How to Clean and Care for Rattan Furniture

Kim asked: How do I clean, strengthen and revive rattan furniture? I used to have directions using boiled linseed oil that worked great, but I must have lost them. Has anyone ever heard of this method?

Rattan is an attractive, lightweight, and durable material for furniture. It’s also eco-friendly, as the plants are fast-growing and plentiful. Whether you choose to display your rattan indoors or out, following these steps will keep your rattan clean and in good repair.

You Will Need:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Water
  • Soft cloth(s)
  • Bowl
  • Toothbrush
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Lacquer
  • Paintbrush

Steps to Clean the Rattan:


  1. Fill a bowl with water. Add a few drops of dish detergent and stir to agitate until bubbles form on the surface.
  2. Dip a soft cloth into the bubbles only, not into the water.
  3. Wipe the rattan with the bubbles. The slight moisture cleans without over-wetting the rattan, which can cause damage.
  4. Use a toothbrush or other soft brush to clean in the cracks and crevices, using the same suds-only cleaning method.
  5. Repeat weekly for best results.
  6. To restore dry, cracked, or split rattan, apply boiled linseed oil with a brush. When the furniture won’t absorb any more oil, wipe it clean with a soft cloth. Allow it to dry or harden before using the rattan again.
  7. For a thorough cleaning or to remove stains, apply detergent and scrub with slightly more water than you do for routine cleaning. As soon as you’re done, dry the rattan with a hot hair dryer or set it out in the sun. Once the rattan has dried completely, apply a coat of lacquer with a paintbrush to provide added protection if desired. Repeat annually.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Although rattan may be used outdoors, it’s best not to leave it in the sun or otherwise exposed to the elements. The material will break down much more quickly under these circumstances.
  • Place rubber stoppers under the legs of rattan. The cushion helps keep the material from cracking or splitting.
  • Make sure you use BOILED linseed oil. Raw linseed oil will not dry or harden.



  1. Hannah says:

    Hi, and thanks for the information on cleaning my Rattan garden furniture. It has been a massive help. I bought my Rattan furniture new from the store, and although its still great, it could do with a good cleaning now! Thanks once again for your help. H X

  2. Carole says:

    The decorator sold us rattan furniture to use on our lanai in Florida. The furniture looks terrible due to mildew and peeling. I may have to just junk it and buy the typical plastic furniture! Over the years we have cleaned it and applied lacquer, but it only lasts for about a year before looking terrible again. What an expensive mistake!

  3. GabVVVVVVV says:

    If you are using rattan, wood or anything subject to weathering in the strong sun, you should use at least three coats thinly applied UV coating. There are many on the market; go to a hardware store where they know what they are talking about (hint: they will ask you a few questions about your project before they will give you an answer.)

  4. Sy says:

    Thank you for the boiled linseed oil tip. I have two 150+ year old ratan chairs that my great-grandfather made. It sounds like this will help them in our dry NM climate.

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