Teak is a popular outdoor furniture type. It is a gorgeous-looking wood and provides visual appeal not only to the patio but to other areas of the home as well. When it comes to caring for a teak table or other forms of teak outdoor furniture, some people are unsure of how to clean this type of wood furniture. Unfortunately, if it is not properly maintained, discoloration, mildew, or mold can ruin the natural teak.
Aside from normal usage, if the clean teak wood is used around food, any oily food that is spilled can stain your wood furniture.
How Frequently Should Teak Furniture Be Cleaned?
Unless there is a spill, teak furniture – including teak chairs or any other teak product – can be given a yearly clean. When the furniture is first purchased – including patio furniture or garden furniture – decide if you want to maintain the natural honey wood finish or change to a silver-grey patina that accompanies sun exposure.
The grey found on the teak is purely cosmetic. Many homeowners appreciate how easy teak is to care for and protect it to maintain the original color.
Prior to protecting or cleaning the furniture, decide which finish you would prefer. Would you prefer the natural honey color or to have something with more of a patina? Whatever decision you make will determine how the furniture needs to be cared for.
When to Use a Teak Protector
For those who choose to maintain the honey-like color of teak, you will need to purchase a teak protector. The protector will provide this type of wood furniture with a good layer of protection against the sun and prevent the growth of mildew and mold.
The protector provides a barrier between the wood and the surrounding air. It prevents oxidation, which causes the wood grain to turn grey. An additional benefit is that it protects teak from stains from drinks and food. Oily foods like ketchup and certain drinks are common when eating outdoors. Unfortunately, they can easily stain the furniture.
If you tend to serve many meals using this furniture, and stains will bother you, you will need to use a protector.
How to Clean Outdoor Teak Furniture
There are several items that are required when cleaning teak furniture. This is necessary to keep the furniture in good health and prolong its lifespan. Teak that is properly maintained will last significantly longer compared to furniture that is not.
What you’ll need:
- Laundry detergent with bleach
- Teak protectant – we suggest using Star brite Teak Sealer (optional)
- Soft bristle brush
- Teak restorer product (optional)
Directions on How to Clean Teak Furniture
Before cleaning the new furniture, allow it to sit outside for one to two weeks. This will permit it to weather. Avoid putting a protector on new furniture as this will trap moisture and create a cloudy layer on the teak.
Also, ensure that while cleaning it, you use ground protection like a tarp. This is important when you have concrete, porous stone, or deck surfaces that a cleaner can stain. Make sure that prior to protecting the teak, your furniture is cleaned, fully dry, and dust-free.
- Cleaning Teak Furniture – Thoroughly clean it using water and soap. A teak cleaner can be used as well. Allow the furniture to fully dry before proceeding to the next step.
- Apply Your Protector – Using a sponge, cloth, or pressure sprayer, add a thin coat of protector to the furniture. Wait about one hour before applying another thin coat. Avoid using teak oil which will harm your furniture. Teak oil will cause it to go black and become gummy in a humid environment.
- Allow it to Dry – Permit your furniture to dry for four to five hours. After this time has lapsed, you may use your furniture again or store it. This process should be repeated annually to provide the best results and to protect the furniture from damage.
Cleaning Teak with a Patina
If you have teak that has a patina, either use a 2:1 ratio of water and laundry detergent containing bleach, or a manufacturer’s recommended product. Rinse the teak using water to remove residue, dirt, or suds.
If you would like to develop a grey patina, this is the only care the furniture will require, annually.
Removing Patina from Teak
Sometimes people change their minds about adding patina to teak furniture. Fortunately, as mentioned, it is purely cosmetic. If you find you would like to restore your teak furniture to a natural finish, products found at a local home improvement shop will help you. These products generally need a two-step process, which incorporates applying acid and caustic cleaners.
The job is not easy and may be confusing if you are new to the process. Read all instructions prior to attempting it and proceed with caution. If there is significant damage, a standing light may be needed to completely restore the furniture.
Tips for Keeping Teak Cleaner for Longer
Water, oil, and varnish sealers are not recommended or even necessary to protect teak. Natural oils found in the wood seal out any water. Varnishes will chip and flake when applied to the wood. They may need sanding to remove them.
You should consider this attribute before adding something that may require additional maintenance. Since teak tends to be naturally resistant to rot and warping, it is not advisable to allow water to pool around the furniture. This may lead to issues over time, and it can be difficult and expensive to repair.
While you can store teak indoors over the winter months, it isn’t necessary to do so. If you would like to cover it, ensure you use a breathable material and avoid plastic. If you want to store it, avoid placing it in a room that is heated. Heat dries out the teak wood, causing it to splinter or crack.
With changing weather and over time, teak furniture will contract and expand. This is completely natural. When springtime comes, check your furniture’s joints. Tighten anything that is loose.
Cleaning outdoor teak furniture is not a terribly involved process. Just be sure that before you apply a sealer, your furniture is completely dry. Even a hint of wetness can cause damage. By doing these steps annually, your furniture will last for a long time.