How to clean and maintain synthetic rattan garden furniture

The approach of Summer and the terrible weather we seem to be having this Spring, surely means we are in for a cracking summer?!

The approach of Summer and the terrible weather we seem to be having this Spring, surely means we are in for a cracking summer?!?! We can only hope that many weeks of al fresco dining lie ahead of us and this brings up the problem of having to get your garden furniture out of storage or from under its winter covers. And if it is looking a little less than happy, then never fear, Lazy Susan is on hand. You don’t need to worry about buying new furniture (although we would recommend Lazy Susan if you do need to purchase new), with a little minor TLC and a little effort you can have that garden furniture looking as good as new.


When cleaning any type of garden furniture only clean the cushions when it is absolutely necessary and this will keep the cushion fabric from wear and tear. And even if the furniture stays outside for the winter or during any summer rain, you should still keep or bring the cushions inside. When washing natural rattan, always use a soft cloth that has been dampened with furniture polish or a mild washing-up liquid/warm water mix. Water and soap can fade the appearance of the furniture, so you only need a tiny drop of washing up liquid to remove any dirt, furniture polish on the other hand really helps to enhance the appearance.

Maintaining rattan furniture from abrasion will require that you keep the pets away from the furniture as they may scratch of the coating or topple over any fragile components of the garden furniture. Ensure that you use a natural bristle brush because it is soft enough to keep the rattan from damage and flexible enough to reach the hidden parts of the furniture. In an effort to avoid damage to furniture, see that those around the furniture sit on the cushions and not on the arms or any other structure. Rattan is as beautiful as it is durable, so most rattan furniture needs only basic cleaning and care to preserve its natural strength and color. Follow these basic steps and you can keep your rattan furniture looking as beautiful as the day you purchased it:

  • You really need to clean the surface of wicker and rattan fairly regularly. A monthly or even weekly cleaning is the best way to protect your rattan furniture and prevent major damage. Clean with a little dishwashing detergent diluted into water. Skim the suds off the top of the water with a soft cloth and then wipe the furniture’s surface without getting the wood wet. Be sure to get into crevices and grooves with a toothbrush or other small soft bristle brush.
  • Keep the furniture indoors. While rattan certainly likes humidity, it is not outdoor furniture. Keep your rattan indoors and preferably out of direct sunlight and the furniture will last long and look better.
  • Care for stains or other major damage immediately. Use detergent and a cloth to scrub out stains as soon as they occur. For more serious damage like cracking or splitting of the wood, try boiled linseed oil to put moisture back into the material. For the real tough stuff, contact a rattan or wicker expert who can care for the wood with expertise.
  • Do a major cleaning once a year. A thorough cleaning will take care of any dirt that has built up and will also prevent future damage. Scrub the rattan with detergent, using slightly more water than you use for the weekly cleaning. Then, dry the wood as quickly as possible, using a hair dryer or setting the furniture in the sun. Finally, apply a coat of shellac or lacquer to seal the wood until the next year’s cleaning.
  • Place rubber stoppers underneath the legs of the furniture. Keeping a bit of rubber between the wood and the floor will prevent unnecessary damage and splitting of the rattan.

Synthetic or poly wicker and rattan on the other-hand, such as that sold by Lazy Susan, is fully weatherproof because the furniture is constructed around an aluminium frame that is wrapped with an extra protective powder coated layer. A high-quality synthetic wicker thread is then woven around this coated aluminum framework, which is UV-resistant and therefore colourfast too. Our rattan and wicker garden furniture is totally weatherproof and can be kept outside all year, although during sub-zero temperatures we would still advise you to store it indoors or cover it with breathable cover. This is basically because freezing temperatures make the thread less flexible and may cause it to snap or crack. However, if you take a few basic steps and if you clean your wicker garden furniture twice a year then it will remain in good condition for many years (and hopefully warm summers) to come.

You can extend significantly extend the life of synthetic wicker and rattan garden furniture by cleaning it correctly at proper intervals and by preventing damage to the wicker threads. When cleaning your wicker and rattan garden furniture all you need to use is a bucket of lukewarm water, a soft sponge or cloth and a non-scouring pH-neutral detergent. It is a good idea to rinse down the furniture with cold water afterwards too and this can easily be done with a garden hose (do not use a pressure washer as this could damage the material). At Lazy Susan we strongly advise our customers against cleaning your rattan and wicker garden furniture with any scouring and/or bleaching agents or an all-purpose cleaner as they can lead to tiny cracks in the poly threads which will accumulate dirt, or cause the furniture to turn white/discolour. If you cannot effectively clean the surface with a simple detergent solution then we would recommend the use of specialist plastic cleaner such as the excellent HG Plastic Garden Furniture Restorer.

If your rattan and wicker garden furniture has been exposed to the elements for a good period of time, then it may require a little extra careful maintenance. Exposure to sun, wind and rain will cause dirt to build up on your garden furniture and make it uncomfortable to sit on and rather unsightly, not to mention that your wicker garden furniture’s lifespan is shortened. Firstly, at Lazy Susan we would advise that you try and lightly wash your wicker garden furniture frequently. Do not neglect your wicker garden furniture, when it is necessary to remove ground in dirt and stains with a damp brush or cloth towel, then do so. If you have a garden hose handy, then you should spray a fine mist mister on furniture with mild detergent. This is great for natural fibers such as cane, wicker and bamboo too. Be sure to always completely rinse the furniture and remove any detergents. It is also very important to let them dry in direct sunlight.

When necessary or at least very few months, its a good idea to take a vacuum cleaner and hoover off your rattan and wicker garden furniture. If you have a brush attachment for the end of your vacuum then use this as it will penetrate between the poly fibers and remove any loose dirt. This is a really good way to get things in the nooks and crannies. Hoovering is generally safe for all types of wicker, both natural and synthetic. In the UK it is pretty much impossible to prevent your garden furniture from getting wet at some point . You don’t want to be bringing it out all the time and getting caught in the odd shower will do it no harm at all. However, there is every chance you could find mold and mildew, but by using sing a combination of hot water and a small amount of bleach to clean the rattan and wicker, it can easily be removed. This also works well with natural bamboo, wicker, rattan or reed too. You can apply the bleach solution and warm water with a cloth and or soft broistled brush. Shake thoroughly dry and remove any standing water as soon as possible, then leave you garden furniture to sit in direct sunlight.

If possible keep your rattan and wicker garden furniture in direct sun. If using in a covered area then move it every few weeks to give him some fresh light. This will help prevent any mold and mildew growth. This is especially important with white natural wicker furniture. To keep your wicker garden furniture clean will prolong its lifespan, and with consistent and careful cleaning and maintenance will keep it strong and inviting. When it comes to natural rattan and wicker that has become especially soiled or stained, you can also use a wash cloth and some dishwashing liquid. Wipe it off with a paper towel or a dry cloth afterward to keep it from getting too saturated with water.

Sometimes, the pieces of natural wicker can warp as it is and extremely pliable material, and when it becomes wet or is repeatedly stressed in a certain direction, the pieces can move around a little. Thankfully, this can also work to your advantage once it has become warped or misshapen, you can simply saturate the warped piece with some water and move it back into place. Taping, using a vice, or some other method of holding the warped area in place as it dries will help to ensure it dries to the correct/desired shape. Allow it to dry completely, then remove the tape or vice. Another possible problem with natural wicker and rattan is that a piece of the cane can easily break. You can buy strips of round, wicker cane at any good DIY store, then simply remove the broken strip and replace it by soaking the new strip in water for about thirty minutes, then weave your new strip into the place left by the old strip. You will need to glue the ends down, and then hold it in place with a small furniture tack.

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