How to clean cane chairs

Written by amber keefer
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While cane furniture is often a practical choice for everyday use, it can be expensive to have chair and rocker seats and backs re-caned. Considering the cost to replace the cane, it is well worth the time it takes to keep the cane clean and in good condition. Even though cane is strong, it is not as sturdy as wood. However, if properly cared for, cane can last for about 20 to 30 years r before needing to be replaced.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Scrub brush
  • Clean cloths or sponge
  • Vacuum cleaner brush attachment

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  1. 1

    Clean chairs outside on a warm, sunny day when there is a breeze. and air humidity is low. High humidity is not good for cane furniture as mould and mildew can form.

  2. 2

    Turn the chair over so that the underside of the seat is facing upward. Use a sponge or soft scrub brush to wash the cane with hot water until it is completely soaked. Add a mild soap to the water if the caning is really dirty. Wash cane seats on both sides.

  3. 3

    Soak a cloth in denatured alcohol to clean the cane seat of a chair that is badly stained. Denatured alcohol is a mild solvent that evaporates quickly. Be careful not to get any alcohol on the wood finish of the chair. After wiping the cane clean, the seat may appear dull at first. Follow by washing with hot, soapy water and then rinsing. Cane seats should be thoroughly cleaned and moistened at least once or twice each year.

  4. 4

    Dampen a cloth in a solution of ¼ to ½ cup of bleach per gallon of hot, soapy water if mould is present on the cane. Scrub gently to remove the mould.

  5. 5

    Rinse well with clean water before placing the chair in a shady area where it can dry in the open air. The caning should shrink and tighten again as the water evaporates and the seat dries. Some people choose to keep the seat covered with a damp towel so that the cane dries slowly. Avoid sitting on the seats for at least 24 hours or until the cane has thoroughly dried.

  6. 6

    Dust between the grooves of the cane using a clean, dry paintbrush. Use a soft brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt from the close weave. Clean the surface of the cane about every eight weeks with a soft, moist cloth.

  7. 7

    Prevent outdoor cane furniture from yellowing by adding one cup of lemon juice and ½ cup of salt to a pail of warm water. Wet a scrub brush with the solution and scrub the cane.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not store cane-bottom chairs outside or in a basement where the air is damp and humid, or air circulation is poor. Keep cane furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Arrange the pieces so that they are not sitting near radiators and heat ducts, or in front of windows unless blinds are used.

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