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With Proper Cleaning and Care, There's No Rest for the Wicker

July 09, 1994|From Associated Press

Summer is a good time to take stock of your wicker pieces and renew their beauty. Old wicker will reward an annual cleaning with many additional seasons in the sun.

Take your sturdy, machine-made wicker settees, chairs and plant stands, which succeeded late-Victorian handmade wicker, outdoors. Hose them down and let them dry. Avoid direct sunlight when you're cleaning the pieces and use a natural soap.

Very old wicker is too delicate for spray cleaning, but the coiled backs and arms are dust-catchers all the same. Take these items outside and use a long-handled brush to clean out the coils. Then go over them with the soft brush of your vacuum cleaner.

Old wicker should be used outside only on well-sheltered porches or terraces. Cushions must be sturdy and fit snugly against the back and arms to reduce wear against the fragile woven rattan.

Don't be surprised if sprucing up the back-yard furnishings awakens a longing for something new. Though antique wicker is scarcer now, choice pieces are still to be had. Try country estate auctions for some fortuitous bargains. Also, reproductions of antique outdoor furniture are available from stores that specialize in such furnishings.

When testing wicker furniture, pick it up to feel the heft. New pieces are made with lighter materials such as bamboo and won't feel as durable as the old pieces, many of which have hardwood frames and dowels. Sit on the pieces to check for comfort and sturdiness.

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