Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning and Maintaining Outdoor Teak Furniture


Beautiful, long-lasting, and sturdy – these qualities alone are enough to make teak wood a great choice for outdoor furniture. Of course, it doesn’t stop there; owing to its high level of natural oil content, teak wood can withstand the elements while retaining its appearance and durability for years on end. Having said this, teak outdoor furniture, like any other wood, requires routine cleaning using the right products and methods in order to be kept in tip-top condition. Although you can find a lot of information online on how to clean teak wood furniture, a lot of the time, the methods aren’t very effective. Even worse, you could potentially damage your outdoor teak furniture with improper guidance. 

So, first things first; figure out the end result you wish to achieve with your DIY teak wood cleaning process – do you want to maintain its new, original golden blonde hue? Do you prefer the weathered, grayish colour it’s turned to and hope to maintain it? Or it is so badly stained and in need of heavy duty cleaning to restore and refresh its look? 

Once you’ve made up your mind, all you need is the right information to get the job done yourself. The surprising part is that each method to achieve any of the above results are rather simple and quick, and will save you a ton of money that would otherwise be spent on paying a specialist’s fee. Read on to learn about our top three methods to clean outdoor teak furniture.

How to Clean New Outdoor Teak Furniture

Although there are a lot of commercial teak wood cleaning products in the market, you’ll find readily available products in your home that can get the job done too. The latter option is preferred for mild cleaning needs while the former is great for tackling dirt and grime built-up over a long period of time. Depending on the type of cleaning your teak furniture requires, choose an appropriate cleaning solution and follow the steps below:

    1. First up, lay out a large plastic under the furniture piece you wish to clean. Next, grab a garden hose and douse the furniture thoroughly to wet the entire piece and remove fine debris.

    2. If you want a ready-to-use product formulated specifically for teak wood cleaning, purchase a commercial teak cleaner from a hardware store or online. Follow the directions on the label when using these products. A more economical option, on the other hand, would be a homemade cleaning solution consisting of liquid dish soap and water. To clean teak wood furniture with a DIY cleaner, dip a soft bristled brush (preferably nylon) into the solution and in gentle strokes, scrub the furniture. Be sure not to go against the direction of the grain as it will roughen the wood surface.

    3. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with water to remove any soap residue, and allow the wood to dry fully.

    4. Run your hand over the cleaned timber and check for rough spots; if you find any, don’t panic, this can easily be removed by gently sanding the problem areas with 220 grit sandpaper. Again, avoid doing this in the opposite direction of the wood grain as it will do more damage to an already roughened area.

    5. Although the steps above are enough to clean mildly dirty outdoor teak furniture, you can go one step further to retain its new, golden blonde colour with the help of a sealant.  Apart from providing long-lasting results in maintaining the wood’s original colour, teak sealers also protect it from direct UV light which causes extreme weathering over time. Generally, sealants are applied when the furniture is brand new or after cleaning it, however, the wood must be completely dry in order for the sealant to coat the surface properly. Keep in mind that the cleaning agent and the sealant must complement each other; in other words, it’s advisable to stick to the same brand when purchasing teak cleaners and a sealer. 

How to Clean Weathered Outdoor Teak Furniture 

If you’re a fan of rustic-looking furniture, weather-beaten teak lends a certain charm to that aesthetic. Teak wood furniture used outside is exposed to the elements which cause the colour to change from a golden blonde hue to a silvery grey that many find appealing. In order to clean and maintain this weathered look, follow the steps given below:

    1. Once again, place a tarp under the furniture piece and hose it down with plain water.

    2. For your teak cleaner, the perfect DIY solution is made up of liquid dish soap (two tablespoons) and a gallon of water mixed in a bucket. This is the easiest and cheapest homemade solution to clean weathered teak furniture. Unlike some commercial cleaners, it is gentle enough to keep the gray patina of your aged teak while ensuring a thorough clean.

    3. With a soft nylon bristle brush or rough sponge, dip into the soapy solution and gently scrub the furniture by stroking it in the direction of the grain (to prevent rough spots on the wooden surface). A gentle hand is needed for this as the more pressure you exert while scrubbing, the more its grey colour will wear off and reveal the wood’s original golden blonde. Of course, even if you end up cleaning off some patina, don’t worry about it as the weathered gray colour will return after some time.

    4. Once you’ve removed dirt and stains from the surface, rinse away the soapy residue with a water hose, and allow the wood to dry completely. To help speed things up, use a bunch of towels to soak up some of the water from your teak furniture by dabbing it all around.

    5.  All that scrubbing may inadvertently roughen the surface no matter how careful you are, therefore, sanding lightly with 220 grit sandpaper will take care of those scratchy patches. 

How to Restore Weathered Teak Back to Blonde

One of the reasons why teak is an excellent choice for outdoor furniture is the fact that no matter how dirty or weather-beaten it gets, it can be easily cleaned and restored to its former appearance. Use the steps given below to transform your weathered gray teak furniture to a new-looking blonde shade:

    1. As before, place a tarp under the teak wood furniture you wish to restore and douse thoroughly with plain water, rinsing off loose debris.

    2. A homemade cleaning solution like the one mentioned in the methods above isn’t advisable as you will need to use it repeatedly (with more elbow grease) in order to achieve a desirable result. Given that this is a task of restoring gray, weathered teak to its original blonde colour, the job will require specially formulated solutions. There are many commercial products that can work wonders on weathered teak; we suggest a reliable two-part cleaner to do this. With it, you’ll be able to dissolve dirt easily and strip away any prior finishes or glosses, and remove stains as well.

    3. Start with Part One of the cleaner by generously spraying your teak furniture with it. Using a nylon bristled brush or rough sponge, put some muscle into it and scrub the surface in the direction of the grain. After completing the first step, take Part Two of the cleaner, apply it to the cleaned (damp) surface, and continue scrubbing to remove any leftover stains.

    4. Rinse off the cleaning agents with plain water and allow the furniture to dry completely.

    5. Unfortunately, vigorous scrubbing generally leaves teak wooden furniture with some rough patches, however, you can smooth the surface the same way you would in the methods above – with 220 grit sandpaper.

Remember, shabby or discoloured outdoor teak furniture is not a lost cause! All it takes to clean and maintain teak wood is a little TLC using the simple cleaning methods above. So, the next time you’re cleaning the front porch or patio, check to see if your outdoor teak furniture needs a cleaning too!

Karen Saunders


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