How to care for rattan garden furniture Is a subject we are often asked about and is relatively easy as long as you have chosen all weather rattan as opposed to the traditional natural weave wicker.  We have written an article describing key differences between natural rattan and synthetic rattan which may be interesting additional reading for you.

Essentially natural rattan is a species of palm found in Asia, Africa and Australia.  It is one of the strongest types of natural weaves and also happens to be easy to clean and care for, making it a great choice for furniture.  Traditional rattan is often referred to as wicker, however wicker is actually a type of weaving method and not a material.  The best advice for caring for this type of rattan would be to make sure you try to shelter your furniture from the elements.  Traditional rattan is very strong and long lasting when kept inside.   However not so good if kept outside for long periods.  As a natural product it is susceptible to mould and rot if left outside in wet conditions.
How to care for rattan garden furniture
Rattan garden furniture is a man made synthetic material.  It is very robust in all weather conditions and also easy to clean and care for.  This makes it a great choice of garden furniture.  Read our article called ‘what is synthetic rattan’ for a more detailed description on man made rattan patio furniture.  Synthetic rattan is extremely durable and long lasting.  Proper care is required if you want it to withstand the elements and last for years to come.

How to care for rattan garden furniture.

Despite the differences between natural and all weather rattan there are many similarities when it comes to how to care for rattan garden furniture.  Rattan garden furniture is often kept outside all year round.   If natural rattan is left outside  unprotected you may expect it to bleach when exposed to sunlight.  However our synthetic rattan is UV protected and is therefore able to remain under direct sunlight for many hours without fading.  Again we have further reading on the UV resistance of our rattan furniture should you wish to look into it further.

Cleaning and maintaining your garden furniture will allow you to continue using it for decades.  Here we will explain some of the many ways you can clean and care for your outdoor rattan furniture.

How to care for cane furniture.

Items required to care for your patio furniture:

• Vacuum cleaner with small brush attachment or Toothbrush
• Nailbrush
• Mild washing up detergent
• Bucket
• 2 x soft cloths

How to care for outdoor wicker

How to care for outdoor wicker.

If you leave your rattan garden furniture outside on your patio, it is likely that it will collect dust and debris in its weaves over time.  Dust, dirt and debris need to be removed from your furniture or they may end up collecting in the crevices of the weaves and causing mildew.  A great way to remove loose dust and dirt is to use a vacuum cleaner.  We highly recommend using the small brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, if you have one.  This will remove the loose dust and dirt quickly and easily.

Alternatively, you could always use a brush with non-abrasive bristles, like a toothbrush or nailbrush.  Brushes of this size will be perfect for getting into all of the crevices of the weaves.  Once you have removed the loose dust and dirt, we highly recommend cleaning your rattan furniture using warm water and a mild washing up detergent.  If you own natural rattan furniture, it is important not to get it too wet.  Instead of submerging a soft cloth into the water and soaking your furniture, we recommend just skimming the bubbles off the top instead.

After you have cleaned any dirt and marks off your furniture, slightly dampen a clean cloth and wipe it over your rattan dining table and chairs.  Make sure you allow your furniture plenty of time to dry before using it again.  Synthetic rattan garden furniture can withstand getting slightly wetter, so you could always use a hosepipe to clean your furniture instead.  Just make sure that the water drains off properly and that you carry out the cleaning task on a windy day so your furniture dries quickly.  Most people use cushions and seat covers on the rattan garden chairs to make them more comfortable.  These cushions and seat covers need to be washed on a regular basis in order to keep them in tip top condition.

Most covers and cushions will be machine washable, but it is always best to check the label first.  It is unlikely that you will be able to tumble dry them so make sure you leave them out to dry and do not put them back on your rattan chairs until both are dry.

Caring for your rattan patio furniture cushions

Caring for your rattan patio furniture cushions.

If you use seat covers and cushions on your rattan furniture, make sure to regularly wash them to keep them in a good condition.  It is also advised that you keep the cushions and seating covers inside when you are not using them.  Our cushions are easily removed as they are zipped for ease of use.  Use your normal household products such as vanish for stain removal on cushion covers.

Removing stains and mould from your furniture.  It is important to avoid spilling anything on your rattan dining sets when eating alfresco.  That said it is inevitable that spillages will happen and the good news is that all weather rattan can be easily wiped clean.  If you do accidentally spill something on your natural rattan furniture, take care of it as soon as possible to avoid the liquid soaking into your furniture and staining it.  If you do notice stains on your furniture or mildew (brown mould spots that do not come off with soap and water) try mixing a solution of bleach and water together.  You will need to scrub your furniture, but be careful not to damage the weave.  If this doesn't work, you may need to drip a Q-tip in bleach and apply it directly to the stains.

We have an entire article dedicated to cleaning rattan garden furniture so please read if you require further information.

How often to clean your rattan furniture.

When deciding on how to care for rattan garden furniture we recommend vacuuming or dusting your wicker every week to keep it in a good condition.  You probably only need to clean it once every month.  However if you use it a lot or the weather is particularly bad, you may need to clean your furniture more often.  Every year we highly recommend carrying out maintenance on your furniture.  We will discuss some of the ways in which you can do this below.

Repairing rattan furniture.

Extreme heat and direct sunlight can cause traditional rattan furniture to split and crack.  The best way to avoid this is to keep you natural rattan furniture in a protected and shaded area.  If you notice that this has already happened to your furniture, you can try using boiled linseed oil to repair it.  Always buy boiled linseed oil from your local DIY store.  Do not try boiling linseed oil yourself, as it is highly flammable.  Apply a thin layer of the oil to your furniture and wait for it to dry.  You can then re-apply more layers, buffing your furniture with a cloth and letting it dry in between.

Stop when you start to notice the oil is not sinking into the furniture as it was in the beginning.  Thats when you will have applied enough of it.  Whilst the boiled linseed oil will not actually fill in the cracks and splits, it will moisten the rattan and cause it to expand.  Thus making the damage less noticeable.  It also provides a shiny finish that will add to the furniture's stylish aesthetics.  If you notice the weaving on your furniture is looking a little loose, you may be able to gently put it back in place with your fingers.  One of the best ways to avoid loosening the weave of your furniture is to avoid using it when it is damp.  If you sit on your rattan chairs before they are fully dry, the weight of your body can cause the seats to sag.

Using boiled linseed oil on your furniture can help to soften the rattan, preventing further cracking.  It will also cause the rattan to expand which will help to disguise any existing cracks and splits in the weaves.  In worst-case scenarios, you can have your furniture repaired by professionals.  However you have to consider the costs.  Would it be cheaper to have your garden furniture repaired or would it be more cost effective to buy a new set?

Fixing all weather rattan garden furniture

Fixing all weather rattan garden furniture.

Fixing all weather rattan is a different process to that described above.  All weather rattan does not crack in the same way as its natural counterpart and does not crack under direct sunlight either.  However there are times when the synthetic rattan strands can snap or tear and in those circumstances you will need to repair them.  We have written an article on how to fix rattan furniture for those of you interested in further reading.

Protecting natural rattan furniture.

What you will need:
• Clear sealant
• Shellac
• Lacquer
• Paintbrush or compressor sprayer
• Lemon oil

One of the best ways to protect your rattan furniture from the outdoor elements is to apply a protective finish.  As discussed above you do not need to add any protective layer for all weather rattan furniture.   If want to leave natural rattan on your patio we suggest you do.  You can use anything from sealant to shellac and lacquer.  These can all be applied either by using a paintbrush or a sprayer. It is best to carry out the work outside to avoid it causing damage to your home.  Always leave your furniture to dry for several days before using it again.  If your rattan furniture is feeling a little dry, you can always moisten it using lemon oil.  This can be purchased from your local hardware store and applied with a cloth.

Painting rattan patio furniture.

Here at Zebrano we do not recommend painting our synthetic rattan furniture but that is not to say that it is not possible.  Anything can be painted provided you have a surface capable of holding the paint.  These days you can buy a primer that will gave a base layer which can then be painted on top of.  So if you are that way inclined there is no reason why you cant paint your rattan garden furniture.

If you are tired of your old natural rattan furniture but it is still in a good condition, why not consider painting it?  Using a waterproof or oil-based paint will refresh your rattan furniture and give it a brand new look.

plastic wicker furniture

How to paint plastic wicker furniture.

What you will need:
• Sandpaper
• Oil-based primer
• Oil-based or waterproof paint
• Paint brush or compressor sprayer
• Dust sheets

If you own painted rattan furniture, over time you may notice that the paint fades and chips.  It is easy to carry out small touch-up jobs using a small paintbrush.  Alternatively, if you want to refresh your garden furniture you could re-paint it in a different colour.  Spray-painting your furniture is probably the easiest and quickest method.  Before painting your rattan furniture, always check the manufacturer's recommendations.

Usually an oil-based paint of waterproof garden paint will be fine.  Consider buying a primer, especially if you are changing the colour of your rattan furniture.  Paint will go on much smoother if a primer is applied first.

How to care for rattan outdoor furniture.

Before painting your furniture, it is best to remove as much of the flaking paint as possible.  When doing this, be careful not to damage the weave of your rattan furniture.  Once you have done this, you can then lightly sand the rough edges to tidy up the furniture.  We also recommend roughing up the surface for better paint adhesion.  As we mentioned before, if you are changing the paint colour dramatically, we recommend using a primer.  You should be able to pick up a suitable oil-based primer from your local DIY store.

Two coats should do the job! Once you have primed your furniture, you can apply your paint.  If you are looking to get the job done quickly and efficiently, try a compressor sprayer.  This is a great tool to use.  Make sure you carry out the work outdoors.  Put dust sheets down to avoid the paint spreading all over your lawn.  Allow several days for drying before using your furniture.

If you want to keep your rattan furniture outside all year round, we highly recommend investing in synthetic rattan.  This furniture is usually made out of PVC and is much more durable than natural rattan furniture.  It will require less maintenance and it will not be susceptible to mould and mildew.  Zebrano are specialists in synthetic rattan garden furniture.  We have a comprehensive range to choose from including corner sofa sets, dining sets, sofa sets, daybeds and sun loungers.

outdoor wicker

Things to keep in mind when trying to care for outdoor wicker.

Although natural rattan furniture can be used outdoors, you need to be aware that the weather can have an effect on its condition.  If you are planning on leaving your furniture outside all year round, we recommend investing in synthetic rattan furniture.  Synthetic rattan furniture is much more durable and able to withstand the elements.  It is important to remember that temperatures can have an affect on your rattan furniture.

If it is too cold, your furniture may stiffen, however if it is too hot it may become more elastic and therefore susceptible to damage.  If your rattan furniture experiences too much moisture, it may start to sag and may even suffer from mildew.  Your furniture should be placed in a protected spot when it is left outside.  You can always use a canopy or patio umbrella to stop both the rain and sun from damaging your furniture.  Alternatively you can keep it inside your garage or summerhouse, covered over with a dust sheet.  The proper placement and storage of your rattan garden furniture is the first step in making sure it is protected and will last for many years.

It is worth cleaning and maintaining your rattan furniture on a regular basis to keep it in a good condition.  The better you take care of it, the longer it will last you, providing a better return on your investment.  Rattan furniture that is cared for can last forever.


With the right care and cleaning methods, outdoor rattan furniture can last for decades.  Cleaning and maintenance is definitely worth the little effort it requires.  Your furniture lasts for years and continues to look as good as the day you first bought it.  Keep in mind these top tips for caring for your rattan garden furniture and you will find it an easy and hassle free task.

Articles mentioned above for further reading:

All Weather Rattan Versus Traditional Rattan

Fixing Rattan Furniture

How to Clean Rattan Furniture

Practical Advantages of Rattan Patio Furniture