Baskets are truly wonderful home and lifestyle products, by far the most practical, versatile and in many ways enduring. The traditions of basketry go back thousands of years and basket weaving is one of the widest spread crafts in the history of any human civilization. Here are a few tips to looking after your baskets to ensure that you enjoy your collection for many years.
Firstly it is important to remember that baskets are designed to be used: their very nature is that of purpose and practicality, paired with quality design, the very best materials and skilled craftsmanship our baskets will last a very long time. You can prolong your baskets life by following these simple steps to ensure longevity.
Avoid direct sunlight and store away from heat sources: Keeping your baskets away from any source of direct heat such as wood stoves, fireplaces, radiators, and/or leaving them in direct sunlight will ensure that the willow doesn't dry out and loose it rigidity. Intense (direct) heat and ultraviolet rays from the sun may cause fading and bleaching in addition to drying the fibers out prematurely, which can make them brittle. Some direct heat is of course inevitable (log baskets and picnic baskets for example are unavoidably exposed) the trick is to not over do it and to monitor the state of your baskets.
Maintaining a healthy moisture content (not to be confused with dampness): A simple way to combat a known heat source such as a log fire (which is usually right next to your log basket) is to schedule a monthly bath day for your baskets or mist them every so often to maintain a healthy moisture level. Bathing or hosing down baskets is really very simply. Give them a good soaking with cool or cold water, avoid using any soaps, if there is some built up dirt use a coarse scrubbing brush. Do be careful to observe the pressure of scrubbing as this may strip any bark (the coloured skin) if you scrub too hard. Soaking a basket in water or giving it a thorough “shower” can result in swelling of the fibers so this should be a fairly quick process in and out of the water. Once washed down leave outside, ideally in a windy spot but not in direct sunlight and allow to air dry. You will know when your basket has absorbed a healthy amount of water as it will give off a very pleasant olive wood smell. Never leave you basket standing in water or the bath.
Keep baskets away from grease: Try not to keep baskets above your cooking area as fat is in the air there and will cling to the baskets. This is not impossible to remove but a little more effort is involved than simply hosing them down. If you do end up with fat or grease on your basket (for example if you have picnics and/ or children this is very likely and is not the end of the world!), simply sponge clean regularly with a natural soap. We would recommend an olive oil based soap like Savon de Marseille. Follow the instructions above for cleaning.
We recommend maintain the intended use for your baskets: Whilst of course it's not the end of the world if you suddenly change the use of your basket, all our baskets are designed with particular uses in mind. More problematic however might be suddenly making all your blankets smell like onions if you started using your vegetable basket for storing linen and blankets in. This is of course your choice and if a basket has taken on a scent of its previous use then follow the instructions above to bath them clean. In this case we would recommend using a very lightly scented Savon de Marseille.
Good practice basket care: We do not want you to worry about your baskets, they are well made and designed to be used but following some basic good practice guidelines will ensure longevity. It’s best to handle your baskets with clean hands; free of lotion, oil or grease of any kind. Fatty oils and high humidity can cause slight damage by causing stains, mold, and mildew. Avoiding this will save you from unnecessarily having to clean your baskets.
If a basket is fully loaded, particularly with something like a vegetable harvest which can be very heavy, always pick up baskets by supporting the bottom as well, unless of course it is a log basket or heavy duty model (this is specified in the product descriptions).
Cleaning your baskets: A feather duster or a clean, dry natural bristle paintbrush is the best way to remove dust from a basket when doing your general cleaning rounds. Alternatively you can use the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove any build up of dust. For deep cleaning, follow the instructions above on how to bath your baskets.
Giving your basket some TLC: All baskets will eventually show signs of use, that's their life story and their unique patina and is all part of what makes baskets so wonderful to live with. It is nice however from time to time to give them a little face lift as you would furniture and walls. Follow the instructions above to clean and air dry, leave a day of two to ensure that its properly dry and then using a natural cotton rag (old cotton nappies are fabulous for this) rub on some oil lightly following the direction of the willow. Pay attention to the direction of the growth: you will notice small buds on the willow stems (these would have become leaves and new shoots if it were still growing) these once dried can be a little sharp so rub in the direction of the growth not against it to avoid splinters. You can use a simple mineral oil (the same as you would for your wooden plates and bowls) but equally a little good quality olive oil does the trick. Avoid vegetable oils as they can go rancid and sticky over time.