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Rattan Clean and Care Guide


Understanding rattan furniture

Cane and rattan furniture has been popular ever since the 18th century, for both indoor and outdoor use. It can last for years, even in the most difficult environments and under heavy use – but only if you maintain it properly. This guide should help you do just that.

What is rattan furniture

Rattan furniture (properly speaking, rattan wicker furniture) is a light, durable furniture option which is made from the woven stems and cores of rattan lianas, or from various artificial materials woven in the same fashion.

How long does rattan furniture last?

Both natural and synthetic rattan furniture can be expected to last 20-30 years under normal indoor use. Expect to replace the cushions every 5-10 years, though. If it will be used outdoors, it is advisable to take natural wicker furniture indoors over the wet winter months, otherwise its lifespan will be reduced substantially. Synthetic rattan furniture can last as much as 20 years outdoors, even if left out all winter.

Understanding rattan furniture

Cane and rattan furniture has been popular ever since the 18th century, for both indoor and outdoor use. It can last for years, even in the most difficult environments and under heavy use – but only if you maintain it properly. This guide should help you do just that.

What is rattan furniture

Rattan furniture (properly speaking, rattan wicker furniture) is a light, durable furniture option which is made from the woven stems and cores of rattan lianas, or from various artificial materials woven in the same fashion.

How long does rattan furniture last?

Both natural and synthetic rattan furniture can be expected to last 20-30 years under normal indoor use. Expect to replace the cushions every 5-10 years, though. If it will be used outdoors, it is advisable to take natural wicker furniture indoors over the wet winter months, otherwise its lifespan will be reduced substantially. Synthetic rattan furniture can last as much as 20 years outdoors, even if left out all winter.

Rattan Garden Furniture General tips

All rattan is weather resistant and fairly least to clean and maintain, but as with any well-made furniture, a little TLC goes a long way. Here are a few wicker furniture care tips which will help your furniture look its best throughout its long life:

1. Garden Furniture Covers

The most effective way to keep your garden furniture looking nice is to cover it, both during the winter months and whenever rain is expected. These covers are readily available from many different manufacturers, and can fit almost any piece of outdoor furniture.
The best garden furniture covers are made of polyester with a PVC backing, and water-taped seams. As this type is both waterproof and breathable, they are ideal for furniture made of rattan and other natural materials.

2. Bring any removable cushions in when they are not in use.

Most outdoor rattan furniture cushions are ‘showerproof’, not ‘waterproof’. This means that if they are allowed to become sodden they can become mouldy or discoloured if left out for long, especially in cold weather. They could also simply blow away.

 3. Avoid direct exposure to the sun

The second key to garden furniture protection is minimising its exposure to the sun’s harmful UV radiation. The same energy which can give you a sun burn can bleach or even weaken the material of your garden furniture. This is especially true for nay synthetic, plastic-based materials but holds true even for natural rattan.

4. Rotate Chairs

There will inevitably be one part of your garden, patio or outdoor space that receives more sun or weather than other areas. Members of your family will have favourite spots or table positions. All of these factors contribute to some pieces of your furniture getting more and different wear than others. Simply rotating your chair positions, like the tyres on your car, can help them wear evenly and extend the life of the set.

5. Moving Furniture Properly

Rattan furniture is both light and sturdy, which are generally considered to be strong advantages. However, this can encourage users to be very cavalier as to how they pick up and move the pieces. If you aren’t careful, you can still damage the woven material. Be sure to pick the pieces up only by their solid frames, and never by the more flexible woven panels.

6. Clean up spills immediately

This is really ‘how to take care of wicker furniture 101’. If any liquid spills onto the piece, clean it immediately with a damp cloth. Nothing more should be needed, and there should not normally be any lasting stain.

7. Protecting furniture feet

When people think about how to preserve wicker furniture, they often overlook the pieces’ feet. Depending on the design, these might be plastic, wood, rattan, or even waterproof powder-coated steel. Make sure the feet are not dragged across concrete or pavers when you move the furniture, and keep them as clean as the rest of the piece. You shouldn’t need to do much more than that.

8. Use Cushions or pillows

Another aspect of rattan furniture care that is often overlooked is the use of cushions. Cushions are not fitted purely for the user’s comfort, but also to extend the life of the chair. Wallets, cell phones, keys, pens or other objects carried in the pocket can press sharp angles into the woven surface and damage it. Cushions spread pressure out evenly, and place much less stress on the material.

 

How to clean Rattan Furniture


 Regular cleaning is an important part of maintaining rattan wicker furniture, especially if it is to be used in the garden. How do you clean wicker furniture? We’ll tell you:

 

1. Why regular cleaning is important

Simply put, soiled wicker furniture will not last as long or give you the same quality of experience as clean wicker furniture. Cleaning rattan furniture keeps it free of dirt which can harbour and encourage mould and bacteria, which both work to break down the rattan itself.


2. How to clean a wicker chair: A step by step process to clean rattan furniture

The best way to clean wicker furniture is to avoid getting it wet – which can be tricky.

- Use a handheld vacuum or a brush attachment to remove loose dust and soil
- Use a toothbrush, cocktail stick or any other fine tool to remove stubborn soil or debris
- Fill a bowl with a mixture of washing up liquid and warm water
- Collect only the bubbles with a soft cloth, and wash the rattan surface with this
- Use a toothbrush to apply the bubbles to cracks and crevices
- Dry the rattan in the sun, or using a hair dryer.

3. How to clean outdoor wicker furniture

Outdoor wicker furniture is generally more robust than pieces intended for indoor use. Many use synthetic rattan, and can be cleaned using as much water as you like.

  • Using a bowl of warm, soapy water or a garden hose, remove all soil and debris and scrub thoroughly.
  • Place the furniture outside in the sun, or in a well-ventilated area and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Treating Rattan


Of course, if one buys waterproof garden furniture (such as synthetic, weatherproof rattan furniture) to begin with, much of this can be avoided. However, it is quite possible to weatherproof rattan garden furniture with a bit of effort, or to treat it with various kinds of ‘marine grade’ waterproof lacquer.

1. How to stain rattan furniture

Using a stain is one of the most popular methods of treating rattan garden furniture, and one of the easiest. Unless the instructions on the tin say otherwise, apply the stain directly with a thick brush, starting at the top and working downwards. Let the stain rest for the recommended period, then wipe the excess liquid off with a clean rag.

2. Liquid wax for outdoor rattan furniture

If your furniture is stained (and not painted), we recommend using liquid wax for outdoor rattan furniture. Simply polish the furniture with a good brand of liquid wax once each year, according to the instructions on the bottle.

3. Weather proofing rattan furniture

The best way of weather proofing rattan furniture is probably to use a hardwood garden furniture treatment. The best way to treat wooden garden furniture, we find, is to apply 2-3 coats of a quality marine varnish either every year, or every 2 years if you live in a fairly mild climate.

 

Repairing or restoring rattan furniture


Rattan furniture restoration isn’t terribly difficult, and many people can learn how to restore rattan furniture after watching only a few YouTube videos. Here are the basic ideas you’ll need to start refurbishing rattan furniture:

1. How to fix splits and cracks in Rattan Furniture

Rattan can become dry, split and cracked over the years, but it can still often be saved. We recommend applying boiled linseed oil once a year for this purpose. Use a large paint brush, and use as much oil as the rattan will absorb. Then simply wipe the remainder away with a soft rag.

2. How to paint rattan furniture

We find that the easiest method is to use spray-paint. Clean the item, and let it dry. First apply a thin primer coat, and then 2-3 thin coats of your chosen colour. Be sure to allow the paint plenty of time to dry between coats. Applying too much paint in a single coat will ‘clog the grain’ badly, perhaps requiring professional stripping and refinishing.

3. How to refinish rattan

Another way to restore rattan furniture is to refinish it. As always, begin by cleaning the piece and letting it dry completely. Apply a ‘liquid sander’, as rattan is all but impossible to sand normally. If you are applying the same colour finish as before, use 2 thin coats and allow to dry again between coats. If you are using a different colour, you may need to use substantially more coats to get the desired effect.

So now you know the basic techniques you’ll need to clean, maintain and even restore your rattan furniture. Maintaining and occasionally refinishing your rattan garden furniture will greatly increase its life-span, and make your garden seem that much more welcoming to guests and your own family alike.

 

So, now you know a bit more about rattan in general, and what to look for when buying rattan furniture. Choose wisely, though, as a good set of rattan garden furniture will last you many years!