Rattan Refresh: How To Clean Rattan Furniture Safely

Natural rattan furniture is among the most robust and eco-friendly types of furniture you can buy. It's crafted by expert artisans from a species of climbing palm, known as lianas, that can grow up to 100 meters long.

Because this unique material is naturally sourced, it's 100% biodegradable, meaning it can decompose without harming our planet. 

Rattan also excels in sustainability more than natural wood, because it only takes 2 years to reach full maturity, unlike trees which take around 10 years minimum. This means it can be harvested without causing deforestation, making it a renewable material.

With the right love and care, your Rattan furniture can serve your home for many lifetimes! This jam-packed article will explain how to clean rattan furniture, provide expert tips to ensure its longevity, unveil how you can repair rattan furniture, and much more! By reading our guide, you will understand how to care for your rattan furniture like a pro.

8-Step Clean & Care Guide for Natural Rattan Furniture

With the right care, natural rattan furniture can illuminate your home with an everlasting glow for many lifetimes. You'll be pleased to know that not much time or effort is needed to maintain this wonderful furniture, making it hassle-free. You just need to ensure you follow our recommended practices to protect it and ensure its enduring elegance and functionality.

Whether you own indoor rattan furniture or have garden furniture that needs refreshing, this complete ten-step guide will showcase every effective way you can clean and care for your rattan furniture safely.

#1 Wipe Your Furniture with a Soft Cloth

Wiping your rattan furniture with a soft cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, will effectively remove any dirt and restore its natural shine. A soft cloth will also work wonders to remove things like soil and bird droppings on your rattan garden furniture, ensuring it stays pristine throughout the year.

If you want to remove stains or sticky debris from spillages, you can use a damp cloth to remove any grime. If any stains are stubborn, you could make a mild cleansing solution with some dish soap and warm water.

#2 Regularly Dust Your Furniture

Like any furniture in your home, rattan furniture can collect dust - especially if it’s wicker furniture. Because Wicker furniture is handwoven, dust can often gather in the gaps and folds of the rattan. You can easily get rid of dust by using a soft bristle brush, or a feather duster. Because these cleaning tools are flexible, they can get in between any crevices to ensure a thorough clean.

#3 Routinely Inspect Your Rattan Furniture for Mold and Mildew

Because rattan furniture is made from an organic material, it's susceptible to developing mold and mildew - especially outdoor furniture as it's regularly exposed to moisture. The earlier you catch any development of mold or mildew, the easier it will be to remove.

One way you can check for fungus is by visually inspecting it. Typical visual indicators of mold include discoloration and black speckles/spots. Ensure you pay close attention to your rattan garden furniture, particularly if you store it in shaded, damp areas, as mold thrives in these conditions.

You can also smell your rattan furniture to determine whether anything might grow on it. If your furniture smells musty, it may have spores developing. Another test you can do is touching your furniture. If it feels slimy, damp, or soft, this may suggest the growth of mold or mildew.

To remove and prevent fungus from affecting your items, you can create a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean rattan furniture. Using a soft bristle brush, you can gently scrub away the spores. After cleaning rattan furniture to remove mold, ensure you thoroughly dry it and clean any tools used to prevent reinfection.

#4 Keep Your Rattan Furniture Away from Direct Sunlight

The sun's UV-rays can disrupt the shape of rattan furniture, causing it to warp, and fade its natural color. It can also dry out your furniture, which can lead to chipping, cracking, and even breaking of its surfaces and legs. It's essential you keep your rattan furniture away from direct sunlight to prevent the sun from damaging it.

To minimize your furniture's contact with the sun, you can opt for curtains/blinds in rooms that catch a lot of natural light. You can also place any rattan garden furniture you may have in shaded areas. If you want to take extra precautionary measures, you can also coat your rattan furniture in UV-protective coatings.

#5 Cover Your Rattan Garden Furniture

Because rattan garden furniture is exposed to weather, such as humidity, rain, and hailstones, it's more prone to deterioration than indoor rattan furniture. It's therefore crucial that you protect it when you aren't using it.

You can invest in UV-protective and water-resistant outdoor furniture coverings, as this will effectively prevent your outdoor items from getting damaged, and ensure that it doesn't warp or swell from heat and moisture.

#6 Periodically Apply Lemon Oil to Maintain Your Furniture's Strength

Lemon oil is a fantastic natural essential oil that's extracted from lemon peels. It's notoriously great for cleaning and maintaining wicker furniture, as it maintains the vibrancy of rattan and effectively removes dirt and grime - it also smells delightful!

Lemon oil can also prevent your furniture from cracking, as it effectively penetrates the material and moisturizes it. We recommend misting your furniture every three to four weeks to maintain its condition.

#7 Apply Felt Pads and Sliders Beneath Your Furniture

Overtime, friction can wear in rattan furniture and cause breakage. You can easily protect your items, such as tables and chairs, from wearing by applying felt pads and sliders beneath the feet. This won't just protect your furniture, but will also protect your floor from getting scratched.

Because felt is a very thin material, you don't have to worry about pads or sliders disrupting the aesthetic of your beautiful rattan pieces as they are virtually invisible.

#8 Use Coasters and Placemats To Protect Rattan Surfaces

The last thing anyone wants is to have unsightly mug marks spoiling their beautiful rattan furniture. Ensuring you use coasters when placing your beverages on your rattan coffee table will prevent any stains from ruining its stunning finish.

If you have a rattan dining table, it's best advised to use placemats during mealtime. This won't just prevent food spillages from staining your rattan table, but will also make cleaning after meals less hassle.

Repairing & Restoring Rattan Furniture

Aside from ensuring you clean rattan furniture regularly, it's equally important to restore any minor flaws that may show over the years. Repairing and restoring your natural wicker furniture, no matter how small a flaw may be, will keep it strong and ensure its longevity for many more years. Here are some key solutions to common repair and restoration concerns:

Problem: Splits and Cracks

Solution: Rattan is susceptible to becoming dry which can lead to cracking and splitting of the material. However, you can restore cracks and splits in your rattan furniture, and prevent it from drying out, by applying boiled linseed oil with a large soft bristle brush.

We advise you to coat your furniture in as much oil as it can absorb to ensure it's thoroughly coated and moisturized - you can wipe away any remainder with a soft cloth. You should do this at least once a year.

Problem: Unstable Joints

Solution: Over time, the joints in rattan chairs and tables may loosen, causing furniture to become wobbly. However, this doesn't mean you should throw it out! You can easily reinforce your items joints by tightening existing screws or re-attaching legs with new ones, using a screwdriver. You can also apply specialized wood glue to secure damaged joints.

Problem: Unraveling Wicker

Solution: Because wicker is a handwoven pattern, it can unravel. If your wicker furniture is separating or loosen, it's important to quickly re-weave it before it completely unravels. We recommend leaving this job for an expert wicker hand-weaver/repairer to ensure it's restored correctly.

If the repair is significantly minor, you may DIY it. If you try to restore unraveled wicker, ensure you soak new rattan strands in warm water to make it soft. Once it's pliable enough, you can wrap it around your furniture.

Problem: Stubborn Stains and Chipped Paint

Solution: If your rattan furniture has stubborn stains that you can't clean away, or if the existing paint is chipping away, you can easily apply a new finish to restore its appearance.

Before you apply anything to your rattan furniture, you must ensure it's properly prepped. This involves cleaning your item and sanding it to ensure the paint bonds properly and leaves a smooth finish. 

You can then apply paint -we recommend using a specialized wood paint. To prevent the fresh coat from chipping in the future, you can seal it with a furniture varnish or protective sealant.

Synthetic Rattan Furniture vs. Natural Rattan Furniture: Which Lasts Longer?

Both synthetic and natural rattan make popular furnishing materials, but which is better?

Synthetic rattan is less delicate than natural rattan furniture and can be maintained with less precision and caution. For instance, you could use a garden hose to clean synthetic rattan furniture. However, just because it can withstand harsher cleaning does not mean it lasts longer than natural rattan furniture.

Synthetic rattan furniture can actually crack and fade far easier than natural rattan, especially if it's frequently used. It can also fade much easier when exposed to direct sunlight. In extreme temperatures, synthetic rattan can also become brittle and disintegrate, unlike natural rattan that can withstand most weather, with the right care.

While synthetic rattan is cheaper than real rattan, its limited longevity can incur additional costs down the line, as you will have to frequently repair and replace items. Because synthetic rattan is commonly made with plastic, it presents negative environmental effects.

You’ll also find that most manufacturers finish synthetic rattan products with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These substances present dangerous health effects that can harm you and your family.

By opting for authentic rattan furniture, you'll be investing in a long-lasting piece that is fortified with remarkable craftship. Rattan has been tried and tested as home furniture for centuries, demonstrating its resilience through the ages. 

Its natural resilience makes it robust and less prone to damage, so long as you care for it correctly. It’s also an exceptionally sustainable furniture option, given how fast rattan can grow and renew.


What Is the Best Way To Clean Rattan Furniture?

Cleaning rattan furniture is easy as it doesn't require any excessive cleaning products or equipment. All you need is a microfiber cloth or brush and a gentle hand to remove any dirt, dust, or stains on your items.

How Do You Make Rattan Furniture Look New?

By wiping your rattan with a damp cloth, you can instantly refresh its appearance. You can also apply lemon oil or boiled linseed oil to prevent and repair cracks - this will also restore your furniture's exquisite glow!

If you notice any flaws in the finish of your rattan, such as paint chipping, you can make it look brand new with a fresh coat of paint and some varnish or sealant.

What Is Wicker Furniture?

Wicker furniture is made by weaving rattan into intricate patterns. You will typically find panels of wicker on the backs of rattan chairs, lampshades, headboards, wall decor, and so forth.

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