Cane and rattan have long been popular materials in furniture making. In the United States, rattan and cane furniture became popular during the 19th century as a lighter and less expensive option to the heavy furnishings being produced. It is regularly used indoors and outdoors (http://www.networx.com/article/deck-furniture-care-guide).
Native to Indonesia and its environs, rattan is a vine-like plant that lives among other plants and can grow to extreme lengths. The outer shell of the vine may be removed to be woven into rattan furniture and is durable and flexible. The inner core, or cane, is denser which makes it suitable for chair seats and other weight baring furnishings. These natural materials are very durable and will last for years with a very basic level of care.
1. Clean gently: Dust the furniture regularly with a soft cloth. Furniture polish is not necessary, but can be used sparingly. Never use paint thinners or abrasive creams to clean wicker or cane.
2. Dry wet rattan furniture well: A damp cloth with a mild furniture cleaner may be used, but take care not to soak the furniture. If it does become over saturated, dry outdoors in the sunlight, if possible. The natural plant material will generally return to its original shape, so take care not to bend it while wet.
3. Treat mildew immediately: If mildew or mold begins to form, use a strong bleach in soapy water to clean the affected areas. The furniture must then be immediately dried out of doors.
4. Vacuum rattan furniture with the brush attachment: Use the brush attachment on a vacuum on woven panels and furniture crevices. A dry brush with a medium bristle can also be used.
5. Lift rattan furniture when moving it: To avoid splitting the fibers, don’t drag furniture around.
6. Protect can furniture feet: Use felt pads or rubber stoppers to protect the feet of cane and rattan furniture.
7. Rotate rattan furniture: Natural fibers can fade in strong sunlight. This is a natural process and not necessarily bad. However, if possible, rotate furniture throughout the space on a regular basis so as to evenly distribute the fading. You might also consider installing blinds or awnings to reduce extreme sun exposure.
8. Humidify: Keep furniture away from areas of extreme heat as this can warp or overly dry out the furniture. Natural plant fibers require a certain level of humidity so as not to dry out and split. If you’re in a particularly dry area, add moisture to the air with a humidifier.
9. Oil rattan furniture: If splitting has occurred due to excessive dryness, the best thing to do is to make sure no further damage occurs by treating the rattan or cane with tung or boiled linseed oil and raising the humidity level of the space.
10. Prevent sagging with pillows: Cane seats are very strong and yet flexible enough to provide a comfortable “sit,” but they can sag over time. Most cane seats are made to be used with a cushion that not only makes the seating more comfortable, but also serves to spread the sitter’s weigh more evenly across the surface.
Linda Merrill is a Networx writer. Read more articles like this one (http://www.networx.com/article/10-tips-for-extending-the-lifespan-of-ra) or get help with your home projects on Hometalk (http://www.hometalk.com).