ISSUE 15  |  Spring Projects

Hardscaping 101: Wicker Furniture Care

April 08, 2016 2:00 AM

BY Janet Hall

Does your outdoor wicker furniture require cleaning to get it in shape for the outdoor season? Here’s everything you need to know to care for it:

Wicker is a word used to describe nearly any woven material.¬†Generally outdoor wicker furniture falls into two categories: natural and man-made fibers.¬†Wicker furniture is usually made from weaving flexible rattan, twigs or other thin branches, or manmade fibers (a nice way of saying plastic). Here’s everything you need to know to care for and clean different kinds of wicker furniture:

Natural Fibers

serena and lily hanging chair ; Gardenista

Above: Made of bent rattan, a Hanging Rattan Chair is $495 from Serena & Lily. For more like it, see 10 Easy Pieces: Hanging Chairs.

The most common natural fiber wicker furniture is made from rattan reeds or paper fiber rush. Some are left in their natural finish, while others are painted or treated with some type of clear coating.

Bloomingville-Rattan-lounge-chair-gardenista

Above: Denmark-based designer Bloomingville’s woven high-backed Natural Rattan Chair is on sale for $199from Amara. For more like it, see The Gardenista 100: Best Scandinavian Rattan Lounge Chairs.

Best suited for covered outdoor locations or drier climes, natural wicker furniture should be brought indoors or covered in inclement weather. The weather elements will eventually rot the fibers, causing the furniture to decay after a period of time. The same goes for painted wicker; weather may cause the paint to get damaged and peel or flake off.

Natural-Bristle-Washout-bench-brushes-Gardenista

Above: For our favorite bristle brushes, see 10 Easy Pieces: Potting Shed Brushes.

The main cleaning conundrum with wicker is its textured surface. The best way to keep wicker clean is to use a vacuum with the brush attachment or a hand held brush (a soft paint brush is a good choice) to remove surface dirt and dust.

Vinegar-cleaning-solution-lemon-oil-remodelista

Above: For more, see DIY: 10 Natural Vinegar Cleaners. Photograph by Sarah Lonsdale.

Spills or stains can be washed with a cloth dampened with mild soap and water. If mildew has formed, wipe the wicker with a mixture of vinegar and water and then again with a cloth dampened with water. Untreated reed wicker can be rinsed with a hose and left in the sun to dry, but paper wicker should never be sprayed with water. Our recommendation is to avoid excess water as it can easily get trapped in the cracks and crevices and provide a home for mold and mildew.

Man-made Weatherproof Fibers

grottage-18-gardenista

Above: A manmade fiber wicker armchair painted white provides the perfect outdoor reading spot in front of this 186-Square-Foot Guest Cottage. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Wicker woven with resin fibers, like plastic furniture, can be left outside year-round and in any weather conditions as they are highly resistant to mildew, fading, staining, and cracking. Just be mindful of the dirt and debris settling in the textured surface; you may want to place a cover over the furniture during periods of non-use to reduce cleaning when you head back outdoors.

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Above: Sarah recommends the design worthy Metro Vac Professional Hand Vacuum; $69.99 from Amazon.

Like natural wicker you can vacuum or use a dry, clean brush to dust the furniture to keep it dirt and dust free. For deeper cleaning, spray with a hose and wipe dry with a soft cloth. As with any furniture, avoid letting water stand on the surface.

We’re taking spring cleaning season seriously. If you’re getting your outdoor furniture in shape for the season, see: