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How to Clean Outdoor Teak Furniture (The Right Way)

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weathered outdoor teak furniture

Teak furniture is a good investment to make your outdoor patio area beautiful and functional. Keeping it clean without damaging the teak wood should be a priority. While you may see or read that you can pressure wash teak, this is a big no-no and can ruin your teak furniture.

I’ve worked with many different types of wood in my 20 year woodworking, DIY turned professional carpenter career. The best outdoor furniture is made out of tropical hardwoods like teak.

Teak is a unique wood with beautiful honey brown color and great strength. It’s been used by boat builders for many years for it’s ability to survive the ocean’s harsh environments.

While other woods can twist and warp after exposure to UV rays, teak does not. Teak has its own oils to keep its wood fibers hydrated, so it doesn’t crack like other types of wood.

I’ll show you the best way to clean your teak furniture to look like new. No matter if your teak furniture is brand new or if it’s stained and weathered to gray.

How to Clean New Teak Furniture

  1. Brush off any loose dirt
  2. Water down your furniture with garden hose
  3. Gently scrub remaining dirt off your teak furniture with mild soap and water mixture. Use a stiff brush but don’t use metal bristles as it will scratch the teak.
  4. If black spots have formed, try first a vinegar and water in a 1 to 4 ratio first. Allow mixture to soak on the teak for a minimum 15 minutes then scrub in and rinse off.
  5. If that doesn’t work, try a bleach solution of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water may be necessary. Leave bleach solution on teak for 5 minutes. Gentry scrub in and rinse off
  6. Allow furniture to completely dry in full sun.
  7. Apply teak sealer to protect furniture

Routine Cleaning for Teak Furniture

If your teak furniture is exposed to the weather, a routine cleaning will mild soap and water will help prevent mold and mildew from growing on your teak. Mold and mildew grows mostly in wet shady areas.

If your furniture gets wet but not enough sun to completely dry out, it will grow mildew fairly quickly. In those cases, regular cleaning with a vinegar or bleach solution as described below will control the mold and mildew growth.

How to Remove Stains from Teak Furniture

If you have outdoor teak furniture, chances are you’ve dealt with ugly stains at some point.

While the wood is naturally durable and weather-resistant, it can still get stained from spills or rust from metal hardware.

Luckily, removing these stains doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Start by wiping down the furniture with a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt or debris.

For oil-based stains, such as cooking grease or suntan lotion, use a mild soap mixed with warm water and lightly scrub the affected areas in circular motions.

To remove tougher stains like rust or tree sap, use a stronger cleaner or sandpaper to buff away the stain gently.

Finally, let the furniture dry before applying a teak protector for added protection against future staining.

With these tips, your outdoor teak furniture will be good as new in no time!

How to Get Rid of Mold and Mildew on Outdoor Teak Furniture

When it comes to outdoor teak furniture, mold and mildew can easily become an issue in damp or humid environments. You may start seeing black spots on your furniture.

While regular cleaning with soap and water can remove surface dirt and debris, it may not be enough to remove stubborn mold and mildew stains.

One solution is to mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it directly to the affected areas.

Let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it with a brush or rag. For more heavy-duty cleaning, you can try mixing one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.

As always, make sure to wear protective gear such as gloves and a mask when handling chemicals.

Another way to prevent mold and mildew growth is by keeping your teak furniture well-sealed with a high-quality sealant product specifically made for outdoor furniture.

Taking these steps will help keep your outdoor teak furniture clean and free from mold or mildew stains.

How do you rejuvenate weathered teak outdoor furniture?

If your teak has turned gray and you want to restore it back to it’s original honey color, we’ll cover the steps needed to restore your teak furniture.

Teak turns gray when exposed to UV rays such as sitting outside in full sun as do other types of woods. Teak is unique because it doesn’t split, crack or warp as much as other woods when exposed to full sun UV rays.

While many people like the gray color that teak turns when left exposed to the sun, some people like the honey brown color better. If you’re one of those people, you will have more maintenance work to keep your teak’s original color in tact.

There is two ways to remove the gray from your teak furniture. Using a teak brightener or sanding it off. In most cases, it might be a combination of both.

How To Use a Teak Brightener

A teak brightener should be used after cleaning and following the directions on the bottle. Most need to be scrubbed with the grain into the piece of furniture. Allow it to set in then rinse off before drying.

The most important part of using any teak or wood brightener is to ALWAYS keep the wood wet when using the brightener.

There are many different types of wood brightener products, but I only would only use ones made by companies such as Star-brite. Their teak products are made for boats that live in very harsh conditions.

How To Sand Teak Furniture

Sanding your teak will take the thin layer of gray off and reveal the beautiful honey brown underneath. Hand sanding, though laborious, is the best method to remove the gray layer.

Sanding by hand will be easier if you have lots of small wood pieces. A palm or disc sander won’t be able to get in between chair spokes or slits in a table.

Use an 80 grit sandpaper always sanding in the direction of the wood grain. This will quickly remove the gray color layer.

You can use the small foam blocks or simply fold up a large piece of sand paper to fit in between small grooves. You’ll want to go over everything again with a 120-150 grit for a smoother surface that is ready for sealing.

How to Use Teak Sealer on Your Furniture

While each type of teak sealer may have different application instructions most are very similar and easy to apply. Once your teak is clean, here is how you apply for your teak protection.

  • Make sure your sealer is thoroughly stirred, especially if it has a color tint
  • Apply using a clean cloth, spung or natural bristle brush.
  • Always wipe on in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Wait 5 minutes for the oil to penetrate the wood, then wipe off any excess standing oil.
  • Repeat with second coat if necessary, if your teak is really dry.

Here’s four of the best teak sealers on the market that will help keep your teak looking brand new.

How Often Should You Clean Your Teak Wood?

Cleaning frequency will depend on the location and usage of the furniture.

If your teak furniture is in a covered area with minimal exposure to dirt and debris, it may only need to be cleaned once or twice a year.

However, if the furniture is constantly exposed to elements such as rain or wind, you’re looking at cleaning it every three months or so.

It’s also important to remember that heavily used teak furniture may require more frequent cleanings to remove built-up grime or dirt.

When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your teak furniture a good cleaning every few months to ensure its longevity and maintain its beauty.

Outdoor Teak Wood Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

One of the perks of owning outdoor furniture made from teak wood is its low maintenance needs. However, even with this durable material there are still cleaning mistakes to avoid.

First, resist the urge to power wash your teak furniture. While it may seem like a quick fix, high pressure can damage the wood’s surface and strip away its natural oils.

Instead, stick to gentle scrubbing with a soft brush and mild soap. Teak wood may be weather-resistant, but don’t leave it uncleaned for extended periods of time as dirt buildup can still cause damage.

Additionally, be sure to dry off excess moisture after each cleaning and apply a teak protector or sealant at least once a year.

Is it OK to pressure wash teak furniture?

While some people might take the easy route and pressure wash their teak furniture, it will cause more damage in the long run.

We don’t recommend pressure washing teak because people use too much PSI which damage the wood fibers of the teak.

Once the fibers are damaged, they are more prone to breaking, splitting and cracking when exposed to the sun and rain. The high pressure also removes a lot of its natural oils that protect the teak.

While pressure washing your teak furniture may have an instant gratification clean effect, it will cut short its projected lifespan.

Conclusion

We’ve given you a lot of information on the dos and don’ts for cleaning your teak furniture. A regular wipe down and cleaning will help keep your teak furniture looking it’s best and last a long time.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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