Rattan is the name given to a huge range of climbing palms growing in the tropics and sub-tropics, mainly coming from Indonesia. It is similar to bamboo, but whereas bamboo has a hollow core, rattan is solid. Rattan is used for making hard-wearing and attractive furniture, often chairs, settees and tables. It is available in a wide range of styles and is typically used in the conservatory.
Looking After Furniture Made from Rattan
To keep the furniture looking good, it is advisable to stop leaving it in the sun for prolonged periods of time, as this will cause it to crack and dry out. If the furniture is in the conservatory, it may be wise to pull the blinds down on sunny days when the room is not in use. Standing the furniture on rubber stoppers will absorb shock when it is in use and should therefore help to prevent the rattan from splitting or cracking.
Cleaning Furniture Made from Rattan
The best way to keep rattan furniture looking new is to minimise the build-up of dust and dirt by regular cleaning with a dry brush. A nail brush or toothbrush is suitable for this as the soft bristles will be able to get in between the strands where dust and other bits of debris may lodge. The brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner may also be used. Whether using a hand brush or vacuum cleaner, this should not be done too vigorously and care should be taken not to part the strands in the weave as the shape may become distorted.
For general cleaning, a weak soap solution, such as dishwasher soap, should be wiped on with a soft, damp cloth. The cloth should be dipped into the soap suds, not into the water, as too much wetting can cause damage to the rattan strands. A toothbrush or nail brush can be dipped into the bubbles and then used, with considerable care, to clean the space between the strands.
If something is spilled onto the furniture and stains the rattan, or there is a general build-up of dirt, it may be necessary to use detergent and a cloth wet with slightly more water to rub the rattan with the aim of trying to remove any marks. Then the furniture needs to be dried quickly by being placed in the sun or by using a hairdryer.
If the rattan becomes dry or begins to crack, this means that it is losing moisture. This can be repaired by applying boiled linseed oil using a brush. When the rattan stops absorbing the oil, dry the surface with a soft cloth. The furniture should be dried before it is used again. If the surface is damaged, or to add some protection, paint a coat of lacquer. Polish should not be used on the furniture as it may cause damage to the lacquer.