Proper willow basket care
Hand crafted willow baskets are well known for their strength, durability, and unparalleled natural beauty. By following a few simple rules, you can ensure that your basket will bring you a lifetime of use for you and your pet, long after a metal basket would have rusted into a bent and broken mess.
Willow is strong but it is not indestructible
Don't leave willow baskets outside for long periods of time. Heat from the sun can dry out the natural fibers while rain can cause swelling. Over time shrinking and swelling of the fibers will shorten the lifespan of your basket. A good practice is to have the basket on your bicycle only when you need to use it.
Don’t overload your basket. Generally, willow baskets with a properly mounted front brace or rear bracket mount, will hold anything that will fit into it. But be careful that bulky items don’t place too much pressure on the sides, where the basket is weaker. If you ever notice warping of the material, then the basket is overloaded. Shift your items around to evenly distribute the weight.
Storing your basket when not in use
Where you store your basket when not in use is as important as how you use your basket while riding. Natural willow cannot be left outdoors year-round. Sun, rain, snow and wind will rot your basket and warp the frame. Don't store natural willow outside or in a humid basement or garage. Keep your basket indoors at a comfortable temperature, whenever possible.
Most people keep their bicycle in a garage when they aren’t riding, and that may be OK for the bike, but if the humidity in the garage is high then always remove the basket and store it somewhere indoors, like a closet. Better yet, our baskets are handsome enough to be shown in your home. We prominently display ours on a shelf where its natural beauty can be enjoyed. Remember, dry indoor heat can sometimes cause natural willow to dry out.
Cleaning and repair
Willow baskets should be cleaned with frequent vacuuming to remove dirt and sand. Wipe it afterward with a cloth dipped in mild household detergent that is safe for woodwork. A brittle brush can be used to remove stubborn dirt build up, if necessary, but be gentle.
When exposed to sunlight for extended periods, wicker may dry out, causing the fibers to become brittle and sometimes split. If your basket looks particularly dried out, you can lightly spray it down with demineralized water and allow it to air dry in a shaded area. To avoid damaging fibers and glue joints, this should be done only when necessary, at most once or twice a year.
If left outside, mother nature will eventually rot the fibers of the basket and will totally destroy them after a period of time. Our baskets are well sealed to ensure this is delayed for as long as possible, but no amount of weatherproofing will stop this reaction totally. The best way to prolong the life of the basket is to keep it indoors when not in use.
Mold and mildew:
If mold or mildew forms anywhere on your basket it can be removed with a bleach-water solution (one-quarter cup unscented household laundry bleach to one quart of water), or ammonia in water (2 tablespoons of ammonia to one gallon of water). This treatment may lighten the willow fibers, so wash the entire piece to keep its color uniform.
If the baskets varnish becomes dull, you can usually restore its luster by rubbing with a soft cloth dampened with furniture polish or lemon oil. The basket can be touched up with a clear lacquer or varnish applied with a sprayer or a small brush. Minor scratches can be disguised by rubbing with a wax-stick scratch remover, available at home centers and some furniture stores.
Do not strip old paint off of latex finished baskets as it will make the fibers brittle. Stripping should only be attempted by an expert.
The basket can be repainted instead with a latex spray paint. To repaint the basket, first clean it thoroughly. Then brush on a liquid sanding preparation (sold in paint or hardware stores), which will remove grease and oil from the surface and soften the existing finish to enhance bonding with the new. Finish with the spray paint of your choice, following the manufacturers directions.
Some repairs can be made easily. To repair loosened or broken fibers pull the fiber so it is tight, and apply ordinary white or yellow wood glue to the underside of the fiber. Wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth. Reapply varnish or paint, as necessary.
Basket liners and cushions:
Basket liners and cushions should be frequently washed in warm water, or professionally cleaned, and air dried in sunlight to keep them looking great and prevent mildew from occurring.