How To Care For Rattan Furniture

Whether it is a conservatory sofa or a day lounger for the garden, rattan is a material that is easy to keep clean. Here’s how.

What is rattan?

Rattan is a natural material. It is fast-growing palm well known for being incredibly strong, once it has been cut and dried. Weaved together, it becomes incredibly strong and robust, perfect for all kinds of furniture. As it is impervious to changes in temperature, it is a favoured material for outdoor furniture and conservatory furniture too. 
5 easy steps to keep rattan furniture clean

Even those it is robust and strong, you don’t want to use harsh chemicals or equipment that could damage the material, leading to compromises in its strength. Don’t be tempted to use a power washer, for example, on outdoor rattan furniture as even on its lightest setting, it will damage the material.

Step 1 – Loosen dirt and debris

Invest in a soft-bristled brush to loosen dirt, debris and dust from the rattan furniture. As well as doing this before cleaning and washing the furniture, doing this on a regular basis throughout the spring and summer will help keep it in better shape.

Dirt and other debris are abrasive and so, as you use the chairs or sofa etc., it will rub against the material. Over time, it will dent how pristine the rattan looks and can lead to problems with your furniture. 

Step 2 – Vacuum it!

Yes, you read that right – vacuum your rattan furniture, including outdoor pieces. To give it its strength, rattan fronds are knotted together to create the tell-tale pattern that we associate with this kind of outdoor and garden furniture.

What this means is that there are many small crevices for dust and dirt to get trapped in. Brushing it will dislodge larger particles of dirt and detritus but you also need to remove smaller pieces that could cause problems – the best way of doing this is to vacuum rattan furniture. 

Step 3 – Concentrate on hard-to-reach places

So far, we have concentrated on easy to reach places but with all rattan furniture, from the outdoor lounger to the conservatory sofa, there are hard-to-reach places that must be cleaned.

*Remove all upholstery.

*Once brushed and vacuumed, check all the hard to reach places – e.g. where the arms meet the chair etc., for ingrained dirt and detritus.

*Use a small brush such as toothbrush and using warm water and a gentle detergent – fabric softener can work well – clean the crevices and hard to reach places.

Top Tip – sometimes the pattern can be knocked out of shape. If this happens and you leave it like this, it could become weak and break. Using your fingers or the toothbrush, push the rattan back into shape.

Step 4 – A weekly wash

Using warm water and a non-abrasive detergent, using a soft cloth or brush, wash the furniture down. To keep it in great shape doing this once a week can pay dividends because it keeps the worse of the dirt off it. This is probably more important for outdoor rattan furniture.

Outdoor covers can be washed but always check the washing instructions carefully before placing in the washing machine. Use detergent sparingly and don’t use fabric conditioner on the soft furnishings as it can inhibit its waterproofing, as well as softening the fibres that can lead to it becoming weak and tearing easily.

Step 5 – Allow it to dry

There are various schools of thought on drying rattan furniture, but all agree that it needs to dry thoroughly before use;

*Hairdryer or fan – some people suggest drying rattan using hairdryers or a fan so that water is helped to evaporate from small crevices.

*Natural air drying – some people advocate allowing the rattan to dry naturally. It makes sense to allow the furniture to dry in the air but try to keep it out harsh sunlight. Try to choose a dry, windy day to clean your rattan furniture!

Problems with Rattan Furniture

Cleaned regularly, rattan furniture will last a long time. There are few issues with rattan but there is one: it relates to black spots or mould spots that can grow on the surface of the rattan.

This is not caused by the material itself but rather washing the item and not allowing it to dry thoroughly before using it or bringing back indoors.

Mould-removers can be fairly abrasive and can, if allowed to sit, on the rattan cause its fibres to weaken. Rather than using chemicals, use a toothbrush and a gentle detergent and using a gentle scrubbing action, the mould or black spots will soon rub away. Try to avoid rubbing too vigorously in one spot as this can wear the rattan thin.

Rattan is fantastic, easy to keep clean material, perfect for both the garden and the conservatory. Rattan Direct know a thing or two about rattan. They stock a wide range of high-quality rattan outdoor and conservatory furniture, including traditionally styled pieces as well as uber-modern.