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Caring For Everyday Or Antique Wicker Baskets

Everyone loves gift baskets, not only for the exciting contents and the thoughtfulness of the giver, but because of the baskets themselves. When the goodies are gone, you're left with a marvelous basket that's useful as well as decorative. And no matter what your decor -- from country to contemporary -- a basket fits right in. Wicker is one of the most popular basket materials. While wicker is certainly not indestructible, the dry conditions inside Egyptian tombs preserved some baskets for 4,000 years. Over time, baskets passed between countries as goods were traded, and patterns in weaving marked individual cultures. Collecting both modern and antique baskets is a popular hobby, and some baskets are woven with great artistry. But whether your treasured baskets are new, or belonged to great-grandmother, you should know the best ways to take care of them.

How to care for wicker baskets

Air and Water.

High humidity is not only uncomfortable for humans, but bad for baskets. But it's a tricky balancing act. Too much water can make wicker fibers swell and distort, but air that's too dry can make the wicker brittle and prone to damage. It's best to keep wicker baskets indoors, out of bright sunlight, and in air-conditioned or dehumidified rooms during the summer.

Dust it, don't drown it.

The best way to keep wicker baskets clean is to dust them regularly. Dusters that can reach into the woven crevices are ideal for regular cleaning, but to reach all the dust, you can use a soft brush. If you're a crafter or painter, and have a wide camel-hair brush, that's ideal. You can use tweezers to get out any embedded dirt or foreign objects, but be careful not to poke a hole in the wicker. You can also clean wicker with a damp -- not wet -- soft cloth.

Keep them moving.

Don't confine your baskets to the same space, month after month or year after year. Move them around to different rooms or different areas of the same room. That way, they're exposed to various amounts of light and environmental conditions. Keeping baskets in a window for a long time isn't great for the wicker, or for the beautiful patina of the basket, as light encourages fading.

Mold and mildew.

If you see mold or mildew on your baskets, this is a serious condition. You may be able to remove it, if you're careful. Use a mixture of bleach and water and apply with a damp -- not wet -- soft cloth, then rinse the wicker thoroughly with a clean damp cloth. If your wicker is antique, your best bet is to take it to a professional for mold or mildew removal. And if you have a basket with delicate hand-painted motifs, you might not want to try this at all.

Kids, pets and other hazards.

You'll want to keep your antique baskets where kids won't knock them off while playing. However, the real threats to wicker are dogs and cats. A nice, crunchy wicker basket is indistinguishable from a chew toy to pets, and cats love to sharpen their claws on wicker. Best to keep your baskets out of reach!

Repairing your baskets.

If your basket is just used for everyday, you can repair small breaks with a dab of strong glue. However, a collectible is a different matter. The material is fragile, and repairs are best left to a professional restorer. Hanging baskets. Baskets make lovely wall ornaments. But wicker can distort, so make sure that you use hangars or hooks that will support the weight of the basket.

For all kinds of beautiful baskets, ready to be filled with various delights, contact us for information.