Wicker baskets are attractive storage options that add a cozy touch to any home. Whether it's a wicker cleaning basket or straw paper plate holders, items made of this material should be treated with care so they don't crack or warp. Using the wrong cleaning products on wicker can cause discoloration and ruin the integrity of the basket. In the wrong temperature, wicker can fade or crack. Before investing in products made of wicker, it's a good idea to know how to clean and care for items made of this material.
What Is Wicker?
Wicker is not the material that makes baskets. It's the process of weaving rattan, a tropical vine indigenous to Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The inside of rattan is solid, making it a sturdy product for furniture and baskets.
To make wicker, the rattan is steamed to make it pliable. As it softens, it's bent into shape or woven together and left to cool and harden. The strength of a wicker product depends on the type of weave. For example, an intricate cane weave is most often used for furniture, as it makes for a stronger product. A simple over and under weave works well for wicker baskets. A decorative basket might have a more open weave than a cleaning basket that holds heavier items.
Caring for Your Wicker Baskets
Store wicker in a cool, dry area and keep it away from moisture and humidity. Avoid using wicker baskets in bathrooms, basements or other humidity-prone areas. As wicker is porous and retains smells, avoid using the baskets for anything with a heavy odor. In the kitchen, keep wicker away from heat or grease. Wipe wicker cleaning baskets dry after carrying damp laundry or other wet items.
Avoid storing wicker near sources of heat, such as radiators, and keep them out of sunlight. Heat can bleach a wicker basket and cause it to lose its warm color. While moisture can cause wicker baskets to warp and break, heat can cause it to crack and weaken.
How to Clean Your Wicker Baskets
Though wicker is sturdy, it's also easy to damage. Harsh chemicals and heavy cleaning can weaken the fibers. If the basket is on display or stored out in the open, it should have a regular dusting with a soft cloth or feather duster. A hand vacuum is also helpful for getting dust out of wicker baskets.
To remove dirt that doesn't come off with a simple dusting, dampen a soft cloth and wipe the wicker clean. If dirt is stubborn, use a mild soap, such as dish detergent diluted in water. Dampen a sponge with the cleaning solution and gently wipe the area clean. Avoid getting the wicker too wet, as it can cause warping. Dry the wicker basket once it's clean. Avoid putting wicker items like straw paper plate holders in the dishwasher, as the water and soap in a dishwasher will damage the holders.
- The Wicker Woman: How-to Care for Wicker Baskets – 12 Top Tips!
- Maids by Trade: How to Clean Woven Baskets
- Bob Vila: Care and Cleaning Keep Wicker Wonderful
- Almac: How to Care for Wicker Baskets
- Cleanipedia: How to Clean Your Wicker Furniture in 5 Steps
- Merry Maids: How to Clean Your Wicker Baskets
- HowStuffWorks: What is Wicker?
Deb Ng is a freelance writer and published author with over 17 years of experience in creating content for the web. Prior to her freelance career, she worked for over 12 years in traditional (print) publishing. In her spare time, Deb is an avid gardener who loves nothing more than bringing flowers and vegetables to life. She doesn't have as much time to spend outside as she'd like, however, because she's also assisting her husband with the DIY projects needed to complete their family home. See Deb's gardening and home improvement articles at LoveToKnow, Wisegeek, and Alloy.