Top 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Wicker Baskets

mild cleaning solution for wicker basket

You know, cleaning my wicker baskets is something I do all the time. These woven things get dirty really fast! But let me tell you, I was making some common mistakes that could mess up these delicate baskets if I wasn’t careful. Baskets are usually woven by hand using stuff like rattan, reeds, and bamboo. That’s what gives them their nice-looking braided look. But it also means I have to treat them really gently when getting them clean again.

If you want to take good care of your wicker stuff like I do now, knowing the best ways to clean them is super important. Because I learned the hard way that harsh chemicals can wreck everything. In this guide, I’ll tell you all about the mistakes I used to make washing wicker baskets. I’ll also share my easy tips. These lessons I learned will keep your baskets looking beautiful for a long time, just like mine!

Using Harsh Chemicals

For years, when cleaning my wicker baskets, I always reached for the bottle of bleach under the sink, thinking it would get them sparkling clean. But I noticed the wicker taking on a dull, tired look even after cleaning. The fibers seemed more faded than before.

Finally, it dawned on me that those harsh chemicals were stripping away the protective outer layer over time and using it repeatedly. Now I know bleach and other strong cleaners are just too rough. One time, I even gave myself a nasty headache from the fumes! Now, I mix up a solution of just a few drops of mild dish soap in warm water. It cuts through dirt and stains safely without corrosion.

For baked-on messes, I’ll make a paste out of baking soda, which lifts grease quickly with a soft-bristled brush. Vinegar is another go-to for its degreasing power without the harsh smell. Both get baskets fresh again without damaging delicate weaves.

wicker baskets cleaning tools and products

Soaking the Basket

When I first got into wicker over a decade ago, soaking seemed the only way to truly deep clean. I’d submerge whole baskets and let them overflow in the tub for hours, even overnight.

But then, one day, I noticed the base of a round laundry basket had started to bow out slightly from its usual straight shape. Yikes! That’s when I realized all that soaking allowed moisture deep inside woven cores where it couldn’t entirely escape.

The swollen fibers must have slowly weakened the structure over many soaked cleanings. Now, I know better than to dunk baskets for long periods. I use a soft cloth or sponge to spot-treat spills, careful not to oversaturate porous surfaces. A quick rinse is plenty for a fresh look.

Using Abrasive Tools

That metal brillo pad felt like it was doing the trick, scouting surfaces spotless! But after a year or two, I saw worn patches on some of my baskets where the wicker weave looked thinner.

After all, the fibers were delicate silk rather than sturdy plastic. That abrasive scrubbing, over time, was grinding right through the fine matting. Now, I stick to delicate microfiber cloths or brushes with soft, flexible bristles.

They lift dirt and residue without scouring or stripping the natural textures. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a little elbow grease versus harsh implements. Lesson learned the careful way.

Leaving the Basket Wet

Excess moisture promotes mildew growth, severely threatening the wicker’s structural integrity. Always allow baskets to air dry completely before putting them away to prevent lingering dampness issues. Place cleaned pieces in a well-ventilated area, like on a covered patio or open shelf, until no moisture remains.

Flipping baskets upside down aids the drying process, as water residue flows out of gaps. Avoid stacking damp designs, which can transfer moisture between porous interiors through contact points. Rotation and complete drying prevents costly repairs down the line.

Ignoring Hidden Dirt

wicker dirt

Even after a thorough outside cleaning, dust bunnies and dry crumbs gathered in hard-to-reach crevices over time. The cracks and folds underneath wicker weaves were perfect spots for debris to collect unseen.

But allowing that buildup meant baskets could have been fresher and cleaner. After washing exteriors, I take extra care to hit all those nooks with a paintbrush or small vacuum attachment. Just a few minutes of focused attention makes a big difference in cutting down on clutter.

The enclosed bases especially need quick swooshes since messes sink into those sunken wells. I’ve used compressed air a few times for hard-to-reach crevasses, carefully blasting out dust that stubborn cloth won’t grab.

Neglecting the Liner

I have to admit, I used to throw removable liners right in with damp baskets, hoping moisture would evenly “freshen” the whole interior at once. But soggy cotton holds smells just like any fabric. Now, I launder them separately as needed based on the material.

Thin silks get a gentle wipe-over with microfiber instead of being soaked. Fluffy cotton liners wash well on a cool, gentle cycle for shape retention. Happy tummies keep contents fresh versus neglected interiors attracting odors. A clean liner elevates any basket’s appeal and functionality versus overlooked mess catchers.

Overlooking Stains

I’d let spills linger too long in the past, hoping they would “soak out” on their own. But we all know spots only set deeper without prompt tending. Now, at the first red wine splotch or tearing, I blot up excess fluid and dab on some baking soda or vinegar as needed. Both naturally lift many fresh messes right away before permanent staining occurs.

Just yesterday, I ground coffee grounds into a groove, and both powders worked their magic with light rubbing rather than harsh scrubbing. If marks persist, a dime-sized drop of dish soap works gently into fibers, too. Experience has taught me that attentiveness is key before I have a tricky treat.

Forgetting About Sun Exposure

I used to think putting baskets in the sunny window looked so lovely. But then I noticed some getting faded each year from the intense rays. The natural fibers seemed drier, too.

The lovely pieces get passed on shelves or stored away when not handy. A couple even gets a cloth over the top when put aside. That protects their original colors longer so they stay beautiful.

Also Read: Cleaning Challenges of Wicker Baskets: Tips and Solutions

Treating All Wicker the Same

Before, I washed every basket the same way without much thought. Then, some started needing help with what I was doing, so I started paying closer attention to each one. It turns out some are plant rattan, while others have fake stuff mixed in.

Plus, not every kind likes the same cleaners. Taking time to learn what’s really in them helps me care for everything properly now instead of one-fits-all.

Maintaining Luster Between Cleanings

When I do the deep scrubbing throughout the year, it takes the heavy dirt away over time. But between them, I keep up with wipe-downs to keep things shiny. A quick pad with a soft cloth gets prints and dust daily rather than building up. Coasters under cups shield surfaces from rings in between washings, too.

These little regular touch-ups keep everything looking new with minor effort compared to massive work, fixing buildup later from neglected messes over time. Taking care of them bit by bit protects them better.