How to Clean Rattan Furniture

rattan furniture

​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

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 one to three 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.

As with any furniture, a bit of care will keep rattan 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 and 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.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Boiled linseed oil

Tools

  • Duster
  • Vacuum with upholstery brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Two buckets
  • Rubber gloves
materials for cleaning rattan furniture
​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Instructions for Weekly Cleaning

  1. Remove Dust

    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.

    vacuuming rattan furniture
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

    Tips

    To remove dust-build up from hard-to-clean spots:


    • A soft-bristled toothbrush is an excellent tool to remove dust build-up in corners.
    • Use the vacuum crevice tool to clean under cushions.
    • If dust just won't budge, use a blast of compressed air to dislodge it from a tight area.
  2. Clean Away Stains

    If there is a food or drink spill or muddy paw prints on rattan, they should be cleaned away as soon as possible. If there are solids involved, use a spoon or dull knife to lift them away from the rattan. NEVER rub because that will push the matter deeper into the woven fibers. Use a paper towel or old cloth to blot away liquid stains.

    Once the solids are removed, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the area and allow the rattan to air-dry.

    If the stain has dried on the rattan, use a toothbrush to help loosen solids. 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.

    using an old cloth to wipe a piece of rattan furniture
    ​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Instructions for Monthly Cleaning

Always complete the weekly dusting and stain removal steps for rattan before doing a monthly cleaning.

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Place four cups of warm water and one 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.

    sudsy water mixture in the sink
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  2. 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.

    using a toothbrush to scrub any solids off of the furniture
    ​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  3. 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.

  1. 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.

    getting a closer look at rattan furniture
    ​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  2. Remove Mold and Mildew

    If there is mildew present, mix a one-to-one solution of chlorine bleach and water. Wearing gloves, dip a soft cloth in the bleach solution and apply to the mildewed area. Try not to saturate the rattan. Move the piece outdoors into the sun to dry as quickly as possible.

    bleach solution and rubber gloves
    ​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  3. Condition the Rattan

    After dusting, treating stains and mildew, and cleaning with detergent suds, allow the rattan to dry completely. Once dry, dip a clean, soft cloth into boiled linseed oil. Starting at the top of the piece to prevent drips, wipe down the rattan. 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.

    linseed oil and a cloth
    ​The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

Tips to Help Rattan Furniture Last Longer

  1. Lift rattan furniture evenly from each side to prevent excess stress to the fibers. Never drag rattan furniture!
  2. Place rubber caps or felt pads under each leg to prevent excessive wear and splitting.
  3. Avoid excessive humidity and excessively low humidity for well-maintained fibers.
  4. Rotate furniture to prevent excessive fading on one side from the sun.
  5. Use upholstered cushions in rattan seats to help distribute the sitter's weight and prevent sagging.