People often confuse the term wicker for a single type of raw material used in the construction of wicker furniture. Wicker is actually a type of weave that can consist of any of a variety of organic materials including vines, grasses and plants. Wicker can also be made from synthetic vinyl and resins. Banana leaf furniture is a type of wicker made from the dried fibers of the banana leaf, also known as abaca, which are twisted and braided into a form of rope. The rope is woven over a wood frame to create a variety of furniture pieces.
The woven texture of wicker makes it challenging to clean, but regular removal of dust and debris helps to keep it looking like new. The easiest way to accomplish this is by vacuuming with a brush hose attachment. Light dustings with a feather duster in between vacuuming can also be part of an ongoing maintenance routine. However, body oils and the occasional accidental spill may require an occasional deeper cleaning of banana leaf wicker.
When it's time to deep clean your wicker, you can use a mild soap such as dish detergent with water. Occasional cleaning with an oil soap is another option. Use a soft rag instead of a sponge, which might squeeze excess water into the furniture when you are rubbing off a soiled spot. Because banana leaf is a natural material, excess moisture can cause mildew. Follow with a rag dampened only with water to remove any soap residue. Finish by wiping the piece with a dry cloth to remove as much moisture as you can. Never sit on wet wicker; allow the furniture to dry thoroughly before using.
In the event that mildew does grow on your wicker furniture, it needs to be removed as soon as possible. Mix a solution of a quarter cup of bleach to 1 quart of water. Test the solution on an inconspicuous part of the furniture first, as it may slightly lighten the finish. Wipe the affected area with the bleach water solution. Use a toothbrush dipped in it if necessary to get into the cracks and crevices. Rinse with a clean damp cloth and allow the furniture to dry.
To keep your banana leaf wicker looking pristine for years to come, you can occasionally restore the finish. This typically isn't necessary on a yearly basis -- more like every two to three years. If your wicker happens to be dark, you can use furniture polish that contains a stain. Apply a coat of semigloss or gloss lacquer to restore the furniture's luster and sheen. Painted wicker can be refreshed with enamel spray paint in the same color.