How to Clean Teak Furniture Properly

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How to Clean Teak Furniture Properly

Few wood types compare to teak in terms of strength, weather resistance, and durability. Premium teakwood is also easy to maintain and requires no additional finishes. As a result, this gorgeous hardwood species makes an excellent material choice for outdoor patio furniture. 

Because teakwood is sturdy and naturally hydrophobic, it can be left outdoors year-round. However, you will want to clean any teak furniture pieces regularly to preserve their original golden-brown luster.

When left to age, teakwood loses its honey tone and turns into a silver-gray patina. Moreover, wooden outdoor furniture can easily fall prey to mold and mildew, which causes further discoloration. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to letting your teak furniture change shades. With a simple routine and a little elbow grease, you can keep your teak furniture in top condition (and color) for years to come.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to clean teak furniture. But first, let’s dive into why teakwood changes color over time.

Why Does Teak Wood Change Color?

Why does teak change color

Unlike other wood species, teak retains its natural oils and rubber even after being processed. This helps it withstand hard rains, severe snowstorms, and even scorching summer temperatures.

As the teak is subjected to UV rays, wind, and other elements, it oxidizes and loses its oils. This causes the wood to change colors from golden brown to silver-gray. 

Remember: this is a purely cosmetic transformation and does not affect the wood’s structural integrity.

Other factors that contribute to teak weathering include:

  • Humidity
  • Dampness
  • Change in lighting

Teak can take anywhere between a few weeks and several months to weather, depending on where you live. For example, teak furniture usually fades more slowly in drier climates with occasional rainy spells. Frequent exposure to moisture can speed up the weathering process.

How to Clean Teak Furniture: Best Practices

How to clean teak wood furniture

The good news is that it’s fairly simple to clean teak outdoor furniture. In most cases, you will only need a mild soap and water solution to wash teak materials. Of course, you can also use a teak cleaning product.

Let’s take a look at the steps for efficiently and thoroughly cleaning teak furniture… 

  1. Remove your patio furniture from direct sunlight to prevent the cleaning agents from drying too quickly.
  1. Use a soft bristle brush to apply the soapy water to the wooden surface and scrub gently.
  1. Once finished, hose down the furniture to remove leftover suds and residue.

Try to make a habit of cleaning your teak furniture every year – perhaps after heavy use in the summer before fall arrives, or in the spring before the weather fully warms up. 

You should also wipe or rinse off your teak furniture once in a while to get rid of dirt and debris. This can save you the hassle of an intense cleaning session later down the line.

A few other tips on how to clean teak furniture:

  • Always wear gloves and eye protection when using teak protectors and sealants.
  • Test the cleaning products on the underside of your furniture to see how it reacts with the wood.
  • Clean up spills before they set into the wood.
  • Always use coasters to prevent water stains on your teak table.
  • Never sand against the grain.

Teak maintenance tactics can vary based on your preferred aesthetics. For example, fans of the golden-brown hue can use specific products to retain the wood’s natural color. On the other hand, if you enjoy the weathered, silver-gray look, you’ll simply have to clean your teak pieces to remove contaminants occasionally.

How to Maintain Natural Teak

Teak wood furniture stand on the terrace

You can easily identify natural teak with its unmistakable golden-brown tone. To help your teak furniture retain its original appearance, you’ll need to protect it from UV rays. 

Place teak furniture pieces away from direct sunlight whenever possible. Once the weathering begins, you can use fine-grit sandpaper to remove the outer layer. Still, it’s best to prevent quick color changes by picking the right location for your furniture.

You can also invest in a teak protector to provide an added level of UV protection. Teak protectors create a barrier between the wood and air, minimizing oxidation. Be sure to dry the teak before applying a thin coat of the protector to it. Don’t forget to retouch the protective film a couple of times every year.

How to Maintain Weathered Teak

How to maintain weathered teak

Many homeowners let their teak furniture weather naturally. Not only does this minimize your maintenance tasks, but you may also find that weathered teak adds a timeless appeal to your space. No one says your teak wood has to stay golden brown – it’s up to your personal preference.

If you decide to preserve the silver-grayish patina, you can use a manufacturer-suggested product or a 2:1 mixture of laundry detergent, water, and bleach to clean your furniture. Make sure you rinse the surface and let it dry completely.
Be careful about using bleach on any garden teak furniture or materials. Since bleach kills plants instantly, keep it away from bushes and shrubs around your yard. You should also wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself whenever cleaning with bleach.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Teak Furniture

The water-repelling natural oils in dense teakwood also protect it from mold attacks. However, the mold can latch onto the dirt, pollen, and debris on the wood’s surface. If not removed soon, it will begin to eat away at the teak.

Mold growth isn’t just unsightly – it’s bad for your health. Don’t ignore the signs of mold or mildew infestations, even if they seem to be minor. 

You can use several household products to remove mold from teak furniture. Substances like bleach and vinegar can kill surface mold in no time. If you would rather leave the cleaning to the experts, reach out to a professional teak maintenance company for help. We’ll ensure the infestation is eradicated for good.

Teak Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid pressure washing teak furniture

Using Steel Wool

You may be tempted to use steel wool to scrub stubborn stains. However, these abrasive materials can scratch the wood’s delicate finish, leaving it more tarnished than it was before. Furthermore, small flecks of metal can lodge into the wood and rust over time, discoloring the furniture. 

Instead, we recommend using mild sandpaper to gently sand away the stained layer. This is much less abrasive but still highly effective.

Pressure Washing Your Teak Furniture

Pressure washing teak furniture is a big no-no. The fine stream of high pressure can compromise the surface of your furniture, causing it to become bumpy and pitted. The only way to fix this is to sand the surface and restore the teakwood’s smooth finish.

Using Teak Oil on Outdoor Furniture

You should never use teak oil on patio or garden furniture. Oiling outdoor teak furniture can lead to mildew infestations and compromise the wood’s integrity. Besides, teak oil doesn’t do much in slowing down the weathering process.

Teak sealants serve as a smart alternative to teak oil. These do not affect the wood’s natural oils or water-repulsion properties. Additionally, they can enhance the natural color of the teak wood, improving the overall appearance of your outdoor furniture.

How Often Should You Clean Teak Furniture

How often clean teak furniture

This depends largely on your preferences and environment. If you want to retain the teakwood’s showroom luster, you’ll have to clean, seal, and protect it every few months. If that sounds like too much work, you can always hire a professional teak maintenance company to take on the job.

Furniture owners who are happy with the weathered-teak look can get away with little to no maintenance. However, you may still want to wash your furniture once in a while to prevent mold and mildew formation.

How to Store Teak Furniture for the Winter

How to store teak furniture for the winter

The great thing about teak is that you can leave it outside in any weather. Still, even though it’s not necessary to cover the furniture, you may want to do so in an effort to keep the pieces clean and free of contaminants. Furniture covers ward off dirt and bird droppings, which can make spring cleaning less of a hassle.

When choosing furniture covers, always look for breathable, waterproof materials. Avoid plastic options, which can trap moisture and contribute to mold growth during the off-season.

If you decide to bring your patio furniture inside for the winter, keep it away from heated rooms. The heat can extract moisture from the wood, causing it to crack.

The Bottom Line

With a little maintenance and cleaning, you’ll be able to keep your teak furniture looking brand-new for years. Teak will naturally fade and weather no matter what, but a little knowledge and effort can go a long way toward preserving your furniture’s natural appearance. 

If you’re still a little confused about how to clean teak furniture, give Teak & Deck Professionals a call. We can help you treat your teak materials so that they last a lifetime.

Just sit back and relax while we take over your teak cleaning duties. Call us today to learn more about how to clean teak furniture or request a quote.

First published on: Apr 23, 2021

Updated on: Apr 5, 2023

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.