If you have old wicker or are considering buying vintage pieces, some cleaning and other spiffing up might be in order. If the piece is in good condition structurally, restoring its original beauty is easy. The key to keeping wicker beautiful is regular, gentle cleaning. Here’s how: To clean wicker, a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment might be all it takes. But if the piece has deep, dirty crevices, an air compressor and blow gun tool (or simply a can of compressed air) will work better.
Once the surface dirt has been whisked away, wash the furniture with a solution of warm, mild soapy water using a very soft brush. The water must be used sparingly, and the furniture must be put outside to dry completely. The wooden frame of wicker furniture will warp if the piece does not dry quickly. If the furniture looks great at this point, your job is done. If, on the other hand, it needs painting, read on. Before painting, go through the previous cleaning steps. Next, sand rough spots and flaking paint, using very fine sandpaper. To remove shellac, apply household ammonia with a soft brush. To remove paint, any commercial paint remover will work. Warning: Do not strip paint or varnish from reed furniture or from fiber-rush furniture. The reed will be weakened, and the rush fibers will roughen. To paint or varnish, use a spray gun. The job will be much easier than using a brush, and the piece will show a more even color. When painting or varnishing, apply thin coats. They dry faster, are more durable and will look much better. To keep wicker looking good, follow these four easy steps: Keep it out of the weather. Cover the furniture when it is not going to be used for a while. Vacuum often with a soft brush attachment. Clean periodically with a damp cloth and occasionally with mild soap to remove dirt. Source: By ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN Scripps Howard News Service