Cleaning wicker outdoor furniture is a simple process that extends the life of your pieces. 

Most people think wicker is a type of material but it is technically a process involving the weaving of natural plant fibers or synthetic material into furniture. All-weather wicker may be treated in a number of ways including paint, lacquer, varnish or shellac then coated with liquid furniture wax. You can leave this type of wicker outside year round and it should only need an occasional dusting.

How To Clean Wicker Outdoor Furniture:

It is best to bring untreated wicker indoors during bad weather. If left outside, often the legs will draw moisture from the ground and become moldy. Eventually, this will weaken the natural fibers and the legs will fail. Here is the recipe for cleaning wicker:

For routine cleaning:

  • Dust with either the upholstery attachment of a vacuum cleaner or a feather duster, in smaller areas, a dry paintbrush works well for removing dust
  • Wipe with a damp sponge
  • Remove any visible dirt by scrubbing gently with a dampened soft bristle brush
  • To avoid cracking in dry winter weather, apply a light coating of lemon oil

Once a year:

  • Scrub with warm water and mild detergent (avoid any untreated wooden parts), rinse with a garden hose
  • After scrubbing, dry it quickly in the sun, or use a blow dryer or floor fan
  • Do not use it until it is fully dry
  • Remove any rough spots with fine grit sandpaper
  • Clean painted wicker in the same way you would clean any painted wood, being careful not to get it too wet so that the paint cracks

With proper care and cleaning, your wicker furniture will last for many years.

Other wicker cleaning tips:

  • Remove any cushions from all-weather wicker when it rains, the cushions can hold moisture long enough to penetrate the finish and cause molding or cracking.
  • Even treated wicker feet can become susceptible to weather over time, every few years, the feet can be retreated. Use a light grit sandpaper to rough up the finish and brush on new lacquer, varnish or shellac
  • Use the same process in any area where the finish has worn away

The same steps can be used to clean indoor wicker furniture. The best recipe for cleaning wicker is to add about 1/4 cup of borax to a 2 gallon bucket of water. Borax is mild, bioegradeable and won’t hurt the environment.

Laura Vryhof is a mixed media artist, former photography teacher and a writer.

Laura writes under the pen name ReGina Welling.

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