Wicker furniture is perfect for those long, lazy days of summer in the garden. Hard-wearing, practical and pleasing on the eye, wicker furniture can become the heart of your garden during the warmer months of the year.
But although wicker is strong, it’s not always easy to clean. It’s usually full of crevices and folds, which can be very difficult to access with cleaning tools. But if you follow the right cleaning routines, there’s no reason why your furniture can’t look its very best throughout the summer.
Identify the type of wicker you’re cleaning
If your furniture is made of natural wicker, it won’t be quite as durable as furniture made with the synthetic variety. However, what you lose in durability you gain in aesthetic charm. Wicker made with plastics tends to be a lot easier to clean, and you can pretty much use any type of cleaning agent. Natural wicker, however, is usually sealed, and that sealant can be damaged by certain cleaning chemicals.
Before you clean, you need to remove debris, dirt and dead bugs. Using a long crevice attachment, vacuum your furniture thoroughly — making sure you remove any loose debris. If you’re vacuuming synthetic wicker, you don’t have to worry too much about damage. However, proceed with care if your furniture is made with natural materials. Paint and sealant can be damaged by vacuum brushes and attachments, and that can lead to water damage over time.
Remove any remaining debris by hand
Despite your best efforts with a powerful vacuum cleaner, there are bound to be dead bugs, garden debris and dirt stuck in the recesses of your wicker furniture — particularly if you used it the last year. Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for hard work and time when it comes to removing it. You’ll have to do it by hand, but there are a few tools that can make the task a little easier.
Dislodge debris stuck in your furniture with an old toothbrush. You can also do some detailed cleaning with the brush as you go. If you can’t reach smaller bits of debris, try using some tweezers. Just proceed with caution if your furniture is made from natural materials, as it’s easy to cause damage with stiff brushes and metal tools.
Give it a trim
If your wicker furniture is made with natural materials such as bamboo, it will begin to fray sooner or later. Tiny strands and larger pieces can splinter off, leaving your chairs and tables looking untidy and scruffy. Using a small pen-knife or some nail scissors, gently cut away the loose bits of material.
Clean with detergent and water
How you clean your wicker furniture depends on the material it’s made with. If it’s a synthetic material, you can afford to be a little more aggressive. Use a hose or even a jetwash to remove dirt and grime. Where large accumulations won’t budge, use a scourer to scrub them away. In most cases, hot water and a little dishwashing detergent should do the trick.
If you’re cleaning reed, for example, fill a bucket with hot, soapy water, and clean the furniture carefully with a sponge or a microfibre cloth. You’ll need to take extra care to ensure you don’t damage the paint or sealant. If your furniture is made with paper wicker, you shouldn’t use any water.
If you have a handheld steam cleaner, cleaning synthetic wicker couldn’t be easier. Just turn on and point the cleaner at your tables and chairs. Superheated steam blasts away dirt and dead bugs, and sanitises tabletops for dining.
Dry and polish
Drying synthetic wicker is easy: either leave it out to dry or polish it with a towel. However, natural fibres can absorb water if they’re left wet for too long. Use a hairdryer to dry your furniture, and wipe it down gently with a microfibre cloth afterwards. Take natural wicker furniture inside when it’s raining. Water doesn’t just cause structural damage, it leads to the development of mould and mildew.
With regular cleaning and some preventative maintenance, your wicker furniture should look its very best throughout the summer.