How to care for Jute, 'The Golden Fibre'
Jute is a fantastic fibre, sustainable, 100% bio-degradable and recyclable.
I love using Jute rope for my baskets, it is stiff enough to keep its shape, but flexible enough to knot, and it has a pleasant smell that reminds me of warm brown paper.
No pesticides or fertilisers necessary for cultivation, which means it is possible to be grown by small family concerns in Bangladesh and India, usually selling through co-operatives. It can be planted quickly in flooded areas, such as the Bengal and Ganges deltas, and harvested in 4 to 6 months.
The coarse outer fibres are used for firewood, the leaves for food and the stems for fibres that are then used to make rope, hessian or burlap cloth and many yet to be discovered uses.
Being a natural plant fibre, Jute is affected by its environment. It will shrink a little when damp or wet conditions (5 to 10%), and will loosen when dry.
It is best kept indoors or in a dry place, it isn't suitable for exterior use. (Poly Hemp would be a better choice for outdoors).
Jute is best kept clean primarily by vacuuming.
It is possible to wipe down with a damp cloth or sponge, and leave to dry naturally out of direct sunshine.
If very soiled, agitate a little detergent in a bowl of warm water, until you create bubbles, then dab the jute with just the lather, and wipe the foam off with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Leave to dry naturally out of the direct sun.
Our mats should be reshaped gently and left to dry flat.
Baskets can be gently reshaped if necessary, by placing a bowl or ball inside, and patting the edges around.
Do not use a washing machine or tumble dryer, and of course no harsh chemicals, like bleach, as these can break down the natural fibres.