How to Clean & Care for Natural Rattan Furniture: Full Guide

January 27, 2023


Maintaining rattan furniture

Source: KOUBOO

Any piece of furniture is only as beautiful as it is cared for, and natural rattan is no exception. A stylish and durable addition to both interior and exterior spaces – from bedrooms and kitchens to balconies and patios – natural rattan is practical, sturdy and, when properly cared for, will lend your space a unique, breezy feel for years to come.

To make sure your rattan furniture goes the distance, you'll want to make sure to keep your rattan tables, lounge chairs, stools, headboards, and cabinets in pristine condition – which is easier than you think. This guide will show you how to clean and care for rattan furniture pieces and sets to extend their lifespan.

Items needed to clean rattan furniture

Rattan requires gentle and regular cleaning. Of course, there's no one-size-fits-all solution for cleaning furniture, due to varying materials, woods and stains. For rattan, we recommend having the following items on hand: 

  • Duster
  • Small brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery brush
  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Water containers (2)
  • Soft dry cloth
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Spoon or dull knife (optional)
  • Compressed air (optional)
Cleaning rattan furniture

How to clean rattan furniture? Step-by-step instructions

Rattan furniture's delicate, intricate design makes it the perfect addition to coastal and bohemian décor – but all those tiny cracks in the design also collect dust and dirt, making regular care and dusting essential. Proper cleaning ensures your furniture will last for generations to come. There are several different cleaning methods –some of them more suitable for natural rattan and others meant to clean synthetic rattan furniture.

Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to clean indoor and outdoor rattan furniture.

Hanging rattan chair

Source: KOUBOO

How to clean indoor rattan furniture?

Indoor rattan furniture tends to get dusty, just like the rest of your house. Keep it fresh with weekly dustings and monthly damp cleanings. If your furniture is used every day, you're also likely to see accidental stains that need to be cleaned immediately.

Here are 5 main steps to cleaning indoor rattan furniture:

  1. Remove dust from the surface of the furniture using a duster or a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery brush. To reach every nook and cranny, use a small, soft-bristle brush. Use compressed air to remove stubborn dust build-up.
  2. For the monthly damp cleaning, mix warm water with a splash of dish soap and prepare another container of warm water for rinsing.
  3. Soak a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution, wring out excess water, and carefully wipe down the furniture, rinsing the cloth frequently.
  4. Use a clean, soft cloth to dry the parts that are wetter and allow the rest of the piece to air dry.
  5. If you get a stain on the furniture, wipe it away as soon as possible. Try to delicately remove the stain using a dull knife or a spoon, and avoid rubbing it into the woven fibers. Use a damp cloth to wipe the area and let it air dry.

How to clean outdoor rattan furniture?

Outdoor synthetic rattan

Source: Articulate

The cleaning process for outdoor rattan furniture is similar, except you'll certainly see more dust and debris built up on your outdoor furniture than the indoor one. Even if you've weatherproofed your furniture or chosen synthetic rattan for your outdoor space, it still needs to be cleaned and maintained.

Here's how to clean outdoor rattan furniture in 5 steps:

  1. Prepare your furniture by removing cushions and other accessories and moving the piece to an open area where you can splash water freely.
  2. Use a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove any surface dirt. Make sure to apply only moderate pressure so you don't damage the furniture's finish.
  3. Mix warm water and washing liquid in a container and use a soft cloth to wipe over the furniture with the cleaning solution. With synthetic furniture, you can allow a thorough soaking. 
  4. Rinse away the suds from the furniture with clean water using a cloth or garden hose (only suitable for synthetic furniture). Avoid using a high-pressure setting in order to avoid damage.
  5. Allow the furniture to fully dry, replace the cushions and bring your set back to its place.

How to clean mold off rattan furniture?

Unfortunately, rattan furniture is susceptive to mold and mildew when kept outdoors or in damp spaces. If you notice black spots on it and cannot remove them using the cleaning solution, then it is likely to be mold. Not to worry – your furniture is still very much salvageable.

Follow these steps to clean mold off rattan furniture:

  1. Inspect the furniture thoroughly to pinpoint all areas affected by mold.
  2. Mix a gallon of water with a cup of bleach to create a cleaning solution.
  3. Soak a cloth in the bleach solution, squeeze it, and apply to the moldy parts by gently scrubbing. Wear protective gloves as you do this. For more stubborn mildew, use a soaked soft bristle brush.
  4. Rinse the furniture with clean water.
  5. Dry your furniture with a soft cloth and move it outside in the sun so that it dries completely and as fast as possible. 

How to care for rattan furniture: 5 tips to extend its lifespan 

Bedroom with a bed, rattan headboard and bedside table.

Source: KOUBOO

You've got the cleaning down, but extending the life of your rattan furniture also requires proper maintenance. There are a number of simple steps you can take to keep your rattan looking new for years to come. Let's take a look at 5 easy tips that will help maintain your rattan furniture.

1) Don't leave natural rattan furniture outside

Rattan furniture is lightweight, which makes it easy to store inside after using it outside. Avoid leaving it outside for prolonged periods of time without a cover as it can get damaged in several ways. 

Will rattan last outside?

The short answer is no. Natural rattan will not last outside if left for a long time without cover or protection. Leaving it in humid environments will result in damaged fibers and mildew, while particularly dry or cold air will dry it out and cause fibers to snap. Direct exposure to the sun will result in excessive fading. If you leave your natural rattan furniture outside, it will not last nearly as long as it would indoors.

Can wicker furniture be left outside?

The possibility of leaving wicker furniture outside depends on the material and its coating. There are 2 main types of wicker furniture:

  • Synthetic rattan wicker furniture: this kind of furniture can be left outside. Regular cleaning conditions apply.
  • Natural rattan wicker furniture: this type of furniture cannot be left outside for longer periods of time. Waterproofing and weatherproofing are highly recommended if used outdoors.

2) If you have to use it outside, weatherproof & waterproof your natural rattan furniture

The most effective way to keep rattan furniture beautiful for years is to keep it indoors or on a covered patio. If you absolutely have to use it outside, we recommend making it water and weatherproof. Even if the piece had a protective layer when purchased, it will wear off over time. To prolong this protection, repaint your furniture with a new coat of varnish and enjoy it for years to come. 

How to waterproof rattan furniture?

Here are the steps to waterproof rattan furniture:

  1. Paint the furniture. Choose paint that is intended for wicker furniture. Paint every area evenly from top to bottom and make sure to get all the nooks and crannies. If you like the color of your furniture and you don't want to alter it, skip this step.
  2. After you're done painting, spray varnish on top (make sure it's suitable for natural rattan). Let the first coat dry completely, then spray another coat. If you did not paint the furniture, apply a third coat.
  3. Allow the furniture to dry thoroughly before use.
  4. Repeat this process every three years.

How to weatherproof rattan furniture?

If you don't want to paint your furniture or apply varnish, using tung oil can also help weatherproof it. Keep in mind that tung oil won't protect your furniture from heavy rainfall. 

Follow these steps to weatherproof rattan furniture with tung oil:

  1. Put the oil on a cloth and wipe the furniture. Make sure you don't leave any spots dry.
  2. Reapply the coating of tung oil two times a year—at the beginning and at the end of the season.

If the chair or sofa you want to waterproof and weatherproof has upholstery, use a water-repellent spray or other fabric protector. If possible, remove the cushions from the rattan frame and spray them outdoors or in a well-ventilated space. 

3) Clean rattan furniture regularly

We recommend gentle weekly dusting and monthly damp cleaning of the furniture, and a thorough yearly inspection to discover any split fibers or mold and fix those right away. 

4) Try to avoid dragging it not to split the fibers

Do not drag your rattan furniture across the floor, as this can break the fibers. Instead, lift it up when moving it, keeping an even pressure on each side. For enhanced protection, use felt pads or rubber caps on rattan furniture with cane legs.

5) If you spot mold, get rid of it immediately

If you spot mold or mildew on your rattan furniture, take care of it immediately and don't allow it to spread. Use a strong bleach solution to treat the affected areas and dry it thoroughly outdoors. Depending on the amount of mold present, it could take repeated cleanings to fully resolve the issue.

 Rattan chair and side table

Source: KOUBOO

Before cleaning your furniture, choose the best method based on the furniture type and condition. As long as you take proper care of rattan furniture by regular cleaning and maintenance, you'll enjoy your beautiful rattan pieces for decades to come.