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24 June 2008

Caring for your baskets

I love baskets. I often take a basket with me when I go to my voluntary job, or out with Hanno to do the grocery shopping. When we go out for the day, I pack my basket with fresh sandwiches, fruit, water and tea so we don't have to buy food or a drink while we're out. I also use baskets around the home here. I have a little basket I use to collect eggs and herbs and I have baskets that I use to store fabric and yarn. They're really useful and look wonderful just sitting around waiting to work.

This is the basket I took to work yesterday.

My baskets really earn their keep and often get quite dirty in the garden or when I take one out on a picnic. Unlike a cloth bag that can be thrown in the washing machine and dried on the line, baskets require a little more thought in their care.

My tools for basket cleaning are a stiff brush - like a shoe polishing brush, an old toothbrush, soap, a bowl of warm water and some terry toweling rags or old towels.

I've just noticed this basket is drying out - you can see it in those greying areas. That's easily fixed by rubbing a light application of olive oil over the weave after its next wash.

Remove everything from the basket and take it outside. Take your shoe brush, dip it in the warm water and rub a little bit of soap on the bristles, dip in the water again and start scrubbing the basket. Work all over the basket, if you have smaller places to clean, use the toothbrush. Make sure you don't dislodge any of the weave, it you do, gently return it to its rightful place. You might use a pencil or an old chopstick to do that. If you leave it, it will dry with a hole in the weave and over time that may damage your basket.

When the basket is clean, take your outdoor hose and with a fairly sharp jet nozzle, hose over the weave removing all the dust and soapy water. When you're satisfied all the soap is gone, wipe the basket thoroughly with a terry cloth, then sit it on a cloth to dry in the shade. Depending on the weather, it might take two days to completely dry. Don't use the basket until it is dry as that will stretch the weave.

Cleaning a basket this way doesn't damage the cane or wicker. As the basket slowly dries, it will tighten up the canes and if you've been careful not to move the weave, you'll have a basket as good as new. Baskets last many years if cared for and kept clean.

You can often find old baskets at second hand store or garage sales. If you see one you like, check the weave for damage and look at the base and handle. If it's all in order, even if it's really dusty or dirty, it might be a wise investment. Clean it up using the instructions above and you'll have a friend for life.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about you having to do extra work sifting through comments and their links. As if you don't have enough to do!

    I love baskets too but I didn't know about using olive oil on them. Thanks for another great tip. (I always love your photos too.)

    Regards, Marilyn

  2. What a great idea! I didn't realize that you could use olive oil on baskets.

  3. Hi Rhonda Jean :) What a wonderful post! I have so many beautiful baskets inherited from my mother and had no idea how to clean them properly. Thanks so much! Love, Q

  4. Another great bit of advice! I have a basket I take with me to the farmer's market and I just love it. I needed some good info about cleaning it, so thank you!

  5. Thank you! I usually just spray mine off in the sink and let them dry. This looks like a very thorough method. The olive oil tip is quite helpful also.


  6. Thank you for such excellent advice. I've never come across instructions for cleaning wicker baskets before but shall certainly have a go. I'm off to do some recycling this morning and just know that I'm going to find some baskets in the recycling shop at our local tip.

    Bright Blessings Rhonda Jean.

  7. I love baskets too! It's quite funny because I always go to my local charity shop every Friday with my daughter and the same woman works that shift. I've gotten to know her over time and she's always seen me buying any baskets they had (for .30pence you can't go wrong). So now, when she works during the week and a basket comes in, she puts it away for me until I turn up on a Friday! Bless. I've always found a great use for them too.

    Thanks for the tips on cleaning, very much appreciated! :D


  8. I love baskets. I only have one at the moment and it's shut away in the top of the wardrobe. There just isn't space here to have it out. Thanks for the olive oil tip.

  9. Every time we go to the thrift shop I can't leave without buying a basket, because even though we own several, there always seems to be a good use for it. The last one I got I left empty, which turned out to be a good idea, because often my son or daughter will use it to "go shopping". Right now there are two dolls in it. :-)
    Good tip about the olive oil. I knew it, just never done it. I will put it on my to-do list, because it keeps them in better shape.

  10. I adore baskets and your tips for cleaning and preserving them are great!

    What a fantastic resource you've created Rhonda-Jean!


  11. I love the basket tips, thanks. They do add so much charm to every day and every task. I also loved getting a peak in at the chickens in a previous post. They are so sweet. I love 'em!

    The prospect of running out of oil is scary and tasks at hand to prepare are momumental. Thank for you insight and encouragement!

  12. Hi Rhonda
    Thanks for the info on the baskets. I have a few and didn't know you could give them a good clean like that.

  13. Thanks for the basket cleaning tips! I just used my big basket last night to harvest a row of lettuce. When my hubby washed the lettuce he set the basket right in the sink and sprayed the lettuce. I thought well why not?

    I love your blog and read it everyday. Here in the U.S. it seems that the only way you can do something is if it's the "Martha Stewart" way and anything less doesn't work.

    Your blog has helped me realize that good old need and invention is what really drives simple living.

  14. I love baskets too, I didn't know about using olive oil on them, great tip.

    I've bought mine new but on clearance - some were damaged, one had paint spilled in it and others were stocktake clearouts.

    I covet the basket in your first picture, it's just beautiful.


  15. Oh my goodness... I was just about to dump a pile of baskets (dump not donate!) because I thought it would be too manky and vile to donate them to charity and I never thought that baskets were cleanable! Shame on me and thanks to you for saving the baskets from destruction xxx

  16. I love baskets too Rhonda, I have one in the bathroom with toilet rolls in, one for my sewing and one I use for my shopping if I am just going to the market. I clean mine with a damp cloth.

    I was very tempted to buy one when we were in France, they have some really lovely ones on the markets there.

  17. I use baskets for everything too. Thanks for the great cleaning tips. I've always washed mine and hung to dry , will have to try the olive oil.

    ~ Blessings ~ JoyceAnn

  18. I love baskets!!! I buy any basket that has different "lines" to it. I LOVE the first one pictured! I sold all my neat baskets in a garage sale when we moved into the RV - I'm collecting again!

  19. I'm a faithful reader of your blog, but I do not have a blog of my own. I was wondering if you would do a post about volunteer plants. I have several in my garden and have heard that they do not always produce fruit even if they flower. I'm pretty sure one of the volunteers is suppose to be a zucchini but the shape and coloring of the fruit is so unique (fatter and lighter than regular zucchini) and it took forever to even produce the fruit. I know that it is not another type of squash because I didn't plant any other types. Just interested in what you would have to say about these mysterious plants and if they are worth keeping around!
    Liz (Southwest Virginia)

  20. Wonderful I thought I was the only basket addict in the world... I live in West Africa where traditional basket-making is alive but endangered by a huge influx of cheap plastic bags that pollute the landscape and endanger poultry and small animals. I consider it my duty to encourage this traditional art form as best I can- or that's my excuse anyway!

    Many thanks for your blog - I am interested in many of the same things and love to find a blog that is well written.


  21. I have noticed that one of my baskets seems to have a little mold. Will spraying it down with vinegar do the trick?


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