Woven furniture, like wicker, webbing, and straw-based items, add style and personality to both indoor and outdoor spaces alike. Woven or wicker products should be well-maintained and properly cleaned to keep them in tip-top shape. Read more to learn about how to keep your indoor or outdoor furniture in mint condition.
What Is Woven Furniture?
Woven furniture is a popular choice for both outdoor and indoor spaces. Pieces like sofas, daybeds, patio chairs, armchairs, and tables can bring comfort, enjoyment and a touch of personal style to your home. Woven furniture comes in many styles and is made of a variety of materials. Rattan -- a durable vine similar in appearance and touch to bamboo -- has exploded in recent years. Rattan is one example of a material that is made into furniture using a weaving process. Wicker is not material itself; rather, it describes the process of weaving together synthetic fibers to create something rigid. Wicker products may be made of any combination of vines and grasses, including rattan, reed, willow, and bamboo. Woven furniture is ideal for almost all climates, is eco-friendly, and can be mixed and matched with different decor styles and colors.
What Is Wicker Furniture?
Wicker-made furniture is a popular choice for outdoor spaces because it is extremely weather-resistant and durable. Many homeowners today opt for the casual yet trendy wicker aesthetic to decorate spaces like sun porches, backyards, decks, patios and pool areas. Wicker is not limited to outdoor use, however; many people opt for modern wicker or rattan pieces like dressers, kitchen chairs, dining room tables, side chairs, and end tables ( just to name a few) to bring the outdoors inside.
These days, most wicker furniture products are woven from polyethylene resin, a synthetic wicker that is very strong and does not fade quickly. Almost all wicker materials can be painted, stained, or left untreated. Wicker products hold up outstandingly well outdoors even with high sun exposure and dry conditions factored in. Although impervious to most harsh weather, wicker should not be left out long in the rain and it may cause the material to mildew and rot. Traditional wicker absorbs moisture, so humid conditions can cause it to warp over time. Too much rain can loosen joints and will weaken the fibers. All-weather wicker is the only kind of wicker designed to resist all weather conditions while maintaining its original shape.
When properly cleaned and maintained, wicker furniture is expected to last up to 15 years. However, wicker must be properly cleaned and tended to in order to look its best.
General Tips for Cleaning Woven Furniture
Just as you would clean your rugs, kitchen floors, and upholstery when you clean the house, you also need to care for your furniture. Woven furniture is no exception. Woven can collect dust, debris, and dirt just like any other material.
Bringing out the vacuum is always a good first step. Using a vacuum with a brush attachment can target tiny dust mites that build up on furniture. Keep the vacuum on the lowest setting if possible to avoid damaging woven furniture.
As a rule of thumb, you should clean wood and cushions separately. Your cushions probably come with their own specialized care instructions; follow this guidance and tend to the wooden parts separately. For wood, you can spot clean on dirty areas and/or use a vacuum cleaner brush to target dust and debris.
When spot cleaning, use only soft materials to scrub the wood. Avoid harsh abrasives such as steel wool or stiff brushes. Coarse, stiff scrubbing can damage the wood. Abrasive cleaning may leave permanent scratches and marks that you won’t be able to get rid of easily. Opt instead for a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush to wipe away dirt and debris on wicker pieces.
Spot Cleaning Woven Furniture
For a lot of woven furniture, all you’ll need to spot clean is some old-fashioned soap and water. It’s best to avoid abrasive chemical cleaning products that may bleach the color of the weave. Use a small brush (even a toothbrush will do-- this helps you reach tiny nooks and crannies) to gently scrub dirt off. You can leave the wicker damp-- just make sure to remove all soapy residue. If you are cleaning a large area, you may want to take it slow. Clean it section by section rather than wetting the entire piece all at once-- a dripping wet piece of woven furniture can cause it to deform throughout the dying process.
Cleaning Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew can grow on your woven furniture if it’s kept out for long periods of time in humid or rainy environments. Don’t throw your furniture away if you spot mold or mildew-- there are simple and easy ways to clean it. First, use a duster or vacuum brush to get rid of any dust. Then, use a solution of one-part vinegar and four-parts water. Wipe the solution over the affected areas using a rag, microfiber cloth or toothbrush. Do not use bleach on woven furniture. After cleaning off mildew and mold, wipe furniture clean with a little soap and water. And remember-- avoid keeping woven furniture out in humidity or moist environments for a long time to prevent mold and mildew from growing back.
Outdoor Vs Indoor Maintenance
Not all woven furniture pieces are made equally. Some products come with their own specialized care instructions, in which case you should follow them. Some cleaning approaches are suitable only for outdoor furniture, while others are best for indoors. Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements and, predictably, will get dirtier than indoor furniture. If your favorite outdoor piece is extremely dirty (think: mud, pets tracking dirt in, etc.), use a handheld steam cleaner and dry with a hair dryer.
You can use a garden hose to wash down outdoor furniture. Most outdoor furniture can be tended to with a generous supply of soap and water. For indoor furniture, you will need to be more intentional so as not to make a mess. After you are finished cleaning your furniture, carefully rinse off the soap with a wet rag and dry with a hair dryer or put outside to dry (unless the environment is extremely humid). For best results, control humidity levels indoors. Use a humidifier in drier environments to avoid cracking or drying. Use a dehumidifier in moist environments for best drying results.
Check For Damage
A thorough cleaning may be a good time to inspect the furniture and see how it has stood up to the elements. Check your furniture regularly for discoloration, broken slats, wobbly legs, and other wear and tear. A lot of repairs, like damaged or broken slats or reed pieces, can be made with wood glue. Let the glue dry entirely before you continue with cleaning.
Untreated wood can be restored with linseed oil. To protect your woven furniture, seal with a formulated wax, varnish or lacquer. Linseed oil protects its shine and prevents discoloration. Of course, if your furniture is in need of bigger repairs, get in touch with an expert repair person to do the job for you. Some pieces are beyond repair, in which case it’s time to buy new furniture.