How to Clean Straw Rocking Chairs


Rocking chairs with straw backs and seats, referred to as rush or reed, require careful cleaning so as not to ruin the rocking chair. Typically, manufacturers make straw rocking chair parts from swamp grasses or the core of rattan. Some manufacturers market twisted paper products as straw back and seat rocking chairs. Rocking chairs accumulate dust and dirt, which can be abrasive to the material and damage it. Regular cleaning is necessary to extend the life of straw rocking chairs and keep them clean.

Things You'll Need

  • Microfiber rag
  • Wood furniture cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Soft scrub brush or stiff paintbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Compressed air
  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery brush attachment
  • Melamine-foam sponge or dry-rub cleaner
  • Wipe the wooden parts of the rocking chair with a microfiber rag to remove dust and dirt from the surface. Spray wood furniture cleaner onto the rag and wipe the wood surfaces using care so as not to touch the straw if the wood is excessively dirty. You can also mix one tsp. mild dish soap into one qt. of water. Dip a rag in the soapy solution, wring it out so it is barely damp and wipe down the wood to clean it.

  • Rub the straw seat and back with a soft scrub brush or stiff paintbrush to loosen dirt. Use an old toothbrush to loosen dirt from crevices and surfaces where a larger brush does not reach. Turn the rocking chair upside down and loosen dirt from the underside of the seat. Spray difficult-to-reach areas with a can of compressed air to blow dirt from tight woven areas.

  • Equip a vacuum hose with an upholstery brush attachment and vacuum loose debris from the straw surfaces including the underside.

  • Rub stains with a melamine-foam sponge until they are no longer visible. You can also use a commercially available dry-rub cleaner. Sprinkle the dry rub on the surface and rub it over stains until the stain lightens sufficiently or disappears entirely. Vacuum the chair a second time to remove excess dry-rub cleaner or shredded bits of the melamine-foam sponge.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider hiring a furniture restoration specialist to clean antique or valuable straw rocking chairs if they are very dirty.
  • Avoid using water on straw rocking chairs; water will damage the straw.

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  • "New Fix-It-Yourself Manual: How to Repair, Clean, and Maintain Anything and Everything In and Around Your Home"; Reader's Digest Editors; 1996
  • "2,001 Amazing Cleaning Secrets"; Jeff Bredenberg; 2004
  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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