Rattan, as a material for furniture making, is valued for its flexibility, strength, and longevity. Its smooth surface can withstand dirt and dust, and is tolerant to both rain and sun exposure. Quality rattan furniture can last for many, many years, but even the best quality rattan will need to be properly maintained and regularly cleaned for it to maximize its full potential for longevity and stability. If you have indoor or outdoor furniture made of rattan, here are the basic cleaning techniques you need to know and apply to maintain and care for your rattan pieces best.
A regular routine cleaning of rattan surfaces once every week or every month is necessary to clear away surface dirt, protect your rattan pieces, and prevent the development of any major damage. For basic routine cleaning, lightly dust off dirt and debris from the rattan surface, and clean away any dirt stuck in crevices using a small brush. You can also vacuum the whole surface area of the furniture piece to rid it of dust stuck in tightly woven spaces, as can be usually found in wicker rattan furniture.
Then prepare a gentle cleaning solution by filling a bowl with water and adding a few drops of mild dishwashing detergent in it. Blend the detergent with the water until you can see bubbles on the water surface. Take a soft cloth and lightly dip it into the bubbles only; avoid soaking it into the water. Wipe the rattan surface using the soft cloth dipped in the suds, making sure that the cloth is barely damp so as not to over-wet the rattan material. You may also dip a soft toothbrush in the soap suds and use it to clean crevices and cracks, again taking care not to soak the furniture with water. Let the rattan surface air dry and repeat the routine cleaning procedure every week to keep your furniture clean and dust-free.
While routine cleaning should be done weekly or at least monthly, thorough cleaning should be done once every year. The purpose of this major cleaning is to thoroughly clean out dirt buildup, remove stains, and seal your rattan furniture using a protective coat of lacquer or shellac. You can use the same technique for mixing the cleaning solution as in routine cleaning, but this time you will need to scrub the rattan surface with a soft cloth slightly soaked in a little more water. The rattan surface will be more deeply cleaned, but it will also turn out wetter than it usually does in routine cleanings. To help the rattan dry faster, make sure you do your thorough cleaning when the day is sunny, warm and dry. This way, you can set your furniture out to dry under the sun after cleaning. Alternatively, you can use a hot hair dryer to dry the rattan surface effectively.
After the rattan has completely dried, use a soft paintbrush to apply an even coat of lacquer or shellac on the rattan surface, to seal and provide extra protection to the furniture exterior until the next thorough cleaning in the following year.