How to clean and care for teak furniture

How to clean and care for teak furniture

Teak is a beautiful, stylish and extremely durable hardwood, which is naturally resistant to water, rot, pests, and the general ravages of time – as well as the elements! With just a minimal amount of care, your teak furniture will last for years to come.

Its rich natural oils and tight grain mean that teak is an exceptionally dense and strong hardwood, and it’s also very low maintenance. What’s more, at Raft we treat our reclaimed teak using state-of-the-art solar kilns, to maximise its quality and longevity.

Here we look at how to clean and care for your teak furniture, to help keep it in tip top condition so it can give you and your family many years of enjoyment in the future.

Does teak furniture need to be treated?

At Raft, we reclaim our teakwood from a range of different sources – from houses and bridges, to railway sleepers. Each piece of furniture has a unique history and provenance, and every knot and indentation has its own story!

Our natural teak products are not lacquered or varnished, as we believe this helps to showcase the true beauty and character of reclaimed teak. In its natural state, teak is a beautiful warm golden colour, which will weather to a lovely silvery-grey patina over time.

Our reclaimed teak furniture is also available in a dark teak finish, which gives the wood a rich mahogany colour.

Teak is naturally hardwearing and resistant to the elements, which makes it perfect for both indoor and outdoor furniture. At Raft, we believe that reclaimed teak furniture doesn’t need any additional paints, oils or varnishes.

In fact, using such products can do more harm than good in the long run. Most ‘teak oils’ contain solvents and can actually deplete the naturally protective oils in the wood, so once you begin to oil your furniture you will need to continue to do so regularly. Applying oils can also trap dirt and encourage the growth of mildew and fungus.

If you do want to treat your teak furniture, we recommend using a natural beeswax – just make sure you check that the product is suitable, and that your furniture is clean, before you begin.

Cleaning your teak furniture

While teak furniture requires very little maintenance, you may need to deal with the odd stain or spillage from time to time, and giving your furniture a periodic clean will also help to remove any build-up of dust and dirt, and keep it looking beautiful.

After buying your teak furniture, we recommend that you dust it down with a damp lint-free cloth to remove any excess sawdust, starting with a test area that’s out of sight. Thereafter, you can dust your furniture with a dry lint-free cloth as often as needed.

You can also lightly wax any drawer runners on the insides of the drawer panel, to ensure a smooth pull.

Routine cleaning

Giving your teak furniture a gentle clean from time to time will help ensure that it stays in good condition and looking its best.

If you’re cleaning your furniture outdoors, choose a nice sunny day so that the wood will dry more quickly afterwards. If you’re cleaning indoors, make sure the space is well ventilated.

To clean your teak furniture, all you need is some washing-up liquid, some warm water, a sponge and a soft bristled scrubbing brush:

  • firstly, remove any surface debris
  • make a mild solution of soap and water, by adding a few tablespoons of washing-up liquid to a gallon of warm water
  • wipe the furniture gently with a soapy sponge, starting from the bottom of the furniture and working upwards – this helps to avoid streaks or watermarks
  • remember to rinse the sponge regularly as you clean
  • for more stubborn spots, use the soft bristled brush, working with a gentle scrubbing motion
  • finally, rinse the surface to remove any residue – while you might want to use a hose to rinse outdoor teak furniture, you should never pressure wash your furniture, as this can strip the protective surface of the wood and cause damage and deformities.

Dealing with stains

Most stains or spillages will normally clean away easily enough, especially if you deal with them straight away.

For untreated teak furniture, a light dusting with a fine grade sandpaper will remove most marks, including wine and oily foods. Remember to always work along the grain of the wood. To clean dark finished teak, we recommend using warm soapy water and a sponge. You should avoid using any other chemical cleansers or sprays, as they may damage the finish.

If you notice white ring marks on your dark teak furniture, you can apply a white ring remover from a DIY ship, or alternatively try combining olive oil and cigar ash (or paper ash) – just rub the mixture gently into the mark.

Caring for your teak furniture

It’s a good idea to check the joints of your furniture once a year, just to make sure that everything remains nice and tight.

You might also want to protect your furniture against wear and tear, or little accidents. For example, if you’re hosting a big family barbecue you might consider using some place mats to help guard your outdoor furniture against unwanted spillages.

Meanwhile, if your dining room table also doubles up as a homework or crafting table, you can protect it against scratches, scrapes or misplaced doodles by covering it with a padded cloth or a layer of cardboard.

However, when it comes to outdoor teak furniture, it’s not normally necessary to cover your furniture in the winter, or to move it indoors. In fact, many water resistant covers actually allow moist air to accumulate underneath, which can encourage mould and mildew – so if you do decide to use a cover it’s important to choose one that’s breathable, and avoid using plastic.

Teak is one of the most hardwearing and durable woods available, and by giving it just a little care and attention from time to time you can help ensure that it lasts for decades to come.

At Raft, we are leading experts in reclaimed teak. If you require any help with caring for your furniture, please contact us.

You can browse our range of beautiful reclaimed teak furniture here.