Are you trying to figure out how to clean teak wood? You’re in the right place.
Teak wood is just the best. This close-grain hardwood is rich in natural oils and highly moisture-resistant.
Seriously though, teak wood furniture is so good at resisting water that it can sit outside through a snowy winter or heavy rains and not rot. Pretty impressive. It’s also super easy to clean.
So in other words, teak is a very low-maintenance material. And we like low-maintenance wood around here.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to clean teak wood step by step so you can keep your furniture sparkling! Let’s dig in!
- Clean your teak furniture using a solution of water, detergent, and vinegar or bleach. You can also use a commercial teak cleaner if your furniture is really stained.
- Avoid pressure washing, using steel wool, or oiling your outdoor teak furniture with teak oil.
- Soak up teak furniture spills as soon as they happen, then sand over the stain to remove it completely.
How to Clean Teak Wood Furniture: Step-by-Step Guide
Teak outdoor furniture is super popular since it’s so moisture-resistant. It can withstand extreme climate changes like snowstorms, hot, humid summers, and heavy rains.
But teak can also be used for indoor furniture like teak shower benches and dining room tables.
Since teak furniture often sits in a moist environment, it can eventually develop black stains, mildew, and dirt from the outdoors. Luckily, teak is easy to clean and only requires a few simple ingredients.
Keep in mind while cleaning, you don’t need to excessively oil or scrape down teak wood to clean it. You also don’t need to prep it.
Teak wood is chalk-full of natural oils that will be coaxed out with a little sanding or brushing.
Before you get started with cleaning your teak furniture, you’ll need to gather a few supplies.
Teak Wood Cleaning Supplies:
- Spray bottle or garden sprayer
- Dish soap or laundry detergent
- Vinegar or bleach
- Warm water
- Rag or soft cloth
- Utility bucket
- Soft to medium-bristle brush
- Disposable gloves (if using commercial cleaner & bleach)
Now that you have everything you need, let’s go over how to clean teak wood furniture in this step-by-step guide.
1. Make Your DIY Teak Cleaner
Let’s get started by creating your DIY cleaning solution. For this post, we’re going to go with a natural, cheap option: detergent soap, warm water, and vinegar or bleach all mixed together.
Powerful DIY Teak Cleaner Recipe:
- 1 gallon of warm water
- 1 cup of laundry detergent/dish soap
- ½ cup of bleach
- *Optional* 2 teaspoons TSP-PF cleaner
Natural, Bleach-free DIY Teak Cleaner:
- 1 gallon of warm water
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 2 tablespoons detergent/dish soap
Mix everything together in a utility bucket. Consider wearing disposable gloves if you’re working with bleach.
Now that you have your solution, bring it outside to where your teak furniture is. Make sure you move the teak wood out of direct sunlight before you start applying the solution. You’re ready for the next step.
Alternative cleaner option: Don’t want to deal with making a cleaner yourself? Pick up some commercial teak cleaner, which is formulated specifically for cleaning stains, mold, and mildew from teak wood. Star Brite is a good option.
- EFFICIENT CLEANING & BRIGHTENING: Clean and brighten weathered, gray, or black teak, effortlessly in…
- UNIVERSAL APPLICATION: Safe for all wood furniture, decks & trim – Teak Cleaner and Brightener…
- SAFE FOR VARIOUS SURFACES: Our Teak Cleaner and Brightener will not harm painted surfaces or…
2. Apply DIY Cleaner to the Teak Furniture
Time to break out your spray bottle or garden sprayer to apply the cleaner to your furniture. A garden sprayer will make for much more efficient application, but a spray bottle is fine too.
If you’re not cleaning your furniture outdoors, make sure you’re at least in a well-ventilated space.
Now, spray down your furniture thoroughly with the cleaner. You’ll want it to be totally saturated from top to bottom.
Before you do any scrubbing, let the cleaner fully saturate for a few minutes. Again, make sure you do this in the shade.
3. Scrub Down the Teak Furniture with a Brush
Grab your soft to medium-bristle brush. It’s time to gently scrub down your furniture while your cleaner still has some moisture in it.
You’ll want to brush down the entire furniture, moving in circular motions. Take special care to focus on the spots where the stains are most prominent.
Make sure not to scrub too hard, as this could harm the beautiful teak finish.
Once you feel like you’ve scrubbed over the whole piece, let it sit for another 10 minutes before moving onto step 4.
4. Rinse Off your Teak Furniture
Now that you’ve totally cleaned the teak, it’s time to rinse off the furniture with water. You can do this in a couple different ways.
You could dump out your cleaning solution in the sink, fill up the bucket with water, and pour it over the outdoor furniture to wash the rest of the cleaner and debris away.
A garden hose rinse-down would work too. Just make sure not to use too much pressure. You don’t want to pressure-wash your teak wood, as this isn’t good for the integrity of the wood.
5. Seal the Teak Furniture
This last step is technically optional, but it’s good practice if you want your outdoor teak furniture to last for years and maintain its beautiful honey color.
Star Brite sells a one-coat teak sealer that works well for locking in its natural oils and beautiful color. Apply this sealer only when the furniture is entirely dry after cleaning.
If you don’t want to work with any more harsh chemicals, consider applying a coat of Danish oil or linseed oil to seal everything in. These work well for either indoor or outdoor teak.
Just make sure if you go with Danish oil, you purchase a non-colored kind. Some Danish oils are colored, which will alter the natural color of your teak.
Teak Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid
If you’re not a teak furniture expert (you’re not alone!), it’s all too easy to make a mistake in caring for your teak furniture.
And some posts out there are somewhat misleading about how to clean teak wood.
Based on advice from teak experts and furniture manufacturers, I’m here to share a couple no-nos when it comes to cleaning this type of furniture.
1. Using Steel Wool on Teak
Don’t use steel wool to try and remove dirt, grime, or stains from your teak wood furniture. While steel wool is super powerful at removing sticky substances, it can be very damaging to the surface of the teak.
Instead of steel wool, use a fine-grit sandpaper to get out any stains in your teak wood. Always be sure to sand with the grain, not against it.
Be relatively gentle. Sanding can actually be good for promoting the natural teak oils, so don’t be afraid to do it!
2. Pressure Washing Teak Furniture
Some blogs recommend pressure washing your teak furniture, but I say nay. Yes, teak is a very durable wood (that’s why it makes for one hell of a cutting board material).
But high pressure washing can actually strip away the natural oils in the teak, leaving it more susceptible to rot, insects, and color fading. Pressure washing isn’t good for the joints of the furniture, either.
3. Improperly Oiling Teak
Another mistake some people make is going crazy with the oils after cleansing.
As mentioned, teak is abundant in natural oils and doesn’t need a heavy lathering of other oils. This may actually be bad for teak wood preservation.
For example, it may sound like a good idea to use teak oil. But teak oil can actually promote mildew in your outdoor furniture.
But you do have the choice to apply something like Danish oil or linseed oil as a sealer after washing. You can also use a teak sealer, no oiling necessary.
What if You Spill Something On Teak Wood?
Oops–you were eating a tasty meal over your teak table, and spilled some oil or grease on the wood. What now?
Removing Oil & Grease Stains from Teak
First, grab a paper towel or soft cloth before the oil has time to set, and dab up as much of the spillage as possible. Cat litter can also work as an effective absorber.
Once you feel like you’ve absorbed as much as you can, take a fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the stained area. Sand in the direction of the grain. This should effectively remove the rest of the stain.
But if the oil had too much time to set, or you can’t seem to get it out fully, mix a bowl of warm water with some vinegar and dish soap.
Pour a little of the solution over the stain. Then take a softer brush and scrub the stained area until the oil is gone.
Additional Tips on Cleaning & Preserving Natural Teak Wood
Need a little extra help cleaning and preserving your natural teak wood? Here are some useful tips and tricks for keeping your teak furniture in great condition year after year.
- Clean your teak furniture annually. Springtime or the end of summer/early fall are both great times of year to do this.
- Wear gloves and eye protection when using teak sealants and bleach. These contain harsh chemicals that may irritate your skin on contact. If you get teak sealant or bleach in your eyes, seek medical attention.
- Absorb any spills on your teak as soon as you notice them to avoid stains. You can soak it up using kitchen paper towels, a cloth, or cat litter.
- Test any cleaning or sealing products on the bottom of your furniture first to see how it reacts with the teak.
- Keep teak furniture out of direct sunlight to preserve natural honey color.
- Be cognizant of cleaner runoffs when working with bleach or vinegar outside. These solutions can leach into the soil and kill plants.
- Try dabbing mineral spirits on teak stain spots with a cloth to help remove them.
If you’re working with polyurethane coated wood, check out this guide to cleaning polyurethane coated wood!
Can you use Dawn to clean teak furniture?
Dawn soap can be safely used to clean take furniture when mixed with warm water and a little bleach or vinegar.
You can also use Method wood cleaner liquid, gentle Tide detergent, Meyer’s detergent, or any other mild dish or laundry soap.
What does vinegar do to teak?
Vinegar is a solvent that’s effective at removing stains and destroying odors and bacteria from surfaces. When vinegar mixed with water interacts with teak wood, it effectively kills off bacteria like mold that may be growing on the teak.
What is a natural cleaner for teak wood?
Vinegar, natural laundry detergent, and natural dish soap are all natural cleaners for teak wood. You can even use Method almond wood cleaner, Dawn, or Meyer’s as a natural teak wood cleaner.
Whether you have teak outdoor furniture or you have teak furniture indoors – cleaning it will eventually be required.
With just a few simple ingredients like warm water, vinegar or bleach, and mild soap, you can remove stubborn stains in no time.
The cleaning process to get teak furniture clean is super easy, which is why so many people love this wood.
All you have to do is mix together this cleaning solution in a utility bucket, apply it with a spray bottle or garden sprayer, scrub it down with a brush, and gently hose it down.
Just ensure that when you clean your teak, you do so in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight. If you’re working with bleach or commercial teak cleaners, wear protective gear like gloves and eye protection.
Don’t use harsh sandpapers, brushes, or steel wool to get out stains. Use gentle pressure, and sand with the grain to remove stubborn spots.
Finish your annual teak cleaning project with a nice sealant, like teak sealer or Danish oil. This will help preserve your beautiful natural teak wood. It’s going to look gorgeous in your yard for many seasons to come!
Jessica Vaillancourt is a freelance writer and blogger obsessed with the Travel, Wellness, and Personal Development industries.
She has 5+ years of experience helping human-first agencies, global companies, and entrepreneurs crush their content marketing goals, and serve more people. Jessica’s work has appeared on leading websites like UpgradedHome.com, BetterHelp.com, and TheDiaryofaNomad.com.
Today, her sole focus (besides finding the world’s best coffee shop) is writing to serve humans, and slow traveling abroad to expand her mind. You can get to know her work at JessAnneWriting.com.