How to Clean Teak Furniture

Chairs and table with fruit at a tropical Caribbean beach
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Teak is a very popular type of furniture, especially as on the patio in outdoor living spaces. Teak wood is gorgeous and adds a lot of value to patio and other areas of the home. But many people aren't sure what they need to do to care for this fine wood. Here's how to keep it clean and gorgeous.

Cleaning Teak Wood

  1. Decide on 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 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.
  1. Pre-treat pieces with a teak protector. First, treat your pieces with a teak protector.
  2. Do a general cleaning.To clean teak, use either a manufacturer's suggested product or try a 2/1 ratio of a laundry detergent with bleach and water, applied with a soft bristle brush.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. 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.
  4. 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. Once again, consider sealing if the damage was caused by food or other substances.
  1. Seal your teak wood, if desired. Teak sealant can preserve the honey color of teak furniture. Most teak sealers also contain agents that prevent the growth of mold and mildew. These sealers can also help protect from food stains, so consider them if you will be using your teak furniture around food or as dining furniture.

    Tips for Taking Care of Teak

    1. Oil, varnish, and water sealers aren't recommended or necessary on 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.
    2. Oily foods, ketchup, and some drinks can stain teak furniture, so consider applying a clear coating to teak furniture that will be used around food. This may need to be checked seasonally to see if you need to add another protective coat.
    3. 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.

    Materials to Take Care of Teak

    • Laundry detergent with bleach
    • Soft bristle brush
    • Teak protectant (optional)
    • Teak sealer (optional)
    • Teak restorer products (optional)
    • Teak clear coating (optional)