Cleaning Antique Rush Seats

lewrightNovember 15, 2010

I have two turn of the century rush seat chairs that have been in storage for years. I want to clean up and use them! Both are black stained frames with natural rush seats. It looks like the seat has a shiny varnish on it. The chairs are in excellent shape, but the seats have dirt wedged between the cracks. Research on cleaning these seats states that they should be vacuumed, and a moistened toothbrush should be used to get into the ridges.

Do you agree with these methods? I'm not sure this is going to be enough to really clean the seats. Also, should I attempt removing the varnish on the seats or will it be detrimental to the chair?

Please help! Thanks in advance...

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That's about as clean as old rush seats can get ... the fibers are dust collectors. Removing the varnish would probably destroy the rushes. They are just grass leaves, twisted.

If they get wet, they don;t dry well and fall apart and mold. Ugly to see.

You could re-do the seats with fresh rush or other cord. It is not difficult, just tedious.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 8:35AM
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When I donated some furniture to The Salvation Army, they refused to take anything with wicker or rush materials. They don't want known dust-catchers.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:36AM
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I just replaced the rush fiber seat in an old Ethan Allen dining chair. There are excellent internet instructions and even a Youtube on doing it. Ordered rush fiber (kraft paper rush) from Amazon. I was quite pleased with the results. Will coat the seat with shellac. I am an old basketmaker and knitter so don't know if that experience helped. Peppygirl

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 5:25AM
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