How to Clean a Hamper

Sometimes hampers get musty, or stained or filled with fluff and dirt. Here are some suggestions for cleaning them. This article only deals with hampers made out of naturally-based materials like bamboo, reeds, wickerwork etc. Plastic should be cleaned according to plastic cleaning instructions.


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    Remove all the contents from the hamper. If it is a picnic hamper, take this opportunity to re-wash everything inside it for the sake of sprucing it up.
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    Take the hamper outdoors. Give it a good shake (tip upside down) if this can be done without harming it in any way (be careful of lid joints).
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    Remove any fluff by hand or with a small nozzle attached to a vacuum cleaner. Make sure the cleaner is turned onto a low power level - you don't want to pull the woven pieces out of their shape.
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    If there are stains on the hamper, you need to try to decipher what they are. Some may just wipe off; others may be permanent and you will only be able to lighten them a little. Picnic hampers are likely to have food stains, which really ought to be cleaned off immediately.
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    You can treat the stains by rubbing with a bit of water and bicarbonate of soda. This is a gentle abrasive that you should use with a soft sponge only (no steel wool or plastic scratchy pads!). Don't rub too hard or for too long. If the stain does not appear to want to lift, leave it and learn to live with it. The bicarbonate mix will have removed any odours and will help to have lightened the stain a little anyway. Wash the bicarbonate mixture off with salt water.
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    You could also use lemon juice to lighten a stain if needed.
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    Let the hamper dry in the outdoors after removing a stain with water.
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    To spruce up the whole hamper, wipe over the entire hamper, inside and out, with a soft cleaning cloth that has been dampened with water. You can use salt water on wicker. Again, allow the whole hamper to dry in the outdoors.
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    Mend any broken parts of your hamper. Re-tie any lid ties that have come loose and bend in any wicker that has escaped from the pattern. If it is a big hole, seek professional assistance if the hamper is sentimental (picnic hampers are often quite expensive and given as special gifts such as for weddings).
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    In between cleans, you can keep your hamper smelling fresh and odour-free by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda on the base and around the edges of the hamper. If it is a clothes hamper, you can also toss bicarbonate on each layer of clothes to remove odours - the bicarbonate will assist in the washing process to ensure a very good, soft clean and is not harmful. This is especially useful during hot weather or in over-heated rooms to kill smelly sock odour!


  • You can use leather used for necklaces from craft stores to mend loose lids on hampers. This is more pliable and long-lasting than using plant-based materials.
  • Try to clean off food stains when they happen. Use water at a picnic, then clean with bicarbonate of soda & water mix when you get home.
  • Don't throw away sample bars or complimentary hotel soaps. Put the small bar, wrapper and all, in your hampers. The slightly higher quality boxed soaps work well since they are big enough to settle at the bottom.
  • Hide a fabric softener sheet in the bottom of the hamper to help with dirty odors. Let is sit for 24 hours and remove it. You may accidentally wash it if you leave it.


  • Try not to let puppies, dogs, kittens and cats chew your hampers. Their strong little teeth will do lasting and maybe irreparable damage.
  • Try not to place hampers in damp storage places. The mould will grow happily on the natural medium of a hamper and is next to impossible to remove.
  • Don't leave a hamper to dry in direct sunlight - it may cause the wicker/bamboo etc to tighten, warp and/or weaken. It is okay for the weather to be warm to hot, just as long as the hamper is in the shade.
  • Before storage, also ensure all food stains have been removed or mice/rats may chew on it and mould will be attracted to growing on it.
  • If your hamper is varnished, be extra careful and try not to scrub unless you really need to; as this will lift the varnish in an obvious manner.

Things You'll Need

  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Water
  • Salt (to make salt water mix - add one tablespoon salt to approximately 1 liter of water)

Article Info

Categories: Laundry