Tips For Extending
the Lifespan Of Rattan Furniture
One of the most common questions we hear from customers is “How do you clean rattan furniture?” The good news is there is no secret formula needed to keep this kind of furniture clean, or special equipment or cleaning furniture. Rattan is one of the easiest materials to clean, which makes it ideal for anyone who leads a busy lifestyle.
But as easy as it is to clean, learning how to care for rattan garden furniture will play an important role in ensuring you get the most from your purchase. Garden rattan furniture is able to stand up to the testing nature of the British weather, however, it still requires some TLC along the way to ensure real longevity. If you want to know how to take care of rattan furniture, read our care and maintenance guide to learn everything you need to know.
How to clean rattan garden furniture
Remove the dust from your rattan furniture
Whether you keep your garden furniture inside or outside, dust is likely to form on the surface and build up over time (as much as 80% of dust is comprised of dead skin). However, if kept inside it will likely pick up even more dust, so it can only be ignored for so long.
The easiest way to remove dust from your rattan furniture is to use a vacuum cleaner. Start by removing the main attachment and replacing it with the smaller brush attachment. Remove the cushions and seat pads and once the vacuum is turned on, gently move it across the furniture. Doing this should pick up most dirt and dust that has been resting on the furniture. If you do not have a brush attachment you can use, a non-abrasive brush should be good enough, or you could even use a toothbrush or paintbrush to wipe away the surface dust.
It is always a good idea to dust down your rattan garden furniture at least once a week to prevent a build up of dust. Of course, this will not remove any deeper stains, but this first stage of cleaning is important to ensure none of the surface level dirt is mixed in with the deeper cleaning you will move onto next.
Cleaning your rattan furniture
The best way to clean rattan furniture is to use a simple mix of warm water and dish soap (Fairy Liquid for example). As a natural material you want to avoid using harsh detergent brands that can damage the texture and colour of the furniture. Dish soap contains the right amount of cleaning agents without being too overbearing for the material you want to wash. You won’t have to use too much, just a bucket of warm water and enough dish soap to create a good foam will be enough.
You also do not want to get the rattan too wet when cleaning. Once you have placed the sponge or soft cloth into the water, squeeze out some of the water, so the rattan isn’t saturated during cleaning. Natural rattan does have good natural protection against moisture, but only so much, and the last thing you want is for the cleaning process to be the reason for damaging the furniture.
Now you can start to clean the garden furniture, making sure to get into the tight weaves. A toothbrush might be more suitable for this part, although take care not to brush too vigorously, always use small soft circles to clean.
Once you have finished washing down your natural rattan outdoor furniture you should take the cloth and rinse out all of the soap suds. Rinse it in clean water, and making sure not to saturate it with too much water, run it over the rattan to remove any soap suds that are still on the material. You don’t have to worry about drying out the rattan as it can left along outside (providing it isn’t a rainy day) to dry off naturally.
How to clean rattan furniture cushions
The best general care advice for outdoor cushions on natural rattan furniture is to only keep them inside while the weather is good and the furniture is in use (which is generally during late-spring and throughout the summer). This is because while the material offers some natural protection against the rain, the integrity of the material will eventually be affected if left exposed to large amounts of moisture.
When it comes to cleaning the cushions, there are also some helpful guidelines to follow. For example, it is a good idea to regularly wash cushions and seat covers to keep them in good condition and to lower the chances of stubborn stains remaining. The covers on outdoor rattan furniture can easily be removed and replaced without much hassle. Using a regular cleaning detergent on the recommended wash temperature will be enough to remove most dirt marks.
How to care for rattan furniture with stains
It is to be expected that spillages and accidents will happen, especially if you are spending a lot of time using your patio furniture. Over time most rattan furniture will pick up marks and stains, especially if you tend to eat alfresco. Eating outdoors on rattan dining sets is one the best things about owning this type of furniture, but it does also mean you will have to deal with cleaning up stains on occasions, just as you would with indoor furniture.
As with anything type of spillage, the faster you can attend to it, the less likely it is that there will be any sort of permanent mark left on the material. The most important thing to do in these situations is to attend to the spillage as soon as possible to avoid it settling into the material. In the majority of cases rattan can simply be wiped clean, making it easy to avoid stains becoming embedded. Gently wipe the affected area with a soft cloth and soapy water, without scrubbing too hard to affect the weave.
Exposure to sun
Sun is good for you, but too much exposure to UV light may cause for your furniture to be damaged. Keep your garden set away from sources of extreme heat and naked flames. This includes direct sunlight and firepits. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may cause fading on rattan or cushions over time.
Dealing with mildew
Good garden furniture maintenance comes down to paying attention to the small details and that includes any black spots you may notice on the material. This will usually be mildew, which can appear on any type of outdoor furniture. Thankfully this is quite easy to remove, but the important thing is to get to it as soon as possible before it starts to spread.
To remove mildew from the rattan, mix together a blend of 50/50 bleach and water. Take a soft bristle brush and dip this into the water before lightly scrubbing, which should enable it to come off quite easily. Once you have finished make sure you rinse off the rattan (not using too much water) to ensure any bleach residue has been removed.
If this is not enough to remove the mildew you will have to be a little more targeted on each stain. Take a Q-tip and dip this into the bleach and rub this into the individual mildew marks. As before, be sure to rinse off the rattan with water to remove the bleach residue and then let it dry. To avoid mildew forming again, rattan furniture is best left in areas that have good air flow and low levels of humidity.
Protecting your rattan furniture
Good garden furniture care isn’t just about being reactive by removing stains from the material and cleaning it after it has picked up dirt and grime. There is another way you can help protect your furniture all year round that can reduce the amount of maintenance and care you have to provide.
Weatherproof rattan furniture is standard as the material has natural properties that can deal with a certain degree of rain, frost and UV rays. Like most other natural materials there is a limit to how much exposure they should receive to certain elements before you start to see adverse affects. For example, leaving rattan exposed to continual high levels of heat could eventually lead to it splitting and cracking as it dries out. This can be easily avoided by placing the future in the shade to reduce the amount of exposure it has to UV rays.
However, not everyone has a shaded area in the garden, or enough storage space to place the furniture anywhere else other than in the garden. The best way around this is to invest in a protective cover that can be placed over the furniture at any time, protecting it from the rain, snow, UV rays and anything else that could harm it if left exposed for too long.
These weatherproof garden furniture covers are cost effective and last for years, keeping the furniture shielded from the elements and also meaning it can be left in place in the garden without having to be removed off-season.
Dealing with split rattan
Like any kind of natural material, rattan will react to its immediate environment. So while the material originally comes from a hot country, you still need to pay attention to the surrounding temperature after it arrives. Often if left exposed to severe levels of heat for too long, rattan garden furniture can begin to dry which can then lead to warping or cracks developing.
To avoid this occurring, apply tung or boiled linseed oil to the surface of the material. Linseed oil is extracted from flax seed and is used as a preservative on a number of different surfaces including rattan, wood and even concrete. You can buy linseed oil from any number of online outlets and it is very easy to apply. There will be instructions provided with each product, but in general terms it requires you to use a soft brush to use it on the rattan. One you have applied enough, you let the rattan dry and harden before using the furniture again.
Protect the feet
Not only do you want to protect the feet of a rattan outdoor sofa, garden dining set or rattan chairs, but also the floor too. The constant movement of the furniture can create small areas of damage that may escalate over time. While it’s easier to push and pull rattan furniture across the floor instead of lifting it, this could lead to unsightly scuffs marks being made that are difficult to remove.
One of the great things about rattan is that it is relatively lightweight and easy to move. If you remove the cushions and seat padding, this will reduce the weight even further. For larger pieces of furniture use two or more people to lift the piece from its current location to its new home, which should make the task much easier.
Another good idea is to add rubber stoppers to the feet of the furniture. Not only can scuff marks appear when pulling furniture around, but over time marks can also appear underneath the feet due to the continued pressure placed onto the furniture when in use. Rubber stoppers can help in both instances, and also protect the material at the bottom of the furniture from deteriorating.
Cleaning wicker furniture
Natural wicker furniture is made from either bamboo, reed or rattan, so cleaning this type of furniture requires you to use the same methods we described above.
Wicker furniture is often confused as being its own material, but use of the word ‘wicker’ describes the weaving method used to construct each piece. So if you own wicker furniture, the chances are that you own rattan furniture. That means you can use our rattan care and maintenance guide to get the very best results.
Dust down your furniture, vacuum away any loose dirt from corners and crevices and then start to clean the wicker lightly. Whether it’s rattan, reed or bamboo (see our previous blog to see the difference between rattan vs bamboo), be careful not to get the material too wet or use any harsh products for general cleaning purposes. Avoid scrubbing away stains with too much force as this could split the weave, and once you have finished it can be left to dry outside before you start to use it again.
Cleaning wicker furniture
Aim for light cleaning
No matter what type of rattan garden furniture you have it needs to be treated with gentle care when it comes to cleaning. Whether you own a rattan outdoor sofa, armchair or garden dining set, it’s best to avoid applying any sort of harsh cleaning chemicals that could damage the integrity of the material. Even furniture polish is not really a requirement when it comes to cleaning furniture for the garden. Use a soft cloth to wipe away dirt and there are other methods that can be used to remove deeper stains and marks.
Avoid using too much water
Your rattan garden furniture should never need more than soapy water when it comes to having a slightly heavier clean. However, be sure never to drench your rattan chairs in water as over saturation can potentially weaken the material and even lead to mould and rot. Always wring out the cloth before applying it to the rattan and once you have finished cleaning try to leave the furniture outside to dry naturally.
Clean out crevices and corners
While wiping down the arms, legs and seating areas of rattan garden furniture is a relatively straightforward job, you may be stuck on how to get into the crevices and corners of the seating area. The most simple way to clean rattan chairs and garden sofa sets is to use a vacuum and brush attachment. This will get into those hard to reach areas to clean up small pieces of food and dust that settles into the nooks of the chair.
Mildew should never be ignored
If left untouched the mildew can quickly spread and ruin garden rattan furniture entirely, so it needs to be dealt with as soon as it is spotted. When used as conservatory furniture, rattan needs to be kept warm and dry with good levels of ventilation to discourage mould from forming. But if you do spot mildew of any kind, scrub it away with a soft brush using a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. Wipe down the rest of the furniture with a damp cloth to remove any residue and then use a damp cloth to wipe down again with clean water. It’s also a good idea to pat the furniture for garden down with kitchen paper to absorb some of the moisture, before leaving it to dry naturally.
Good care and maintenance is at the heart of all reliable garden furniture cleaning. Just as you would with your indoor furniture, it pays to give your rattan furniture the right amount of care attention so it can remain in good condition for as long as possible. In many ways it will become the centrepiece for outdoor entertainment at home, and giving it that extra bit of TLC will make all the difference.
The more care you can give to your rattan furniture, the less likely it is that you will be searching for a replacement in a few years’ time. Taking care of it includes including it in your regular cleaning schedule every week. This doesn’t mean washing it down from top to bottom, but even light dusting will have a positive effect, and it will also lessen the amount of maintenance required in the long run. We recommend washing the material every 1-2 months, depending on how frequently it is used.
The protective weather cover will also play an important role in providing long-term protection. Many customers invest in a cover as soon as they buy their furniture, giving them even more protection from the moment they start to use it. This also gives them the option to leave the furniture outdoors when not in use, letting the cover protect their investment.
Compared to timber and metal furniture, rattan is by far the easiest to maintain. Cleaning requirements are much lighter and you don’t have to worry about repeatedly varnishing the material to keep its good looks in place. It’s one of many reasons why rattan has become such a common feature in UK households, making them the perfect furniture for use year-round.