How to clean rattan

Follow our guide on how to clean you rattan items

Published: February 24th, 2022 at 11:00 am
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Wicker furniture is made from a variety of materials: it may be woven from reed, bamboo or rattan, and these days robust synthetics are also made. What unites all of these is the weaving method rather than the material. Used indoors and out, wicker has been popular for centuries. It brings an exotic flavour to any setting, as well as being lightweight. The drawback is that natural wicker isn’t robust and, although it can be repaired, it may not be economically viable to do so. A few easy steps help to prolong its life and keep it looking its best.


When not in use, wicker is best stored under cover. Prolonged exposure to sunlight dries it out and can cause it to crack, while excessive damp can cause warping. Wicker furniture tends to be constructed with tied joints, which can become unglued with careless use, and damp also encourages mould and mildew. Use cushions on seats to help prevent sagging and put rubber stoppers on the bottom of legs to prevent splitting. Above all, a regular gentle clean will keep it looking its best and make it last longer.

2016_06_09_HOMES_&_ANTIQUES_RATTAN_KdeG_S07_012 KL NEW
Katya de Grunwald

You will need:

  • Dry paint brush
  • Soft cloth
  • A vacuum cleaner with a nozzle
  • Soap or detergent
  • Warm water
  • Small stiff-bristled brush – a nail brush or toothbrush is ideal
  • Bleach
  • Hair dryer
  • Boiled linseed oil (don’t use raw as it won’t harden)
  • Varnish or lacquer

How to clean rattan:

  1. Dust the furniture thoroughly using a dry cloth and dry paint brush. Vacuum gently with a nozzle attachment to remove as much loose dirt as possible – don’t forget to turn your furniture over and clean it thoroughly underneath as well.
  2. Add a squirt of detergent or soap into a bowl of water and stir it around rapidly to create plenty of foam.
  3. Skim some of the foam onto a brush, with as little water as possible, and gently sweep the surface of the furniture, making sure you get into the weave to dislodge any ingrained dirt.
  4. Wipe with a clean cloth and repeat until the cloth is clean.
  5. If the wicker is very dirty, you can use a little bleach in the water and dampen more rigorously. But make sure you dry the furniture immediately afterwards in the sun or with a hair dryer.
  6. Rattan can be restored using boiled linseed oil applied with a paint brush. Repeat several times until the rattan is saturated. Remove excess with a soft cloth and leave to harden.
  7. Apply a layer of lacquer or varnish.

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