How to Clean Outdoor Teak Furniture

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO CLEANING TEAK WOOD

When it comes to caring for teak there’s a lot of information out there. You’ll find plenty online about how to clean teak but be warned, not all of it is accurate and many of the suggested methods could damage your furniture.

As teak specialists, we have many years of experience with caring for teak and can recommend what is most effective and safe for your teak furniture. We’ve put together our recommendations for everything from basic cleaning to more intense treatments, as well as do’s and don’ts that you’ll need to know when considering teak care.

Before getting started, you’ll want to think about what you want from your teak. Is your furniture newer and still the golden blonde color that you want to keep? Or is your goal to give your weathered gray teak a refresh? Maybe you are going for a full restoration to take weathered teak back to a blonde color? Once you know your answer, find our recommended cleaning instructions below.

BASIC CLEANING FOR NEWER TEAK FURNITURE

Using products you likely have at home, follow these easy steps to surface clean newer outdoor teak furniture.
  • Step 1. Prep the area for cleaning by either moving your furniture to the grass or laying down a tarp. Then, wet your furniture with a garden hose.
  • Step 2. In a large bucket combine two TBSP of a mild cleanser such as liquid dish soap or Simple Green with plenty of water.
  • Step 3. Apply the solution to your teak furniture with a soft nylon brush gently scrubbing with the direction of the grain to avoid scraping up the surface of the wood.
  • Step 4. Once your teak is clean, hose it down once more and allow to dry.
  • (Optional) Step 5. If your teak feels rough to the touch after cleaning, you can do a light sanding with 250 grit paper to remove any rough fibers or wood particulate. Be sure to sand with the grain to avoid "scratching" the teak.
  • (Optional) Step 6. To help keep the golden blonde appearance of your new teak, use a sealer to lock in the original color and add UV inhibitors to prevent weathering. Sealer should be applied on new or recently cleaned teak that is dry to the touch. We recommend our Golden Sealer, but any sealer should be applied on an annual basis, or as needed depending on your climate and placement of furniture.

CLEANING FOR WEATHERED TEAK

Once your teak has weathered to a silvery gray, following these steps to remove dirt and some stains.
  • Step 1. Prep the area for cleaning by either moving your furniture to the grass or laying down a tarp. Then, wet your furniture with a garden hose.
  • Step 2. In a large bucket combine two TBSP of a mild cleanser such as liquid dish soap or Simple Green with plenty of water. For a more intense cleaning to get out older stains, add bleach to the mixture.
  • Step 3. Apply the solution to your teak furniture with a soft nylon brush or coarse sponge, gently scrubbing with the direction of the grain to avoid scraping up the surface of the wood. To remove some of the silvery gray color apply more pressure with a course sponge.
  • Step 4. Once your teak is clean, hose it down once more and allow to dry.
  • (Optional) Step 5. If your teak feels rough to the touch after cleaning, you can do a light sanding with 250 grit paper to remove any rough fibers or wood particulate. Be sure to sand with the grain to avoid "scratching" the teak.

INTENSE CLEANING TO RESTORE WEATHERED TEAK TO BLONDE

The beauty of teak is that it can be cleaned at any time, no matter the stage of weathering, and returned to a light blonde color by following the steps below.
  • Step 1. Prep the area for cleaning by either moving your furniture to the grass or laying down a tarp. Then, wet your furniture with a garden hose.
  • Step 2. In a large bucket combine a splash of bleach and liquid soap or part one of our Two Part Cleaner.
  • Step 3. Apply the solution to your teak furniture with a coarse sponge or nylon brush. Scrub vigorously in the direction of the grain to remove dirt, stains, mold or mildew and prior finishes.
  • Step 4. Once your teak is clean, hose it down once more and allow to dry. If you are using our Two Part Cleaner, apply part two while furniture is still wet, then rinse thoroughly.
  • (Optional) Step 5. If your teak feels rough to the touch after cleaning, you can do a light sanding with 250 grit paper to remove any rough fibers or wood particulate. Be sure to sand with the grain to avoid "scratching" the teak.

DO'S & DON'TS FOR TEAK CLEANING

Here are some tips for things to do, and avoid, while cleaning your outdoor teak furniture.
  • DO clean your teak with gloves and eye protection, especially when doing an intense cleaning with bleach or Two Part Cleaner.
  • DO use ground protection, such as a tarp, if you are cleaning or finishing teak on porous stone, concrete, or deck surfaces, as cleaning products can cause staining.
  • DO test any cleaning products you are using on a small area on the underside of your furniture to see how it interacts with the teak and its color.
  • DO think about applying sealants and protectants to your furniture after cleaning to preserve the color and prevent stains/mold.
  • DO wipe up any spills on teak furniture right away, so they don't set into the wood and cause stains.
  • DO occasionally wipe or hose down furniture between cleaning to keep dirt and debris to a minimum.
  • DO use coasters for drinks to avoid water rings on your teak.
  • DON'T use teak oil on your outdoor furniture. Teak oil is linseed oil mixed with other ingredients, primarily solvents – it is not oil from teak trees. It is often touted as a necessary treatment for teak furniture, but it can actually cause more harm than good, leaving a sticky surface that will collect dirt and debris which causes mold and mildew to grow. Furniture treated with teak oil often turns black and can even feel gummy to the touch over time, especially in warm, humid climates. We recommend using water-based sealers which allow teak to breathe.
  • DON'T use cleaners, sealers or protectants that are harmful to plants, lawn, or animals (all of Country Casual Teak’s products are eco-friendly.)
  • DON'T sand against the grain as this will "scratch" the teak.
  • DON'T pressure wash your teak furniture as this will cause damage to the wood.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Here are some other topics you might want to think about.
  • Indoor vs Outdoor
  • Teak furniture that does not have any finishes or sealers applied will weather naturally outdoors, giving the wood a beautiful silvery patina. If teak furniture is placed indoors and not exposed directly to UV rays, it will not weather. The color of the teak will then naturally oxidize and turn a rich, golden color. For indoor use, your teak furniture should not require maintenance beyond an occasional wipe down with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt. For additional protection, you can apply a stain protector to your indoor teak furniture.
  • Paint
  • If you are considering painting your teak furniture, it is important to understand that teak is an oily wood by nature and putting paint on the wood will trap the oils underneath. Doing this may cause issues with the paint over time, such as the paint flaking off or the oil “bubbling up” under the surface. The oils of teak are what keep it looking beautiful for generations, and painting teak covers up the beauty of teak itself.
  • Climate/Environment
  • Teak can be kept in any environment, due to its oily wood and weather-resistant properties. However, every environment has its own unique properties that must be taken into consideration when you are looking to add teak furniture to it.
  • For windy environments, we recommend always anchoring your furniture when possible, or storing it in a covered structure when not in use.
  • For moist or shady environments, we recommend a protectant or shield to avoid mold or mildew on your furniture.
  • For dry, arid climates, we recommend occasionally wetting your teak with water, to help return some moisture. Teak will never completely dry out in desert environments, since it has so many natural oils, but you can reduce the appearance of end-grain checking with an occasional application of water. (End-grain checking is normal and does not affect the structural integrity of the furniture.)
  • Pests
  • Occasionally, we get reports of pests such as wasps or squirrels biting or eating outdoor teak furniture. While this is uncommon, we can offer a few tips to help deter them.
  • For Wasps
  • To discourage wasps you can use a visual deterrent such as a Waspinator, for an eco-friendly, easy way to deter them. Wasps are territorial, so they should not invade the space of another nest. If a visual deterrent does not work, or you choose to use a penetrating treatment, test it on a small portion of your teak before applying it to the entire piece to avoid any unforeseen issues. Wasps and bees are also repelled by eucalyptus oil, menthol, citronella, and lemongrass, so looking for a DEET and chemical-free insect repellent at an organic foods store may be a good place to start. Mix this repellent with equal parts water and apply sparingly to your furniture. Again, test this mixture in a small spot before applying to the whole piece.
  • For Squirrels
  • To deter squirrels, we recommend removing any sources of water or incidental food such as bird feeders or pet dishes. You can then shake cayenne pepper on and around your furniture or find a taste repellent containing Capsaicin at a garden or hardware store.