Rattan furniture makes a stylish statement for both indoor and outdoor decor. The pieces are lightweight, durable, and eco-friendly. Rattan is a vine that is closely related to tropical palms; it grows into a cane that's 1 inch to 3 inches in diameter, which can be cut into lengths with a strong core and steamed to shape into curves. The outer skin of the vine is peeled off to create flexible lengths to bind furniture joints together.
Since rattan can become brittle or damaged when exposed to heat or moisture, a bit of care will keep the material clean and dust-free so it will last for years to come.
How Often to Clean Rattan Furniture
Because of the construction techniques used for rattan furniture, there are lots of nooks and crannies that can collect dust and dirt. The furniture should be dusted or vacuumed with an upholstery brush weekly. A more thorough damp cleaning should be done monthly. Any food, drink, or mud stains should be cleaned away immediately.
At least once a year, inspect the furniture for splits in the fibers and mold and mildew growth, especially if the rattan pieces have been outdoors. Take the time to clean away problems and recondition the fibers.
Equipment / Tools
- Vacuum with upholstery brush
- Soft cloths
- 2 buckets
- Rubber gloves
- Spoon or dull knife (optional)
- Compressed air (optional)
- Warm water
- Dishwashing liquid
- Chlorine bleach
- Boiled linseed oil
Instructions for Weekly Cleaning
Use a microfiber or disposable duster or a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery brush to dust the entire surface of rattan furniture. This will prevent excessive soil build-up in the weaving.
Removing Stubborn Build-Up
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove dust build-up in corners.
- Clean under cushions with the vacuum's crevice tool.
- Blast compressed air in tight areas to dislodge dust and dirt.
Clean Away Stains
If there is a food stain, drink spill, or muddy paw prints on rattan, they should be cleaned away as soon as possible. Do not try to rub away these stains because that will push the matter deeper into the woven fibers.
If there are solids involved, use a spoon or dull knife to lift them away from the rattan. Once the solids are removed, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the area and allow the rattan to air-dry.
Use a toothbrush to help loosen solids or other stains that have dried onto the rattan. Then, dampen a microfiber cloth and put just a drop of dishwashing liquid on the cloth. Wipe down the stained area. Follow up with a cloth dampened with fresh water and allow the area to air-dry.
Instructions for Monthly Cleaning
Always complete the weekly dusting and stain removal steps for rattan before doing a monthly cleaning.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Place 4 cups of warm water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a bucket or bowl. Agitate the water until suds form on the surface.
In a second bucket, add some fresh water for rinsing out the cleaning cloth.
Wipe Down Furniture
Dip a microfiber cloth into the suds and starting at the top of the rattan piece, wipe down the furniture. Frequently rinse the cleaning cloth in fresh water and wring until only slightly damp.
Use a toothbrush to remove any build-up in the weaving. Do not over-saturate the rattan with water.
Allow to Dry
Unless the rattan is overly-wet, allow it to air-dry. If there is excess water, use a soft cloth to dry the furniture.
Instructions for Yearly Cleaning
Once a year, all cushions should be removed, the furniture inspected for problems, and the rattan conditioned. Before beginning the thorough yearly cleaning, follow the steps for weekly and monthly cleaning.
Inspect Rattan for Problems
With all of the cushions removed, look for split or broken areas. If the furniture has been outside, check for mold and mildew, which usually occurs on the legs of the piece.
Remove Mold and Mildew
If there is mildew present, mix a solution of equal parts chlorine bleach and water. Wear protective gloves and dip a soft cloth in the bleach solution and apply to the area. Try not to saturate the rattan. Move the piece outdoors into the sun to dry as quickly as possible.
Condition the Rattan
After dusting, treating stains, eliminating any mildew, and cleaning with detergent suds, allow the rattan to dry completely. Once dry, dip a clean, soft cloth into boiled linseed oil to condition the rattan.
Starting at the top of the piece of furniture to prevent drips, wipe down the rattan with the oil. The oil will add moisture to the fibers to help prevent breakage. Allow the piece to dry completely for at least 48 hours before replacing cushions.
Buying Boiled Linseed Oil
Boiled linseed oil is used over regular linseed oil because it dries faster. Buy boiled linseed oil in home improvement stores.
Tips to Keep Your Rattan Furniture Clean Longer
- Do not drag rattan furniture across the floor. Lift rattan furniture evenly from each side to prevent excess stress to the fibers.
- Place rubber caps or felt pads under each leg to prevent excessive wear and splitting.
- Avoid placing rattan furniture in environments with excessive humidity or excessively low humidity to keep fibers well maintained.
- Rotate furniture to prevent the sun from causing excessive fading on one side.
- Use upholstered cushions in rattan seats to help distribute the sitter's weight and prevent the rattan from sagging.