How To Clean Teak Furniture

Here at Royal Finesse, we love Teak!  Not only does it look great, but it's also a popular choice for outdoor furniture due to its durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions. However, like any other type of furniture, teak requires regular cleaning to maintain its appearance and longevity.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean your teak furniture without delving into the restoration aspect;

1. Gather Necessary Supplies:

  • Brush, Sponge, or Clean Cloth: Utilising a soft brush, sponge, or soft cloth is crucial for ensuring the cleaning process is gentle on the teak wood. These soft cleaning tools help in effectively removing dirt and grime without scratching or damaging the wood surface.
  • Mild Detergent: Soapy water or mild detergent is a safe choice for cleaning teak furniture as it can help in breaking down dirt and stains without being too harsh on the wood. It's advisable to avoid harsh laundry detergents with chemicals that might strip the natural oils from the teak.
  • Water: Water is a fundamental part of the cleaning process. It's used to create a cleaning solution and to rinse off the mild soap residue post-cleaning.
  • Rubber Gloves: Wearing rubber gloves will protect your hands from any irritation that might be caused by the detergent or teak cleaner, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Teak Cleaner (Optional): Commercial teak cleaners are formulated specifically for cleaning teak wood. They are designed to be gentle on the wood while effectively tackling dirt, stains, and mildew.

2. Prepare The Cleaning Area:

When embarking on the task of cleaning teak furniture, the preparation of the cleaning area is a step of paramount importance. It's advisable to position the furniture on a flat and stable surface to ensure safety and efficiency during the cleaning process.

A flat surface minimises the risk of the furniture tipping over or getting damaged, which can occur on an uneven or unstable surface. Moreover, performing the cleaning outdoors or in a well-ventilated area serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it helps in avoiding a mess indoors, which could require additional cleaning post-task. Secondly, a well-ventilated area ensures better airflow, which is crucial for the drying process post-cleaning.

Additionally, outdoor cleaning can utilise natural sunlight, which is beneficial for the drying process and can help in highlighting areas of the furniture that may require extra attention during cleaning.

3. Dry Dusting:

The dry dusting step is the initial yet crucial phase in the cleaning routine. By employing a dry, soft-bristle brush, loose dirt, dust, and debris can be effectively removed from the furniture's surface. This step serves as a preparatory measure to ensure that the subsequent wet cleaning process is more efficient and effective.

Without dry dusting, the wet cleaning phase could become cumbersome, as layers of loose dirt might hinder the cleaning solution from reaching the wood surface effectively. Moreover, dry dusting aids in achieving a more thorough cleaning as it pre-empts the wet cleaning phase by removing superficial dirt, allowing the cleaning solution to tackle more ingrained grime and stubborn stains during the subsequent step.

4. Prepare Your Cleaning Solutions:

  • Mild Detergent Solution: The concoction of a mild detergent solution is a gentle yet effective way to clean teak furniture. By mixing a small amount of mild detergent in warm water, a cleaning solution is created that can navigate through dirt and grime without being harsh on the wood's surface. The warm water serves as a catalyst in breaking down grime, making the cleaning process smoother and more effective. This mild solution ensures that the natural oils and the texture of the wood remain intact while achieving a clean and refreshed look.
  • Commercial Teak Cleaner: On the other hand, a commercial teak cleaner serves as an alternative that is specifically formulated with the nuances of teak wood in mind. These cleaners are designed to be gentle on the wood while effectively tackling dirt, stains, and mildew. The advantage of using a commercial teak cleaner is its tailored formulation that not only cleans effectively but also preserves the natural oils of the wood, thereby maintaining its aesthetic appeal. This specialised cleaner can be a more convenient and effective choice for individuals looking for a hassle-free and reliable cleaning solution for their teak furniture. 

5. Clean (carefully):

  • Soft-bristle Brush or Sponge: Using a soft-bristle brush or sponge is vital to ensure a gentle scrubbing action. The aim is to dislodge dirt, stains, and any mildew without scratching or damaging the wood surface. Following the grain of the wood while scrubbing is also crucial to prevent any scratches or undue roughening of the surface.
  • Cleaning Solution: The cleaning solution, whether it's a mild detergent mixture with clean water or a commercial teak cleaner, should be applied generously but carefully. It's designed to break down and lift grime, stains, and other dirt from the wood.
  • Systematic Cleaning: It's beneficial to have a systematic approach to cleaning, such as working from top to bottom or from one end to the other. This ensures that all areas of the furniture are covered, including the crevices, joints, and any carved details that might harbor dirt.

6. Rinse Thoroughly:

It's vital to ensure that all soap residue is removed from the furniture post-cleaning. Utilising clean, cool water for rinsing can be effective in washing away the soap along with any dislodged dirt and grime from the wood. It's advisable to perform a gentle rinse, avoiding using a pressure washer, as high-pressure washing can strip away the wood’s natural oils or cause the wood to splinter, which could compromise the quality and appearance of your valuable teak pieces. The emphasis on a thorough rinse is to ensure that the wood is left clean and free from any soap residue which can attract dirt or make the wood appear dull over time.

8. Natural Drying:

Allowing the teak furniture to dry naturally in the sun is a beneficial practice. The sun’s warmth aids in evaporating the moisture quickly, which in turn prevents the potential formation of mold and mildew. If sun drying isn't an option due to weather conditions or space constraints, placing the furniture in a well-ventilated area is also effective for the drying process.

Proper ventilation ensures that moisture evaporates efficiently, thus reducing the risk of mold or mildew formation. It's advisable to steer clear of rushed drying methods such as using heat guns, hair dryers, or placing the furniture near heaters as extreme heat can cause the wood to crack or warp, which would negatively affect the longevity and aesthetics of the teak furniture.

8. Regular Maintenance:

Engaging in regular maintenance is crucial to extend the lifespan and maintain the aesthetic appeal of your teak furniture. Performing the cleaning routine outlined previously on a periodic basis, especially before and after the outdoor season, can significantly contribute to keeping your teak furniture looking its best. The outdoor season typically exposes furniture to a myriad of elements like rain, sun, and dirt which can be harsh on the wood.

A routine cleaning, therefore, acts as a preventative measure, ensuring that the furniture is in optimum condition to face these elements or to be stored away clean. This habit of regular maintenance is what will differentiate well-kept, long-lasting teak wood furniture from ones that deteriorate and lose their appeal over time.

9. Avoid Harsh Chemicals:

The unique quality and durability of teak wood can be maintained by avoiding the use of harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners during the cleaning process. These harsh substances can erode the wood's surface, strip its natural oils, and even alter its color over time.

The natural composition of teak wood makes it resilient to many outdoor elements, but harsh chemicals can significantly undermine this resilience. Steering clear from these harsh cleaning agents and opting for mild detergents or specially formulated teak cleaners will ensure that the wood remains in its natural, durable, and aesthetically pleasing state for a longer time.

10. Oil Application (Optional):

Oil application, though optional, can be a step further in the maintenance of your outdoor teak furniture. Applying teak oil can help in maintaining the rich color and condition of the teak wood. It's a step that veers towards restoration rather than mere cleaning, and it could be seen as an extra measure to enhance the wood's appearance and prolong its durability.

However, it's important to note that while teak oil can offer a short-term visual enhancement, it's not necessary for maintaining the wood’s durability. Moreover, the frequency of oil application might create a dependency as the wood may appear dry or faded as the oil wears off, necessitating further applications. Hence, while it can be beneficial for aesthetic reasons, it's a step that should be considered with a clear understanding of its implications towards restoration rather than cleaning.

Incorporating these steps in your teak furniture maintenance routine can significantly contribute to preserving its beauty and durability for many years. The essence of gentle and regular cleaning, along with optional measures like oil application, form a comprehensive approach to ensuring the longevity and aesthetic appeal of your prised teak possessions.

Through these practices, you are not only cleaning your furniture but also engaging in a holistic maintenance routine that will keep your teak furniture ready for use and visually appealing through the seasons.

By following proper cleaning process and using quality products, you can enjoy your teak furniture for many years to come. As well as beautiful teak furniture, Royal Finesse offer a teak garden furniture restoration kit to keep your teak garden furniture looking great.