Rattan furniture is a traditional yet contemporary design that can be used both in the home and out in the garden too. A material which continues to rocket in popularity, rattan offers strength, durability and toughness coupled with elegance and style. Its many benefits begin to explain just why this type of furniture is so sought after, and why it’s so on-trend. What’s refreshing is that it’s actually very easy to look after; a material that doesn’t take a lot of work to stay looking in tip-top condition and as good as the day you bought it. You won’t need expensive cleaners or detergents, and you won’t need to spend hours polishing it to perfection. Intrigued? We take a look how to preserve your rattan and keep it looking as good as new.

Keep your rattan looking as good as new


Little and often

One of the attractive qualities about rattan is that it doesn’t really need any serious ongoing maintenance and if you wanted to, you could leave it for longer periods of time without any attention. However, sooner or later, the neglect would start to show and it would become more difficult to get it back to looking as good as new. The good news is that the maintenance of the rattan furniture is ridiculously easy and takes just a few minutes. You may only need to carry out this cleaning regime once every couple of months but if your rattan furniture is looking grubby, then don’t wait any longer because the dirty could become ground in and therefore more difficult to remove. To carry out a routine clean you need a soft cloth, a soft brush and some warm, plain water. Dampening the cloth with the water, wipe over the rattan furniture, concentrating on any patches of dirt. Make sure you don’t scour or scratch away at the surface without nails, because you could easily damage the rattan. Don’t be tempted to use strong detergents or bleaches even if the rattan is filthy because harsh cleaners such as this can strip away the colour, and weaken the structure of the rattan material. If you absolutely have to use a cleaner, drop a small amount of pH neutral dish soap in some water; this should get rid of the grime immediately. Using the soft bristled brush may be more effective than the cloth and will also allow you to access between the gaps too. By carrying out simple routine maintenance you will be sure that your rattan garden furniture will remain in the best possible condition, come rain, snow or shine.

Deep cleaning

A quick wipe over every now and again should be enough to keep your rattan furniture looking great and prevent any excesses of dirt building up. However, you might still find that it’s beneficial to carry out a more intensive clean every now and again. Getting the hoover out is a good place to start; this is a surprisingly effective tool for cleaning furniture thoroughly.

Keep your rattan furniture looking as good as new with a deep clean

Using the nozzle attachment, clean the whole piece of furniture thoroughly, making sure you run over each nook, cranny and crevice. This will suck any dust and grime from the deep recesses it may have settled in, stopping the build-up of dirt which can ultimately damage the rattan material. A brush attachment on the nozzle is excellent at encouraging all of the unwanted dirt out and leaving your rattan pristine and immaculate. You also might want to try hosing it down; this is a good idea if it’s really dirty, rather than just dusty. Make sure that your hose isn’t switched on to a powerful setting as it could knock some of the rattan strands out of position. A reasonable spray is all that’s needed to allow the water to run through the weave and get rid of the dirt which may have accumulated. Where possible, tipping the item of furniture upside down will help the water to run out more freely as well as letting it dry. This is because of the way in which the rattan weave is created. Remove any standing water or pools you can see on the rattan furniture and pat it dry with a cloth. Leave the furniture to dry in the sunshine and when all the moisture has disappeared, turn it back up the right way.


Rattan is very resistant to stains and this is just one of the reasons that it’s a great choice of material for households with young children (or clumsy people!) But in order to make sure the rattan below doesn’t get damaged, it’s important to wipe off any stains immediately. The longer the stain is left on the rattan, the greater the chance that it may not come off. Do not be tempted to use a scourer or a scrubbing pad to get any discolouration or stain from your rattan; you could damage the structure of the material itself and do far more damage. If the stain is stubborn and really won’t budge, you could try using a q-tip moistened with a bleach and water solution. It’s not recommended that you use a bleach solution on large areas as it could weaken the structure but for isolated spot cleaning, it shouldn’t harm your rattan.

Repairing splits and cracks

The robust nature of your rattan furniture means that it’s unlikely to suffer from any splits or cracks, but you may experience it very occasionally, particularly on older furniture, Don’t despair if you see one appear however, as even the least DIY-competent individual will be able to repair the problems within minutes. All that’s needed is a soft cloth and some boiled linseed oil. Taking the cloth, douse it in boiled linseed oil and liberally apply it to the area which is cracked and split. The rattan should absorb the oil. Keep applying the oil to the affected parts of the rattan and the surrounding part of the rattan too until no more oil is being absorbed. Set the oil to one side and take a fresh cloth and blot away any of the oil that the rattan hasn’t absorbed. Wipe the surface so it’s not greasy and set aside to dry. It’s absolutely vital that the rattan is left alone to completely dry; during this time the boiled linseed oil will harden and set, providing a new and protective coating for the chair. The splits and cracks will miraculously disappear, healed over by the oil. If you use raw linseed oil, it will not harden and set so it’s essential that you opt for the boiled variety.

Protecting it

Rattan is an all-weather material and it’s certainly handy that it can stay outside even if it’s raining but if you want it to stay in the best possible condition for as long as possible, a little bit of protection is certainly a good idea. Although all-weather rattan is resistant to the rain, sun and snow, cold temperatures can make it more brittle, increasing the possibility that it will eventually snap and crack. By keeping it protected from the extremes of the weather, or by reducing the number of drenching’s it receives, you could increase the lifespan of your rattan furniture substantially. This doesn’t mean you need to drag it in and out of storage - although you could do if that suited your lifestyle - but instead, just covered it up. There’s a number of rattan protective wraps on the market; this is all that’s needed in order to extend its life span and shelter it from the worst of the weather outside. Alternatively, if your decking is covered and doesn’t get battered by the rain, snow and wind, you may find that simply leaving it under this roof rather than exposed in the garden is sufficient to keep it well protected.

Keeping its shape

Rattan furniture is created by dampening the natural fibres (or the synthetic version) and creating a malleable and soft material which can be woven into shape. Once it dries, it is much harder and rigid, and cannot be easily bent or moved. This is why rattan is such a strong substance and is such a long lasting and tough piece of furniture.

Tears like this can be avoided with proper maintenance

Image Source However, if you wash or dampen the surface to clean it, consider how the strength of the material may have changed. It’s therefore best to avoid using it completely until the rattan is totally dry. If you use the rattan furniture when it’s still wet, or even damp, you could easily push the strands out of position inadvertently, weakening the structure and causing long term damage. Don’t sit, add weight or move rattan furniture in any way until you are certain that it’s dry and won’t bend or stretch.

Keeping it soft

Rattan is a material that has to yield; it’s not hard and unbending like timber or metal. The amount it yields shouldn’t be too much as otherwise there’s a risk of sagging, but good quality rattan furniture will always have a slightly soft feel as you sit. The same principle applies for other types of rattan items, such as tables, boxes and loungers. If the rattan loses its softness and elasticity, it’s at risk of snapping as it becomes too brittle. It’s therefore essential that it doesn’t dry out; keeping it lubricated will help to extend its lifespan and prevent breakages and snapping strands making it look shabby. A simple way to inject more moisture back into the material is to use lemon oil. This is widely available from hardware shops and needs to be gently applied with a soft cloth, being rubbed in all over. You won’t need too much as you don’t want the rattan to be sloppy and overly-wet; just enough to rub into the surface to give it a soft sheen will suffice.

Soft furnishings

No matter how smart your rattan looks, if the upholstery is faded, ripped or discoloured, your furniture will look shabby and old. It’s therefore just as important to take care of the cushions and their covers as the rattan itself. The upholstery isn’t as resilient as the rattan so requires a bit more TLC particularly in inclement weather. An outdoors storage facility is a great place to keep your upholstery when it’s not in use as it means that the cushions are never far away, and the box itself looks great and matches the overall decor. Most rattan upholstery is showerproof and will survive getting wet in a downpour a few times without too much of a problem. However, if the cushions are repeatedly soaked, and are left to stay wet for prolonged periods, problems could easily arise. The pads could become difficult to dry out, becoming mouldy and smelly, and the fabric could develop patches of mildew. Conversely, being left out in direct sunshine for prolonged periods could cause the pattern and colours to fade, making the item of furniture appear to be old and worn out. It’s therefore vital to ensure that the upholstery is protected from not just the extremes of the weather, but also the wet and the sunlight (other than when in use). This will prevent the fabric from degrading and looking distinctly jaded. Of course, the upholstery may become dirty or start to look grubby and it’s just as important that it’s kept clean. Dirty furnishing looks just as bad as or worse than those which are old and tired. In most cases, the upholstery just zippers off and open, allowing the pads to be removed and the covers to be rinsed through in the washing machine. Make sure they are thoroughly dried through before replacing them back onto the rattan furniture, particularly if they are going back into a cold environment. Conclusion Rattan is a material which is particularly easy to keep clean, especially when compared to other types of furniture. However, by taking some extra care and protecting it more than the bare minimum, you could extend the life of your rattan and keep it looking as good as new for many years.