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How to Clean Rattan Furniture?

Written by: Abode Haven Sales Team

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Time to read 7 min

Rattan furniture has exploded in popularity in the last decade for its natural beauty and timeless appeal. Whether you have rattan tables, chairs or even a full outdoor set, taking proper care of your rattan is crucial to maintaining its appearance and longevity. And when it comes to rattan furniture, this means a regular cleaning schedule to keep its pristine condition.


In this blog post, we will walk you through the correct way to clean your rattan furniture. If you've ever found yourself asking “what is rattan?”, then this blog post is for you. From understanding the characteristics of rattan as a material to clearing up common issues, we'll cover everything you need to know to make your cleaning routine as easy as possible. 

Overview of The Cleaning Process

Characteristics of Rattan

Rattan furniture has a distinct set of characteristics that make the cleaning process different from other furniture such as timber or metal. Understanding these characteristics will help you on your cleaning journey:


Porous Material: Rattan is naturally porous, which means it will absorb cleaning agents and liquids more than other materials. Avoid using excessive moisture to prevent damage or warping and make sure you dry your furniture once you're done.


Sensitivity to Harsh Chemicals: Being a naturally occurring materially, rattan can be sensitive to strong chemicals and coarse cleaning agents. Avoid the use of strong detergents, bleach, ammonia, or rough cleaners that may strip or damage the natural skin of the furniture. 


Woven Technique: Rattan furniture is often woven in order to join and create the furniture. This structure can be delicate and it's important not to apply excessive force or pressure which may unravel the woven stems. 


Sunlight Exposure: Rattan furniture can fade and become brittle if left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. For indoor pieces its recommended to clean in a shaded area and for outdoor pieces a furniture cover should be used if they are to be left outdoors. 


Mold and Mildew: Rattan, especially pieces left outdoors, is susceptible to mold and mildew build up. If you notice signs of these, address it straight away and use the appropriate cleaning products on the affected areas.


Loose Strands: Due to its nature and woven structure, rattan furniture may begin to develop loose strands. These need to be treated with extra care in the clean process as to not damage the furniture further. 


These characteristics are important as they help us optimise our cleaning and ensure that we don't further damage our beloved rattan items in the process!


The most common issues faced with dirty rattan furniture are mainly:


Dust and dirt buildup making the furniture appear dull and dirty. This is especially prominent in indoor pieces.


Stains and Spills such as food stains and marks caused by beverages which can take away from the bright appearance of the furniture, especially in lighter pieces.


Prolonged exposure to sunlight causing blemishes and discolouring. 

Excessive moisture exposure causing mold and mildew accumulation.


Preparing for Cleaning

When preparing to clean your rattan furniture, these are some common practice pointers you can follow: 

  1. Determine the type of rattan furniture: Is your rattan furniture natural or synthetic? Natural rattan comes from the rattan vine while synthetic rattan is often produced with resin. This will affect your choice of cleaning products.
  2. Choose the right supplies: Using the proper cleaning products is a must. Collect a soft brush or toothbrush even, a microfiber cloth, a mild detergent or soap, water, a bucket and any rattan specific cleaner you need. 
  3. Evaluate the furniture's condition: Take a look at each piece you plan to clean and note any areas with dirt, stains, mold or mildew. This will be more important for larger pieces to save time and help you properly target each area.
  4. Finally, choose a suitable area: Make sure you're cleaning in a well-ventilated space or even outdoors, weather permitting. This is especially important if using stronger chemicals which may give off fumes or stain other materials if there is a spill. It will also help with the drying process. 

Following these steps before each cleaning session will save you time further down the track, as well as potentially saving your health and home! 

Cleaning Rattan Furniture 

A Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1: Follow the steps above and prepare your supplies and cleaning area. 


Step 2: Start with dusting off your furniture, using either a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, to remove loose dust and debris. Make sure to be gently around the woven areas and to not damage any loose fibers. 


Step 3: In a bucket or large container of your choice, mix warm water with a small amount of mild dish soap or detergent. Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and any abrasive cleaners as these can stain and damage your rattan furniture. 


Step 4: Perform a spot test if you're using a cleaning product or solution you haven't used before. Pick a spot on the furniture which isn't usually seen (the under side of a chair) and apply a bit of the cleaning solution to make sure there aren't any unwanted adverse effects. 


Step 5: Take your microfiber or soft cloth, dip it in your cleaning solution and begin to wipe down your furniture. Make sure to wring out excess water and pay special attention to any areas with dirt or stains. Be particularly careful around the joints and joins. 


Step 6: For intricately crafted pieces and those hard to get areas, use your soft brush or toothbrush (if you have a spare) to gently scrub and remove dirt. Try not to use too much force to avoid damaging or loosening the rattan strands. 


Step 7: When you're finished cleaning, make sure to rinse each piece with a soft cloth and clean water to remove any soap residue. It's also very crucial to minimise the amount of moisture left on the furniture so don't go overboard as this can damage the rattan. 


Step 8: Wipe down your rattan piece with a microfiber cloth or place it somewhere well-ventilated to air dry. Make sure not to place any wet items such as cushions back on the furniture until it is completely dry to avoid over exposure to moisture.


Step 9: This step is optional but applying a rattan oil or conditioner can improve the longevity of your rattan, as long as it's recommended by the manufacturer. It can also keep your furniture's shine and bright look. Make sure to follow the product care guide of your supplier. 


Step 10: Stick to a regular maintenance schedule and implement the above steps at least twice a month to ensure you can continue to enjoy your rattan furniture long into the future!

Maintenance of Rattan Furniture 

Outside of your regular cleaning schedule, these points are also crucial to keeping your rattan furniture looking its Sunday best!

  1. Wipe Spills and Stains: We all know accidents happen, especially when we're having fun, so it's important to make sure that any spills and stains are wiped up immediately. 
  2. Avoid Exposure to Sunlight and Moisture: Rattan furniture is particularly susceptible to both direct sunlight and excessive moisture. Some outdoor pieces will withstand the sunlight better than others but as a general rule, avoid having your furniture in prolonged sunlight as it may fade and weaken your items. The same goes for damp or humid areas as it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. 
  3. Apply a Protective Coating: Applying a protective coating of furniture wax or specialised rattan sealer can also help maintain the longevity and appearance of your items. This will aid in protecting the pieces from the elements, increases shine and prolongs its overall use. 

Seasonal Cleaning


Although our seasons here in Australia different significantly from state to state, this general guide will help you correctly maintain your pieces throughout the year:


Summer: 


Summers in Australia are particularly hot and have intense periods of sunlight as well as being highly humid. Removing your furniture from direct sunlight and keeping it in a cool dry place is advised. Purchasing a furniture cover may also be a good idea if you don't have anywhere to store it. This will protect it from the UV and reduce fading. 


Autumn:
 

In Australia, Autumn is much milder with lower temperatures and lower humidity levels. It's perfect backyard session season. While the threat of fading from sunlight and excessive moisture is reduced in Autumn, regular cleaning should be maintained and prolonged sun exposure should be avoided. 


Winter: 


As winter rolls around, the conditions tend to switch to much cooler and wetter conditions in the southern part of the country, while the northern part is still warm but much drier. For the southern regions, its a good idea to store rattan furniture indoors or use a furniture cover to help keep it safe from the rain and cold temperatures as they may cause the rattan to become brittle and crack. 


Spring:


Similar to Autumn, Spring brings pleasant and moderate weather to most of Australia. This is a good time to look and fix any damage caused by the winter months. Spring can also still have high rainfall and increased humidity so it is a good idea to ensure the furniture is allowed to dry after it has been exposed to any moistures. 


Conclusion

As you can see, proper cleaning and maintenance are the key to keeping your rattan furniture shining bright! The tips, tricks and techniques laid out in this blog post will ensure you won't have to replace your beloved pieces till the distant future. 


Regular cleaning routines and maintenance, as well as taking into account the different seasons and characteristics of rattan, will not only improve the overall look of your rattan furniture but also allow you to enjoy it for many years to come. By setting aside a bit of extra time every week and month, you will be able to squeeze plenty of extra summer nights of entertainment out of your beautiful rattan pieces. So roll up your sleeves and put in some elbow grease! You'll thank yourself later.