, and snow, causing the furniture’s hardwood frames to warp.

Using your antique wicker on unprotected decks or out in the garden is a big “no-no.” However, a 3-season porch or a porch with wide overhang is usually tolerated for limited periods.

arrow Decorating with wicker today.

Get the same wicker decorating effects outdoors by using inexpensive, easily replaceable, rattan reed wicker furniture or all-weather faux wicker made of resin, plastic or fiberglass.

Take care of those precious antiques and family heirlooms and remember, “Once an antique wicker piece is gone, it’s gone for good. You can’t make another antique to use during your lifetime!”


Have more questions about wicker furniture that you need answers for? Then check out all the problem wicker questions from folks just like yourself that Cathryn has been able to help at
Wicker FAQ, you’ll be glad you did.


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