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How to Clean and Care for Teak Dining Table Furniture

Virginia Shelley
8 minute read

Premium teak is renowned for its natural beauty, weather resistance, and durability. As a result, teakwood makes an excellent material choice for outdoor furniture, from patio dining sets to poolside loungers. However, even hardy teak requires occasional cleaning and maintenance to look its best. With time and exposure to the elements, teak’s signature golden brown patina can become discolored, dull, or weathered to gray. How to clean a teak table properly is key to preserving its handsome finish.

In this guide, we’ll provide helpful tips and best practices to keep your prized teak dining tables, chairs, benches, and more looking pristine. We’ll cover techniques for retaining teak’s rich honey color as well as embracing its silvery gray weathered aesthetic.

You’ll learn how to remove stubborn stains, tackle mold and mildew, and perform quick repairs. With a little knowledge and regular care, your outdoor teak can provide decades of elegance and enjoyment. Let’s get started with the basics of cleaning and caring for teak patio furniture.

Understanding the Teak Weathering Process

Teak is prized for its natural oils that help repel water, prevent rot, and protect against pests. However, UV exposure, humidity, and moisture work to break down those protective oils over time. As teak’s oils oxidize and dissipate, the wood begins to weather and change color.

This weathering process causes the rich golden-brown patina of new teak to fade first into a mottled grayish tone. Eventually, untreated teak left outdoors will become an even silvery-gray shade after months or years of exposure. The timeframe depends on environmental factors – teak will weather faster in damp climates than in arid areas. Frequent rain and dew accelerate the leeching of oils.

It’s important to understand this color transformation is purely cosmetic. The weathering does not damage the teak’s unparalleled strength or compromised its structural integrity whatsoever. While some prefer the aged appearance of weathered teak, others wish to maintain the wood’s warm honey hue as long as possible.

Why Teak Furniture Changes Color Over Time?

Teak’s prized golden-brown patina will inevitably weather to a silvery-gray tone after prolonged exposure to the elements. There are a few key factors that cause this natural color transformation over time:

  1. Sunlight: The UV rays in sunlight break down the oils in teak through a process called oxidation. This causes the wood to dry out and fade.
  2. Moisture: Frequent moisture from rain, dew, and humidity leech out teak’s natural oils. Damp climates speed up weathering.
  3. Lack of Maintenance: Without periodic cleaning and refinishing, teak is left unprotected from the drying effects of sun and moisture.

As these forces work to deplete the oils in the surface layers of the wood, the teak’s color pigments also begin to fade and change. The wood transitions from warm golden-brown to a mottled grayish tone. After months or years, it becomes an even silver-gray.

While many find this aged, weathered look attractive, others wish to maintain the teak’s original color for as long as possible. 

Though purely cosmetic, the change from brown to gray gives some homeowners the false impression that the wood is weakened or compromised. In fact, weathered teak remains extremely durable and resilient against rot, pests, and the elements. But with knowledge of what causes the color shift, you can better decide how to care for your teak furniture’s finish over time.

Best Practices for Cleaning Teak Furniture

How To Clean Teak Dining Table

Regular cleaning and maintenance are key to keeping your teak furniture looking its best. But how often should you plan to wash your teak? As a general rule, aim to clean teak pieces at least once a year. For furniture that gets heavy use or is exposed to the elements, bump that up to 2-3 times per year.

When it comes to basic cleaning, soap and water are all you need in most cases. Use a gentle detergent or mild soap and lukewarm water. Apply the soapy solution with a soft bristle brush, scrubbing lightly to lift dirt and debris. Avoid abrasive scouring pads or steel wool that could scratch the teak’s surface.

Rinse thoroughly to remove all suds and residue. You can use a garden hose on lower pressure or wipe furniture dry with a clean soft cloth. Promptly wiping spills when they occur prevents stains from setting.

Of course, always test cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before applying them to the whole piece. Harsh chemical products can damage the teak’s finish. Acid-based formulas should never be used.

A Teak Furniture Cleaning Schedule

Choosing the Right Teak Cleaning Products

The key is finding the right balance – keeping your teak free of dirt buildup but not washing it so vigorously that you strip away natural protective oils. With routine care and by promptly addressing any issues like mold or stains, you can keep your teak pieces looking pristine.

How to Care for Teak Year Round

Caring for your prized teak furnishings should be a year-round endeavor. Here are some key seasonal maintenance tips:

Spring and Summer

The UV rays are strongest during the warmer months. Sun exposure is one of the biggest culprits of teak fading, so protection is crucial.


As the weather cools, it’s time to prep your teak for the off-season.


You can leave teak outdoors year-round, but beware of bringing it into dry indoor heat.

Year-Round Teak Care Tips

Removing Mold and Mildew from Teak

Even durable teak can develop mold and mildew over time. While teak’s natural oils help deter fungal growth, spores can take root in dirt, debris, and moisture that accumulate on the surface.

If left untreated, mold can spread across your teak furniture, leading to unsightly staining and discoloration. More importantly, mold is a health hazard, especially for children and those with compromised immune systems.

That’s why it’s crucial to promptly address any mold issues that arise on your teak furnishings. Don’t ignore small spots – deal with them right away before they multiply and penetrate deeper.

For light mold removal, many common household cleaners will work well:

Apply the cleaning solution and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to dry the teak completely.

For more entrenched infestations, or if you want the assurance of professional treatment, hire a teak cleaning service. Experts have industrial-strength antimicrobial solutions and tools to fully eradicate mold and prevent reoccurrence.

While teak itself deters mildew, you must ensure dirt and moisture don’t accumulate. Promptly clean spills and check for mold growth regularly. If you do find mold or mildew, tackle it right away with household cleaners or professional help. Consistent care keeps your teak pristine.

Simple Teak Furniture Repairs

Even quality teak furnishings can show signs of wear and tear over time. Here are some common issues and easy DIY fixes:

The key is addressing problems early before they worsen. With some basic DIY fixes like filling, sanding, patching, and tightening, you can keep your teak furniture in great shape for years to come.

Restoring Discolored Teak Furniture

Over time, your beloved teak furnishings may lose their warm, honey-brown luster and become dull, gray, or stained. While some enjoy the weathered look, it can be restored with a bit of elbow grease.

For surface-level graying, gently sanding with fine-grit sandpaper can reveal the fresh golden tone underneath. Work slowly and carefully to avoid over-sanding, which can damage the wood.

For deeper stains that persist, use a product containing oxalic acid, which draws out discoloration from the pores. Test first and follow instructions closely.

While bleach can lighten teak, it’s risky in inexperienced hands. Correct dilution and application are crucial to avoid chemical damage or uneven lighting.

Extensively weathered or splintered teak may be beyond DIY restoration. At a certain point, it’s best to replace damaged furniture or hire a pro for full refinishing.

Address discoloration sooner than later for the easiest reversal. Light sanding and oxalic acid can successfully restore lightly to moderately weathered teak. For advanced restoration, have it professionally refinished to protect your investment.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Teak

While teak is highly durable, there are some cleaning mistakes that can damage your furniture. Avoid these missteps:

While teak is highly resilient, it still requires a gentle approach when cleaning and maintaining it. Avoid abrasives, harsh pressure blasting, outdoor oiling, and excessively dry indoor heat to prevent damage. With the proper care regimen, your teak will last for decades to come.