How To Clean Rope Chairs and sofas

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Outdoor furniture is at the mercy of the elements, whether that may be sun, rain, wind, or just kicked up dirt and debris. It doesn’t take long for outdoor furniture to start looking a little dirty. It also doesn’t take long to clean up the dirt or stains and restore your rope furniture to its once pristine condition. When deciding how to clean rope chairs, you’ll first want to take into account how soiled the chairs are. Below are the different levels of dirty and how to tackle each level.

how to clean rope furniture like this Ria dining set from Ratana
View more from the Ria Collection by Ratana

Level one: Mildly soiled, with some dirt and debris

For light dirt, you’ll do a light clean. At this level of grime, your rope furniture won’t be horribly dirty, but with some quick work, you can get it looking in tip-top shape. At this level, you’ll focus on brushing away debris and gently cleaning the rope with a soap solution. 

  • Use your hand or a soft bristle brush to sweep off crumbs, dirt, and any leaves or twigs.
  • Mix together a cleaning solution. Use a 1:16 ratio of mild detergent and warm water. 
  • Liberally soak the rope and allow the soap solution to soak into the fibres. 
  • Use a sponge or soft bristle brush to gently clean the rope. Scrub with light pressure.
  • Thoroughly rinse the rope with clean water. Allow to air dry until completely dry.

Level one dirt can typically be cleaned in just a few minutes. Your chair will be ready for action as soon as it’s finished air drying. 

Soft brushes are perfect for gently but effectively cleaning your rope furniture
Soft brushes are best when removing debris

Level two: Small stains, food stains

At level two, you’ll notice unsightly stains on your rope furniture. They may be especially noticeable if your rope is lighter in colour. Food is the common culprit of furniture stains, but substances like animal feces and mud can do it too.

  • Clear off loose dirt/debris first. 
  • Mix together a solution of soap and warm water. Use a more concentrated ratio of soap and water, around 1:14. 
  • Soak the stain.
  • Use a soft cloth to blot the stain–it’s important not to scrub back and forth, as this could spread the stain. 
  • Keep blotting and soaking with soapy water until you remove the stain.
  • Let your rope chair air dry.

Level three: Mildew

Like any outdoor patio set, outdoor rope furniture can be prone to mildew. It’s not the material of the rope itself where mildew grows but the dirt and organic material that may have attached or been left on the rope. 

Standing water and/or humidity promote the growth of mildew, so it’s most common to find at the dip in the seat where water naturally gathers. The cleaning solution for mildew is a bit more intense, but for clean rope furniture, it’s required. You don’t want to sit your caboose in mould or mildew!

  • Brush off dirt and loose debris. 
  • For your special mildew solution, mix four teaspoons of bleach with one teaspoon of mild detergent. Add this to a cup of water. For ease, transfer the solution into a spray bottle. 
  • Evenly spray the solution until the rope is thoroughly soaked. Allow it to soak for fifteen minutes.
  • Take a sponge or a soft bristle brush and gently scrub away the mildew. 
  • Rinse each piece of furniture three times–this is important, as all of the bleach must rinse out. 
  • Air dry.

For mildew cleaning, you may want to wear gloves or other protective gear, as bleach can be irritating even in small amounts. Be sure to rinse three times at a minimum. 

Level four: Tough stains

These are the stains that have been around a while. They may be crusty, brown, black, and seem entirely uncleanable. Fortunately, that’s not the case. 

  • As usual, brush off dirt and debris. 
  • Use a soft bristle brush and scrub the stain while it’s dry. This helps remove any solid gunk. 
  • Take a tablespoon or so of white vinegar and soak the stain. Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes. 
  • With a clean brush, scrub at the stain after the soaking period. Rinse the brush as needed. 
  • For very tough stains, add a sprinkle of baking soda after soaking with white vinegar. Let it sit for 5-8 minutes then scrub. 
  • Rinse thoroughly and air dry.

This tough stain method can also be used for stubborn mildew stains. Be sure to use caution when working with any of the above materials.

Keep your rope furniture clean to maximize its lifespan

No one likes sitting on a dirty-looking sofa or chair. If you’re getting some use out of your outdoor patio set, make sure you give it an occasional clean. This prevents mildew as well as keeps your furniture looking fresh. When you have great-looking outdoor furniture it’s a pleasure to have people over and it lasts a lot longer when you keep it in great shape. Click here for woven rope outdoor furniture ideas or here for some fresh new outdoor seating ideas.


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