How To Clean Wicker Baskets

My love of baskets means that eventually I needed to figure out a way to clean wicker baskets — because I have a LOT of them around my house. In the kitchen, in the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the living areas — I just love the natural and rustic feel they add to a space. And if you know where to look, you can get them for next to  nothing!

My number one resource for cute baskets to decorate with is our local thrift store. I would guess that about 90 percent of the baskets in my home came from there. The bonus of buying them cheap from the thrift store is that you don’t feel too bad when you ruin one or just feel the need for a change and want to get rid of one.

But what I don’t love is how dirty baskets get! Especially in the kitchen and the bathroom where grease and hairspray and other sticky stuff coats them and attracts dust and dirt like a magnet! And it’s not like you can dust them either!

So there they sit — gathering even more dirt and dust until desperation sets in.

Well, at least that’s what happened to me.  I couldn’t stand the grimy baskets anymore and short of throwing them out, I decided to experiment with giving them a “bath” instead. I mean what did I have to lose? Some baskets that cost me a few dollars each…at the most?  I could live with that if my experiment went terribly wrong.

Since most wicker baskets (at least the ones I have) are made of wood products (ie. cane, rattan, reed, bamboo) I figured a little water couldn’t hurt them. After all, most bamboo is grown in tropical climates. So a little dip in the pool (sink) seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

On this particular day I needed to clean this basket that has been a fixture in our kitchen for years. It’s the basket shelf that sits next to our kitchen sink and holds all the diabetes supplies for No. 2 son. We are so used to it being there that I don’t know if we would know how to function without it! But it had been sadly ignored for quite awhile and needed a very well-deserved bath.

I filled the kitchen sink with warm, soapy water (use just a few drops of your favorite dishwashing liquid) and gave it a dip.

Actually SEVERAL dips. I know it looks like it didn’t fit, but after several tips and turns and the use of the sprayer, I managed to get it all washed. Just don’t let it sit in the water for very long. A quick dip will do ya!

And here is the dirty “bathwater” to prove it!  YUCK!!

After letting it drip dry for a few seconds…I immediately took it outside for a little sun bathing time. On this hot, sunny day it hardly took any time at all and the wicker shelf was completely dry and ready to be put back into service in the kitchen.

But this time it was clean, fresh and renewed. Much the same way I felt after successfully giving my trusty old wicker shelf a new lease on life!

Have you got an easy way to clean wicker baskets?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?
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    Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

  • You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic
    to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang
    of it!

  • When your baskets get dry looking you should oil them with lemon oil or a similar product like you do your furniture. Liquid Gold comes in a spray and is great for rejuvenating baskets as it gets into the nooks and crannies more easily.

  • I’m so glad you shared this because now I won’t be afraid to clean our wicker shelf in the bathroom, which is completely covered in dust hehe.

  • You’re not alone in your love for baskets. I too have them in every room in my house. Another place I have found many a cute wicker basket is at Dollar Tree, believe it or not. I am always on the lookout for a cute new one.

  • I have found an inexpensive way to clean colored baskets, silk plants & flowers is to use a large plastic or paper bag, pour 1/2 C table salt inside. Place the item to be cleaned in the bag. Close the top tightly, & shake the bag well. The salt will get into all those odd nooks & crannies knocking the gross stuff off. Over the shower or tub, pull items out & give a few healthy taps to remove any lingering salt out of the nooks & crannies. Dispose of salt & bag.

  • Compressed air works great to “dust” baskets (and other things) outdoors in between dips in the bath. You’ve reminded me it’s time to clean my own baskets while it’s still hot outdoors. Thanks!

  • Any ideas for cleaning the dispenser “paddles” on my side by side refrigerator? They are white and I have tried everything to get the gray and rusty stains off. Some of it is hard water I’m sure. I’ve used vinegar, bleach, peroxide and sprays for hard water. You can’t remove them to soak them either.

  • Oh wow this is awesome!! I have been needing a way to clean my baskets and this definitely fits the bill. I dust them but of course that doesn’t get the grime and grease off. Thank you so much for this tip-and for all the helpful tips in the comments as well!!

  • I will have to give the ‘basket bath’ a try, I use husband’s air compressor, and blow the dust off baskets, lamp shades, throw pillows, you name it. Only problem the compressor is a LARGE (well I did explain how large by saying it was ‘the husbands’!) one that has to stay in the garage, so I have to haul everything out, blow it off (that doesn’t sound right) shall I say clean it off, then haul it back in, but no drying time needed!

  • Being a basket weaver for over 20 years, I feel the need to add a couple of hints.
    1. Best not to use hot water – warm is better for the reed.
    2. Don’t do this on a humid day – the nooks and crannies take longer to dry and mildew can creep in quickly – something you don’t want!
    3. If there is colored reed woven into the basket you want to be extremely careful about placing the whole basket in the water – you could end up with color runs on your basket – not a pretty sight.
    4. Cleaning with the vacuum is a great option – add the upholstery brush to the hose and run over the entire basket – ofcourse this won’t get rid of grease.
    5. Don’t store baskets in a hot attic or humid basement – it will take years off the life of your basket.

    • I have a bassinet made of wicker that I just cleaned for my new grandchild that’s on the way. I’ve been hearing a noise coming from the wicker – does this mean that the
      wicker is dried out?

  • I too put it in the shower and spray it down with my household cleaner (dawn and vinegar) then use the handheld sprayer to rinse it down. I put the handheld shower in for bathing my dogs and it has been the BEST thing I ever did for everything from spraying my plants to cleaning the tub–and even bathing the dogs! LOL

    Between washing, I use a big 6″ paint brush to dust it off. I use my big paint brush to brush off all kinds of materials like lamp shades, baskets and other pieces with little places that are hard to get to while dusting.

    • Just a big AMEN to the handheld shower. Once you start finding stuff to use it on, starting with rinsing the shower down, you’ll wonder how you ever got by. When I start cleaning at a new house, one of the first thing I start diplomatically campaigning for is a hand-held attachment for each shower or tub. Every client I managed to persuade thanked me later.

  • @ Kathy-I have always used Murphy’s on my baskets. I clean them outside on a sunny day with a bucket of warm water & Murphy’s, scrub with a soft brush, rinse with the hose & dry in the sun.

  • Another tip: wet baskets may need to be weighted even with canned goods to maintain their shape while drying. I was a basket weaver once upon a time.

  • I do exactly the same thing with the sink and the dish soap, but as I’m thinking about it, I wonder how Murphy’s Oil Soap would work…

    • I happened to have Murphy’s Oil Soap on hand, so I used it since it seemed, to me, to be a good (and possibly better) choice for cleaning wood. It worked just find. That said, I’d go ahead and use the regular dish soap if that happened to be all I had on hand. It’s a minor detail and a matter of preference probably.

  • My mother and I have been washing our wicker this way for years! Works great! Most times I spray mine down with 409 which is an excellent grease cutter, then dip, dry and done! This also works good for artificial plants that are potted in a wicker basket. Spray the whole thing, plant and all with 409, then I stick it in the shower a few minutes and outside to dry. Makes the leaves shiny and the wicker basket all neat and clean.

  • I clean my baskets in the shower, then spray them with Pam. I have an obsession with wicker picnic baskets and have brought my garage sale finds back to life this way.

  • I love this! I do this all of the time, especially rubbish bins and clothes hampers. I hate when they’re dirty. It’s an OCD issue for me I guess. I put them in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will go and use the shower head to scrub em down. Usually the water is hot enough that it evaporates right away! If not, we just lay em out on the table till they dry.

  • Hi Jill
    very good explanation. I too heard after that water dipping you should get over it with an oil soaket peace of towel or something like that to protect it a little bit and give it a nice look.
    Greetings from Germany

  • You did exactly right. In fact, it’s recommended that you soak your baskets every now and then to keep them pliable and not brittle. Baskets are made by soaking the reed or wood in water to make it pliable enough to weave. Once it’s dry, it will keep it’s form. I stick mine in the walk-in shower now and then and use the hand-held shower head to spray them down and give them a good soak. If a basket get out of shape, getting it wet and letting it soak for a while will make it easily formable again. Some of that colored water that you think looks dirty may actually be from the reed that was used. Notice I said SOME. ;-)

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