How to Restore Rattan Furniture

By Kathy Adams

Rattan furniture offers a natural beauty that lasts for decades or even generations, with proper care. Rattans are palm species that grow not like trees but along other vegetation like vines. Their fibers are separated and dried into a pliable, durable material suitable for weaving into objects such as furniture. Leaving rattan furniture exposed to the elements wreaks havoc on it -- too dry and the rattan may become brittle and crack or split; too damp and it may stretch and become misshapen. Moisture may cause mold or mildew to grow on the furniture, which requires cleaning with bleach to remove.

Rusty Chair
credit: okan dilek/iStock/Getty Images
Inspect furniture thoroughly while cleaning to spot areas that need repair.

Mold and Mildew Maintenance

Step 1

Carry the furniture outdoors, if it is not already outside. Brush it down with a soft-bristle brush to loosen and remove dust, dirt and mold spores present on the rattan.

Step 2

Vacuum the rattan thoroughly using an upholstery brush attachment to remove remaining loose particles.

Step 3

Wipe the furniture down with a scrub brush dipped into a bucket containing equal parts bleach and water. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection while working with the bleach. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to reach into deep crevices.

Step 4

Dip a sponge into a bucket of clean water, wringing out excess moisture, and wipe the rattan down again. Pat the furniture dry with a towel and allow it to air-dry for a day or two before sitting upon it or placing objects upon it.

Stop the Sag

Step 5

Flip the furniture over so the sagging area sticks up. If it is a chair back that sags, prop the chair so the sagging area is horizontal.

Step 6

Soak a towel in water and wring most of the water out. Place the towel over the affected rattan, ensuring that it does not touch the furniture frame, to avoid damage.

Step 7

Allow the towel to dry out in place overnight. Remove the towel and allow the furniture to air-dry for several days before using it. Wet rattan fibers shrink tight as they dry, which tightens up saggy situations.

Tighten Up

Step 8

Inspect the rattan for split fibers or loose wrappings.

Step 9

Glue down split ends by applying a dab of wood glue to each end of the split piece with a cotton swab. Press the pieces together, then tape them secure with painter's tape until the glue dries.

Step 10

Repair loose wrappings by unwinding several inches of the wrapping -- unwrap it far enough to remove all slack; stop when the wrap appears tight again. Apply wood glue over the back side of the unwound fiber with a cotton swap. Re-wrap the fiber tightly and tape it down with painter's tape until the glue has dried.