How to clean outdoor teak furniture

November 20, 2014

Furniture made of teak tends to be somewhat expensive. It’s certainly not the sort of thing you want to risk damaging when cleaning.
Teak wood is an extremely durable hardwood, well-suited for outdoor use and very easy to maintain. That doesn’t mean that you should clean it with anything you have lying around.
DON’T use household bleach or trisodium phosphate (TSP), as they’re unnecessarily harsh.
Bleach and TSP will kill any mold spores that might have grown on wood, but teak tends not to be susceptible so a straight application of these chemicals likely won’t be needed.
DO clean the teak annually, to remove any dust and dirt that’s collected.
Outdoor furniture, expectedly, sees its share of grime. Make cleaning your teak an annual event and you’ll keep the buildup from overpowering the beauty. If you’re up for scrubbing by hand, take these simple steps:

  1. Mix up a solution of 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of dishwashing soap and one gallon (about four litres) of water.
  2. Using a soft bristle brush, wash the teak with the soapy solution.
  3. For any in-grain stains, such as a red wine ring, take a fine sandpaper and lightly sand in the direction of the grain.
  4. Rinse the wood with clean water.
  5. Allow the wood to dry completely.

DON’T worry when the teak ages and takes on a silver-grey patina in six months to a year. It’s natural and can be reversed.
Some people see the silver-grey aging as rustic, while others will want to restore its original golden-honey lustre. If you seek restoration rather than simple cleaning, apply teak cleaner (found in most home repair or boat stores) directly to the wood and scrub with a bristle brush. Rinse the wood with clean water and wait for it to fully dry.

Or, you can use a pressure washer but be careful. You don’t want to damage the wood.

  1. Set the pressure washer to no more than 2000 psi and use a nozzle with a 15-degree or wider spray.
  2. Hold it six inches (15 cm) away to remove the grey layer.
  3. Move along the grain of the wood so you don’t get streaks, and don’t repeat areas unless necessary —and do so with caution.

If you’re concerned about your ability to use a gentle touch, don’t risk it. Hire a professional instead.
DO ensure you take steps to protect the new surface.
Apply a UV-blocking teak sealer (not teak oil) on outdoor furniture if you’ve restored its surface. Without protection, the teak will be back to its silvery-grey colour in no time, but teak sealer buys the fresh new surface about a year.

Properly maintained, your teak furniture will look beautiful year after year.

How to clean outdoor teak furniture
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