How to Care for Indoor Natural Wicker Furniture

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Wicker File Cabinet

Natural Wicker File Cabinet

Indoor wicker furniture is made from natural materials, not synthetic materials. Like any other woody materials, the surface of the whip is not smooth and is porous and will absorb water and hold dirt.

Keep your indoor natural wicker furniture cleaned regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to regularly clean the dust out from between the weave. Dirt that builds up in the weave can become very difficult to remove if left go for long periods of time. So, if your home tends to have high dust or dirt in the air or on your clothes, you should be sweeping your furniture at least every few months. Doing so will ensure that the finish stays clear of dirt and grime.

When your natural wicker furniture becomes dirty and will not clean up with regular vacuuming, you need to get a little more serious about your cleaning method. It’s time to break out the cleaning tools and products that clean the dirt off, but leave the natural wicker unmarred from the cleaning process.

To spot clean, you will need an old tooth brush and follow these steps:

  • Use a small container about the size of a 12 oz. soup can. Add a few drops of dish soap into the container and dilute it by filling the container about half way with hot or warm tap water.
  • Dampen the tooth brush with the diluted solutions and spot scrub your wicker.
  • After cleaning the spot with the brush, wipe up the residual soap on the spot using an old wash cloth with cold water until the excess water is removed. Wiping and rinsing several times will nicely remove any soapy residue, but leave the natural wicker damp.
  • Allow the damp wicker to thoroughly dry. This may take several hours depending on how much water is absorbed into the natural wicker fibers and the humidity in the air.  Direct sunshine and high air flow will speed up the drying process.

Be sure not to soak too large of an area more than six inches in diameter at a time until it thoroughly dries. Allowing the spot to dry before you go on to the next spot is essential if you plan to do the entire piece of furniture or large areas. The reason is that wetting large portions of the wicker furniture can cause it to deform.

Stubborn stains can occur with indoor natural wicker that is used outdoors. Stubborn stains can include dirt, mold, mildew and other contaminants. You may sacrifice your finish color, cause your wicker furniture to become loose or even cause the natural wicker material to degrade by using harsh chemicals or excessive abrasive techniques. When you venture into this territory you risking damaging your furniture. However, if you are the risky type and like a challenge, you probably can clean the majority of dirt, mold and mildew stained furniture. You will especially need to take drastic measures if you plan to paint soiled natural wicker furniture.

When removing heavy dirt and grime from your natural wicker furniture, it may not be practical to do small six inch sections at a time and wait for it to dry. You will be tempted to and probably will take a more aggressive approach for dirty grimy wicker. If you are willing to risk the potential warping, sagging or unraveling of your wicker furniture, you can try to aggressively clean your dirty grimy furniture with a three to four inch soft scrub brush and liquid solution of dish soap in a basin.

The same solution you would use in a sink if you were washing dishes. You automatic dish washer users who never washed a dish in a sink using dish detergent are going to be going crazy trying to figure this recipe out! Scrub down the entire piece of furniture without trying to soak the fibers. Work on a six inch square area at a time using the same method described above. After you have completed, place the furniture out in the warm sun to dry or use a fan and allow it to blow across the damp wicker furniture until it is completely dry. Do not sit or depress any parts of the wicker while it is wet, or else it may become deformed. Adjust any deformed sections keeping them in place until dry.

Drastic measures require drastic solutions. If you have let your natural wicker go and have allowed it to get mold and mildew fungus on it, you have a bigger problem. Furniture that has mildew will not hold paint and will retain smells and allergens until they are removed. Before you start the next procedure, make sure you are in a well ventilated area.

Mix an 80% water and 20% laundry bleach solution in a hand held sprayer applied liberally on the wicker in every nook and cranny and this will generally kill the fungus and clean the surface without scrubbing and remove the smell. Spray it on and let it dry in the well ventilated area while using rubber gloves and goggles that seal around your eyes. Preferably, do it outside. Chlorine fumes can be dangerous, so if you use bleach to clean your wicker, use extreme care.

The residual bleach odor will dissipate in a few days from the furniture. Remember to empty the spray bottle out when you are done so that it can’t be mistaken for water. After a few days, evaluate whether you need to do a second cleaning.

Typically, refinishing with a good enamel paint or clear finish will restore its elegance.

Other toxic and non-toxic methods to kill fungus are also available. You can do an internet search on the phrase “how to kill mold and mildew” and you can find different commercially available products that will kill and remove the fungus. The only issue is, you will need to figure out how to use them.

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