How to clean rattan furniture - bring your garden furniture back to life

Yes, you really should give your rattan furniture a sponge bath…

Garden sofas arranged on brick floor tiles in the corner of a garden by a garden wall
(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona (Bowen) Walker-Arnott)

Rattan furniture is famed for its beautiful weave, but there’s no doubt that these nooks and crannies are a breeding ground for dust, dirt, crumbs, cobwebs, and so much more. So, knowing how to clean rattan furniture is key. 

Of course, you probably don’t need us to tell you that the best rattan furniture is one of the most popular types of garden furniture on the market. Mixing form and functionality, rattan garden furniture offers a much softer and more stylish alternative to metal and wood. And while it’s also famed for its durability (especially if it's weather-resistant PE-rattan), you still need to give your rattan furniture the TLC it deserves.  

Everyone should know how to clean garden furniture, but knowing how to clean garden furniture is a whole different ball game. After all, this process involves a vacuum cleaner and a sponge bath…

How to clean rattan furniture 

‘Rattan furniture is synthetic, which has many benefits when it comes to cleaning it,’ explains Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. ‘Luckily, cleaning rattan is very easy.’ In fact, all you need to do is follow the step-by-step process below. 

A contemporary rattan seating set

(Image credit: Habitat)

What you’ll need


1. Remove the cushions

If you have a rattan sofa or dining chairs with cushions, you’ll need to remove them before cleaning the rattan bases. Then, you can inspect them and decide whether you need to clean them or not.

Cleaning furniture cushions is fairly easy but also very specific. So, always check the labels of your cushions before doing this. Some cushion covers can be washed in a washing machine, while others may need to be cleaned by hand. 

If you don’t need to clean them, just pop them somewhere safe while you clean the rest of the rattan furniture. 

Garden sofas arranged on brick floor tiles in the corner of a garden by a garden wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

2. Vacuum the furniture

If you have one of the best vacuum cleaners, you'll need to grab it for this next step. Ideally, you should actually use one of the best handheld vacuums for this job, as one of the best ways to clean rattan furniture is to vacuum it. 

The aim is to get into the nooks and crannies and remove any loose bits of dirt, food, or debris, so it’s also worth trying out different vacuum tools to ensure you can vacuum up as much as possible. If you don’t have these available, toothbrushes and cocktail sticks can also come in handy. 

Alternatively, you could just brush these larger pieces of debris off with a dry cloth. In fact, this is Steve’s preferred method of cleaning. 

He says, ‘Use a soft brush or clean cloth to brush off any dust and loose bits of dirt. You should repeat these two steps at least once a week during the summer months, and even during the winter months in order to keep your rattan furniture looking clean and tidy.’

Seating area just outside a black clad house with sofa and armchair covered by garden sail

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

3. Clean with warm, soapy water

Although there are some products out there that claim to clean rattan furniture, most experts would advise against using them. Steve says, ‘I wouldn't recommend using any abrasive cleaners, any really strong detergents, or anything with bleaches in as this could also damage the furniture.’

Instead, you should opt for a gentler solution of warm soapy water. Washing-up liquid should do the trick.

You can then dip the microfibre cloth into the soapy water and wring out the excess until it’s slightly damp. Then, wipe the cloth over the rattan, trying to get in between the weaves as much as possible. Again, if you need to get into smaller areas of the furniture, use a toothbrush.

After that, you can either wipe down the furniture with clean water or use a garden hose to get rid of any remaining bubbles or soap solution.

Steve adds, ‘You can also use a hose to clean any rattan furniture. However, please don't use power washers as this strength will damage the rattan.’

4. Leave it to air-dry

When you’re confident that your rattan furniture is as clean as can be, you should then leave it to air dry. This step is very important as you don’t want to put your cushions back onto wet furniture. This could contribute to mould growth, which is even harder to clean.

If you want to speed up the process, just move the furniture into the sun. In fact, we’d always recommend cleaning your rattan furniture on a warm and sunny day so it’ll dry fairly quickly. 

Garden with set of beige rattan furniture with glass top on table.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Keep it covered

Although it’s easy to clean rattan furniture, it can be time-consuming - especially if you also want to clean your paving slabs and plant your summer bulbs. Thankfully, there is a way to reduce how often you need to clean your rattan furniture. 

Yes, outdoor furniture covers are great at keeping dirt and grime at bay when you’re not using the furniture. Alternatively, you could go one step further and bring one of these patio cover ideas to life.

Caron Grant, Brand Manager at Bridgman, says, ‘To prevent fading and sun bleaching, for pieces left uncovered in a strong sunspot, make sure to use a furniture cover when not in use. This protective cover can also help to keep the furniture clean.’


How do I make my rattan look new again?

To clean rattan furniture, start by giving it a vacuum. By doing this, you can remove large pieces of dirt and debris and get rid of any lingering dust. 

Then, wipe down with warm soapy water. This gentle cleaning solution should be enough to cut through the dirt without harming the rattan in the process, and is can be very easily rinsed off. 

Finish by letting it air-dry.

What is the best way to clean rattan?

Warm, soapy water is all you need to clean rattan furniture. You can do this with a microfibre cloth, but bear in mind that you may need a smaller tool - such as a toothbrush - to get into all of the grooves, nooks, and crannies. 

Can you pressure-wash rattan furniture?

Most experts would advise against pressure-washing rattan furniture, as it can damage the furniture in the process. Instead, focus on cleaning by hand using warm, soapy water. 

This way, you’ll be able to maintain the integrity of your garden furniture while keeping it clean at the same time. 

Now you know how to clean rattan furniture, it’s time to wait for a sunny day to get started! 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.