How to Care for Outdoor Teak Furniture

Teak is a wonderful wood for outdoor furniture--its natural oils make it strong, long-lasting and resistant to decay from the elements.

It's also beautiful--it starts out a lovely shade of blonde or brown and turns silvery as it ages. The best thing about outdoor teak furniture is that you don't have to fuss over it. Just wash it occasionally.

When teak furniture gets dirty, wash it by hand with soapy water (dishwashing detergent is fine). Rinse afterward. Hand-washing cleans the wood and helps get rid of moss. Don't use a power washer--that can damage the surface.

Use a water-based teak cleaner if your furniture is really grimy or stained. It removes deep-seated dirt, mold and mildew and makes the wood look fresher and brighter.

If you want to keep the wood from staining, apply a water-and-stain guard each season (see Resources below). However, don't use an oil sealer on outdoor teak furniture--it leads to discoloration due to mold.

Leave your teak alone if you want it to weather naturally to a silvery tone. If you love the color of new teak, you can buy a water-based sealer that contains protection from ultraviolet rays (see Resources below). Apply it once a year or more, depending on your weather conditions.


  • Painting teak covers its beautiful natural look. If you're set on changing the color, try a penetrating stain.

About the Author

Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.