Teak is a very popular type of furniture, especially as on the patio in outdoor living spaces. The wood is gorgeous and adds a lot of visual appeal to patio and other areas of the home. Some people do nothing or aren't sure what they need to do to care for this fine wood. However, if left uncleaned, mildew or discoloration can occur.
Beyond normal wear and tear, if your furniture (including the fabric cushions) will be used around food (likely for outdoor patios), spilled oily foods can stain untreated teak furniture.
How Often to Clean Teak Furniture
Unless something spills on it, you can give your teak furniture a yearly cleaning. When you first purchase your teak furniture, decide if you want it to maintain its original honey wood colored finish or whether you want a natural soft silver-gray patina that comes from exposure to the sun. The gray is only cosmetic and many people like how easy it is to care for teak furniture that's been allowed to develop a patina. Others prefer to continually seal and protect their teak furniture to maintain the original honey color.
How to Clean Teak Furniture With a Teak Protector
Before you clean or protect your teak furniture, figure out if you want to maintain the original finish or patina. Do you want your teak furniture to stay its original honey wood color or do you want the natural soft silver-gray patina that comes from exposure to the sun? The decision you make will impact how you care for the furniture.
Using a Teak Protector
If you want the teak to maintain the honey color, you'll need to use a teak protector. It will give the wood a layer of UV protection and prevents mildew growth. The teak protector creates a barrier between the wood and the air, preventing oxidation, which causes the wood to turn grey. These types of protectors will also protect the teak from oil stains from food and drinks. Oily foods, ketchup, and some drinks are all common items that can stain teak furniture. If you plan to serve a lot of meals on this furniture and the stains will bother you, consider using a protector.
Equipment / Tools
- Soft bristle brush
- Laundry detergent with bleach
- Teak protectant (optional)
- Teak restorer products (optional)
Give It Time
If the furniture is new, let it stay outside to weather for one to two weeks. Don't use a protector on brand new furniture.
Clean the Furniture
Thoroughly clean the furniture with soap and water or a teak cleaner. Allow it to completely dry.
Apply the Protector
Apply a thin coat of protector with a cloth, sponge, or pressure sprayer. Wait an hour and apply a second thin coat.
Let It Dry
Wait four to five hours and then use your furniture. You may want to repeat the process once a year.
How to Clean Teak Wood With a Patina
To clean teak, use either a manufacturer's suggested product or try a 2:1 ratio of laundry detergent with bleach and water, applied with a soft bristle brush. Rinse your teak pieces with water to remove any dirt residue or leftover suds. If you want your teak to develop a gray patina, this is all the care your furniture will likely need.
Removing Patina From Teak Furniture
If you have a weathered piece of teak that you'd like to restore to its original finish, there are products at your local home improvement store that can help. Usually, these products require at least a two-step process involving the application of caustic cleaners and acid. This is a tough job and can be confusing if you've never done it or seen it done. Read all manufacturer's instructions and use caution. If the damage is significant, often a light sanding may be required to fully restore the piece.
Tips to Keep Your Teak Furniture Clean Longer
Oil, varnish, and water sealers aren't recommended or necessary for teak wood furniture. The natural oils in the wood seal out water. Varnish chips and flakes on the wood require sanding to remove. Consider this before you add something that requires sanding yearly or more often. Although teak is naturally resistant to water warping and rot, it's not a great idea to let water pool around your furniture. Over time this can cause issues that are difficult and expensive to repair or reverse.
Storing Teak Furniture
It is not necessary to store your teak furniture indoors over the winter. If you do want to cover it, make sure to use a material that breathes and avoid plastic covers. If you choose to put it away for the winter, do not store the teak furniture in a heated room. The heat can dry out the wood and cause it to crack or splinter. With time and changing weather conditions, it's natural for the teak furniture to expand and contract. Each spring, check the joints of the furniture and tighten anything loose.