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A Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning Teak Outdoor and Patio Furniture

Castlery   |   Mar 13, 2023

Teak outdoor furniture is a popular choice for many homeowners due to its durability, strength, and beauty.

However, like any outdoor furniture, it is exposed to the elements and can accumulate dirt, grime, and even mold. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep your outdoor furniture looking its best and prolong its lifespan.

In this article, we will provide you with the best practices and a step-by-step guide to cleaning teak outdoor furniture.

Best practices when cleaning teak furniture

Clean your teak furniture regularly

Regular cleaning is the key to keeping your teak furniture looking its best. Dust and debris can accumulate on the furniture over time, leading to discolouration and staining. Try to clean your furniture at least every few months, or more frequently if you live in a humid or dusty environment.

Food and drinks placed atop a teak dining table set with a bench and 4 chairs. The Rio Teak Dining Table with a Bench and 4 Chairs over at @oakandorange makes for the perfect outdoor lounging experience for your patio. Picture credit: @dekorhaus_ and @villastyling.

Use a soft-bristled brush

When cleaning your teak furniture, it's important to use a soft-bristled brush or a soft cloth. Avoid using steel wool or abrasive cleaning pads, as they can scratch the wood and damage its surface. A soft brush or cloth will effectively remove dirt and stains without causing any damage.

Avoid using harsh chemicals

Harsh chemicals can strip away the natural oils and colour of teak wood, causing it to become brittle and prone to cracking. Avoid using bleach or ammonia on your teak furniture. Instead, opt for a mild detergent or a natural cleaning solution such as vinegar or baking soda.

Don't pressure wash your teak furniture

Pressure washing can damage the wood and strip away its natural oils. Instead, use a water hose or a bucket of water to rinse away any dirt or debris. If you need to remove stubborn stains or mildew, use a mild cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush.

A step-by-step guide to cleaning teak outdoor furniture

Step 1: Clear the furniture

Remove any cushions or covers from your furniture and place them aside. Then, clear the furniture of any debris or dirt using a soft-bristled brush or a cloth.

Step 2: Mix the cleaning solution

In a bucket, mix warm water with a mild detergent, or use a natural cleaning solution, such as vinegar or baking soda. If you're using a natural solution, mix one part solution to three parts water.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach as they can damage the wood.

Step 3: Gently scrub the furniture

Dip a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth into the cleaning solution and scrub the furniture, paying extra attention to any areas with visible dirt or stains. Be gentle but thorough, and avoid scrubbing too hard as this can damage the wood.

Step 4: Rinse the furniture

Using a hose or a bucket of clean water, rinse the furniture thoroughly to remove any soap residue. Make sure to rinse all areas, including the undersides of the furniture. Avoid using a pressure washer as it can damage the wood and strip away its natural oils.

Step 5: Allow the furniture to dry completely

Leave the furniture in a well-ventilated area to dry completely. Avoid using a dryer or placing the furniture in direct sunlight as this can cause the wood to warp or crack.

Step 6: Reassemble the furniture

Once your teak furniture has dried down completely, you can reassemble it and replace any cushions or covers.

A teak outdoor dining table with a vase, water kettle, and glasses atop. @houseofhanes has the Rio Teak Dining Table with 6 Chairs out and ready for Summer.

Optionally, you can also sand down your furniture or apply teak oil during this process. If your teak furniture has any stubborn stains or discolouration, you can sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper. Likewise, if you feel that your teak furniture is looking a little faded, you can restore its natural shine by applying teak oil with a soft brush or clean cloth.

Should I oil my outdoor teak furniture?

Teak wood naturally contains oils that make it resistant to water, rot, and insects, so it doesn't necessarily need oiling to maintain its durability. However, over time, teak wood can lose its natural oils and turn grey or silver if left untreated.

Oiling your teak furniture can help restore its natural colour and protect it from weather damage, fading, and cracking. Teak oil will penetrate the wood, creating a protective layer that repels water and prevents the wood from drying out. It can also enhance the wood's natural shine and make it look more vibrant.

How do I remove oil stains?

Oil stains on teak outdoor furniture can be tricky to remove, especially if left for a long time. Here’s how you can try and get rid of them.

Dishes and cups are placed on an outdoor teak dining table with woven placemats. Using placemats can prevent oil stains on your teak furniture. Pictured: Rio Teak Dining Table.

Start off by blotting up as much of the oil as possible using a clean cloth or paper towel. Be gentle and avoid rubbing the stain, as this can spread the oil further. The, mix a cleaning solution using warm water and a mild detergent or teak cleaner. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution and gently scrub the stain. After scrubbing the stain, rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution or oil. If the stain is still visible, repeat the cleaning process.

If the stain is particularly stubborn, you may need to sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain and avoid using too much pressure, as this can damage the wood.

Remember to let your furniture dry completely before reassembling them or covering them with furniture covers.

How do I remove black spots and mildew?

Teak outdoor furniture is susceptible to developing black spots, also known as mildew, especially if it's exposed to damp or humid conditions. Here’s how you can remove these stains.

Create a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar or bleach. Alternatively, you can use a solution of warm water and dish soap. However, if the mildew has been left growing and untreated for a while, you might need a stronger solution like commercial teak cleaners to help you get the job done.

Using a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth, apply the cleaning solution to the affected area. Be sure to wear gloves when working with mildew or harsh chemicals. Gently scrub the area with the brush or cloth, paying particular attention to any dark spots. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can damage the wood.

After scrubbing the area, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution or debris. If the mildew is still visible, repeat the cleaning process until the stains are removed.

To prevent mildew from returning, keep your teak furniture clean and dry, and avoid placing it in damp or humid areas. Apply a teak sealer or use a furniture cover to help protect the wood from moisture and UV rays.

Teak outdoor furniture is a beautiful and durable option for your outdoor space, but it requires proper care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. By following the best practices for cleaning teak furniture and taking steps to prevent damage, you can enjoy your outdoor living area for years to come.

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