MAINTENANCE : Wicker Witchcraft: Easy Care and Repair

From Reader's Digest

If you have wicker furniture in your home or on the porch, you already know how to enjoy it, but do you know how to take care of it?

Here’s how to help your wicker retain its looks and charm:

Care and Cleaning:

* You can wash rattan and willow wicker with soapy water using a soft brush for crevices. If the wicker becomes brittle, drenching it with water helps restore it.


* Rush, sea grass or fiber (twisted paper) should only be wiped now and then with a damp cloth.

* Vacuum wicker regularly with the brush attachment.

* For in-between dusting, try a soft, slightly dampened paint brush.

* Wash painted wicker with warm, soapy water and a damp sponge. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner.


* For stained wicker, spray furniture cleaner on a clean, dry cloth and wipe all surfaces.

* Keep wicker well away from a fireplace, stove or radiator.

* Bring wicker furniture indoors during freezing weather.



* For pliability, soak new strands of rattan and wicker in warm water for at least 10 minutes and weave them while they are wet.

* To repair worn wicker: Remove the damaged strand. From the underside, anchor the end of the new strand next to the end of the old strand. Working from above, weave the new strand through the spokes in the existing pattern.

* To repair rattan wrapping: Strip off the old rattan. Tie one end of new rattan temporarily into place with string; start wrapping the other end over the tied end. Remove the string once the wrapping holds the first end in place. To complete wrapping, tuck the second end up through the last few rows of wrapping. Pull the end tight and trim. Secure the end with a tack.



* If rattan or willow has accumulated many coats of unsightly paint, consider having it stripped by a professional. To do the job yourself, work outdoors and use a semi-paste stripper, following manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to scrub off all traces of the stripper using a stiff-bristle brush dipped into detergent and water.

* If the piece is unfinished, clean it first to remove grease, wax and dirt. Let it dry thoroughly before applying finish. For a light, natural finish, spray on polyurethane or clear lacquer from an aerosol can. For a darker finish, use a stain before applying the finish.

* Wicker can also be painted any color you choose. Aerosol plastic resin enamel works best.

Here’s how to paint wicker or apply a clear finish:


* Work outdoors on a warm, dry day.

* Create a screen to confine spray. A large appliance box with the front cut off works well.

* Hold the spray can about 12 inches away. Practice first on newspaper to get the feel of the sprayer. Then start at the top and sweep across in one continuous motion. Spray inside surfaces first, then sides and top.

* Apply two or three thin coats, allowing each to dry thoroughly.