old old baskets

DesiOctober 30, 2004

You guys are so helpful I am hoping someone knows about this problem. My MIL has been cleaning out her old basement and has found 2 or 3 really old baskets.....at least 50 years old. They seem in good shape except really dirty. Any ideas on how to clean? I'm kind of afraid to thoroughly wet/scrub them....but they are pretty dirty. Do you think wetting them would be a problem?

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I remember Martha stewart doing a show on this, she did wet them and even hosed them off with a mild detergent. She set them out in the sun to dry. Some of the more 'frail' ones she used some sort of spongue to get the residual dirt off. HOpe this helps.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 11:06AM
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I went online (biggest library in the world, hee hee) and they said DO NOT wash them, maybe you could check with someone who works with/makes baskets??? They are a natural material and "apparently" they can become damaged from water.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 6:57PM
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I've spryed off my baskets with the hose in the past, let them sit and the sun to dry. They look great and show no signs of decay. There's a big difference between spraying something off and letting it soak in water. I'd never soak a basket.
I remembering reading not so long ago that wicker should be sprayed off at least once a year with a hose to help keep it plyable and free from dirt. I can not imagine that it would be any different for baskets.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 8:14PM
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I've washed them with mild soap and a soft bruch, rinsed them and set them in the shade to dry.

You don't want to SOAK them for hours or keep them constantly wet, but just washing them is OK.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 8:27AM
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How about canned air? I have a can of 3M *dust remover* canned air in almost every room for cleaning silk flowers and such. Might work to get the dust off, at least?

I get mine cheaply at K-Mart in the computer supplies area.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 4:47PM
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It won't hurt to wash the baskets. I used to make baskets and you soak the reed so it is pliable while you are making them. When done they are just set off to dry.

I would give it a try. It will freshen them up.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 6:30AM
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You can use soap and H20 then after they have dryed, I used wood stain to revamp them. Stain takes a little longer to dry so becareful not to place on carpet untill it has dried well. If they have been painted just respray.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2004 at 1:08PM
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Baskets NEED washing....they will last longer if they are washed with water. the reed needs to be rehydrated.
I spray mine ( and I have several that are well more than 40 years old!...more like 100 years) with something like 409 and then rinse with a stiff spray of warm water.....and lastly spray with a mix of 2 T glycerine and 1 cup warm water.....
Linda C

1 Like    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 8:38PM
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Some of the smaller ones I run through the dishwasher. Not if they have any glue on them though. I have hundreds of baskets of all costs from free the $60. Hose, wash in dishwashing soap and rince well, brush, take in the shower with you. They should be wet down 2 times a year or they will get too dry and will break down during use much faster. Some batches I have put out during a rain storm and let them dry the next day.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 9:17PM
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if it is an old hand made basket i know it will be ok to wash with mild soap and spray easily with water..my grandfather made white oak basket's for years before his death ,,they are a lot of them still around in fair to great shape ...and that's how we clean them...they are all over 25 years old ....some much older,,

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 8:34PM
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Marcia Thornley

I have always sprayed my wicker with the garden hose to clean it. I heard that it keeps the wicker from drying out. I just sponge on some mild soap and water and then spray it off with a hose. Then just let it air dry in the sun.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 10:26AM
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I think you'll need to set the baskets in the sun to kill any mildew or mold that might result from their long disuse or from the dampness.

Have you considered putting the basket into a plastic bag with a cup or two of salt and shaking it, letting the salt beat the dust from between the fibers?


    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 9:37PM
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Washing off, spraying sure does not hurt baskets, but don't set them in the sun. Just air dry them. The sun will dry them out to fast in some areas, where they stay wet in other areas. hang in a airy place, to let them dry all around.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 6:20PM
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I wasn't clear in my post. The sun is an alternative to washing--or an adjunct, maybe. Anyway, it wasn't to dry the basket, it was to zap the little critters with sunlight.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 10:04PM
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How about a Mr. Clean sponge? Ilove those......and for conditioning and cleaning old wood I use go jo handcleaner... rub it in... rinse it off.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 5:21PM
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Hi What about some Murphy's oil soap?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2005 at 1:22PM
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One of the first things that gets done to a basket prior to weaving - the basket materials are soaked in water to make them plyable - don't think water is going to hurt them. I wash my baskets all the time and usually just use dish-washing soap then rinse and air-dry. I don't soak them - but I do however swish them around enough to make sure the dirt is out of them. I would only be careful with a rare collectible basket. If there is hand-painting on it - you don't want it coming off - especially if it has some value.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 10:14PM
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