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How to Clean a Wicker Baskets: Step by Step Guide

Today we are talking about how to clean wicker baskets. I will show you the best way to clean a vintage basket to remove years of build-up and what to use when cleaning a wicker basket.

How to clean wicker baskets that are old

Lately, vintage decorations have been the craze and baskets are an easy thing to decorate with and easy to find. But when you buy an old basket, you are purchasing other things that have been in contact with that basket like smoke and pet hair, to name a few. And your wicker basket will collect dust. Learning how to clean a wicker basket will extend its life and beauty.

So, if you buy a beautiful old vintage basket follow these steps on how to clean a basket to bring out its lovely color and remove any odors from the natural materials without any harsh chemicals.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links below. All opinions are all my own.

How to Clean Wicker Baskets

To begin here is a list of supplies you will need to clean your basket.

Shop Wicker Basket Cleaning Supplies:

As you can see you do not need many things to clean a basket but before we jump into the simple steps let's talk about what baskets you should not clean.

Can I Clean an Antique Basket?

If you have an old antique basket that is very special or precious to you then you might want to reconsider cleaning the basket with a lot of water.

This farm basket is an old basket I found at an antique store. It was used to pick fruit and vegetables on a local farm in my hometown. I love how vintage decorations have a story or history so when I found this basket in an antique store in my hometown I knew I wanted to handle it with care.

How to clean wicker baskets antique and thrifted

So today we are going to give it a bath and then wash another old basket I found at a thrift store. This will walk through the best way to clean antique or thrift baskets.

How to Clean an Antique Basket

Like I said before, this is an old picking basket which means it probably has lots of dirt and grime in between the layers. I want to bring it back as close to its original beauty without taking chances and damaging the wood.

First, I removed the heavier dust carefully with a clean Dollar Tree paintbrush or a soft brush would work, especially between the wicker weave and around the base of the basket.

Cleaning in a basket with clean dry paint brush

Next, I used a lint-free old dishtowel or soft cloth that is damp with water and started wiping it from the top down. Each time I noticed my towel looking dirty I cleaned it out and brushed the damp cloth over the wood again. Be sure not to use too much moisture. Continue until you've wiped down the entire piece.

How to clean an antique basket with soapy water and lint free cloth

Once I was finished, I left the basket set outside in the sun until it was completely dry.

This basket didn't necessarily get a deep clean but it is clean enough for display. Now let's talk about giving a wicker basket a deep cleaning.

How to Clean a Thrift Store Basket

Now let's talk about baskets that you care more about getting good and clean and less about saving them.

This small hanging basket I picked up at a thrift store. I bought it to hang in my garage over my woodworking table. It holds all my protective goggles and between spider webs and sawdust, it is one dirty wicker basket with a musty smell.

So, let's give this basket a deep cleaning because I want to hang it over my mantel. But before we dive in, I want to share that this method is for baskets that you don't have anything to lose in case it gets damaged. Meaning do not try this on a basket you really love and want to keep.

Two baskets ready to be cleaned

First, fill a tub or kitchen sink with gentle dishwashing liquid and clean water. I used Dawn dishwashing liquid.

If you want to bleach the color of the basket you can add bleach now. But if you simply wash it with detergent there is a good chance it will lighten a little naturally.

Add a 1/8 cup of bleach if you want to, otherwise, let's move forward with cleaning without bleach.

Now dust off your entire basket with a clean Dollar Tree paintbrush.

Next, dip the basket down into the bath of soapy water. Move it up and down a few times to let the water flow between the wicker fibers. Woven baskets can collect dust between the fibers.

How to wash a thrift store wicker basket

If you have really bad stains or grease of any kind on the wicker, use an old toothbrush or brush to clean between. For best results, it's a good idea to take special care and be very gentle because when the wicker gets wet it can be bent or moved easily.

Once you feel like the wicker is clean, rinse it off gently with clear water.

Cleaning a wicker basket by rinsing it with clear water after washing it with detergent

Final Steps for Cleaning your Wicker Baskets

Place it in the sun to air dry.

Sitting washed baskets out to dry in the sun

Now let's leave them in the sun for a couple of hours. Keep a watch on the weather outside just in case it decides to rain on you.

A couple of hours have passed so let's look at the two baskets.

Basket just washed and dry

Wow! Do you see what I see? After a thorough cleaning, the small basket got a lot brighter and lighter.

Freshly cleaned wicker baskets

The coloring got lighter from what it looked like in the beginning. I can imagine if I used bleach it would have lightened even more.

See how simple it is to clean baskets? Cleaning a basket isn't rocket science. These cleaning methods are simple and safe for your wicker baskets.

Final Thoughts

Now you might be wondering, can I clean wicker on chairs and outdoor furniture using this method? The answer is yes, but I would consider leaving out the bleach unless you want to bleach the wicker and take your chances damaging it.

You might also be wondering why I buy wicker baskets in thrift and antique stores. Well, different styles of baskets give so much character to any decorations. Wicker items are so versatile. The different types of wicker, colors, and textures add a lot of interest to your home decor.

Hanging basket on end of fireplace mantel filled with spring flowers of dogwood

I love using baskets in so many ways. Here are a few ideas for decorating with wicker baskets.

First, you can hang them on the front of a mantel as I did in the photo above. And you can hang them on walls like here in my tutorial on how to hang baskets on a wall.

Hang baskets on the wall

Here is another idea where I placed the basket we washed today above our mantel. Hanging a basket over and on a mantel is a fun and creative idea. If you need guidance on how to decorate a mantel, check out this tutorial on decorating a spring mantel.

Old vintage hanging basket over a fireplace mantel

Baskets look really pretty on top of bookcases or cabinets. I love adding larger baskets up high.

Displaying old baskets on top of a bookcase

These two baskets are fun because the large one is another basket from the antique store in my hometown. And the other smaller basket is brand new. It was a gift from my hubby for Mother's Day.

I share lots of other finds from thrift stores in my decorating from thrift stores post.

Even More Ways to use your Baskets

Here is another idea where I took a small basket and turned it into a pendant light. This DIY basket pendant light project is super easy and you can use all kinds of different baskets from old to new.

Hanging basket light

Another fun way to decorate with baskets is hanging a market basket on a hook. This is one of my favorite baskets. Fill it with fresh flowers daily or a few days at a time.

Doesn't that looks so pretty!!

French Market basket hanging on a wall

And last, probably the most important tip for decorating with baskets is storage. There are so many easy ways you can use baskets for storage.

Baskets for rainbow bedroom

Here is an example where we used baskets from the dollar store to decorate and use for storage in my niece's rainbow toddler girl bedroom. Here's a post with more ideas on how to decorate with wicker baskets.

You don't have to spend a lot on baskets. You can find them at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and even Etsy is a popular choice. Also, for new baskets, shop in regular stores and dollar stores. We found the ones in my niece's bedroom at the Dollar General. If you take good care of your wicker baskets they will last a long time. If you want to change up the look of your basket, check out my post about how to paint wicker baskets.

Now that you know all about cleaning wicker baskets, I would love to hear about the basket you are planning to clean. Is it old or new and what story does it have behind it? Share in the comments.

Good luck and I cannot wait to hear all about it!

Happy Decorating!

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