How To Keep Your Boat Teak Looking New

How To Keep Your Boat Teak Looking New

For many, the teak deck or trim on your boat is one of the first things that attracted you to its appearance. Overtime, however, the appearance of teak can become undesirable as you use your boat and the teak is exposed to the sun

As anyone with a teak deck or trim on their boat knows, well maintained teak can make or break the appearance of your boat. Though teak is resilient, it does require effort to keep your boat looking new.

Before You Start

Before you start cleaning your teak with any cleaner, be aware that many cleaners contain acids that are hard on the wood.  Teak can be dissolved by stronger cleaners so always base your choice of cleaner on the severity of your teak’s discoloration, whether it is dark brown or weathered grey. Be sure to read all warning labels on cleaning products you decide to use! 

A Simple Solution

The mildest teak cleaner you can use is any general household powdered cleaner, such as Spic ‘n Span. An alternative to this would be a mixture of ¾ liquid laundry detergent and ¼ chlorine bleach. 

1). First wet down the area you will be cleaning

2.) Using a 3M or a 3M pad, scrub firmly but not too hard across the grain. Regularly using a firm brush will remove softer wood off of the top of the teak, eventually making it an uneven surface and raising the grain.  Rinse your deck with fresh water and let it dry.

For some, this is all of the cleaning that is required for your teak to return to its even light tan color.  If your deck is still grey, however, more intense cleaners may be required. 

Stubborn Stains

To remove more stubborn stains on your teak, cleaning with oxalic acid will be your next step.  Oxalic acid is the active ingredient in most one-part teak cleaners, which can be purchased anywhere from Amazon to West Marine. 

Some of these cleaners contain acid so use eye and hand protection when scrubbing.  Again, the process with these cleaners is generally the same as before:  wet the teak, apply the cleaner, scrub, and rinse with fresh water.  It is important to rinse these cleaners off well because they contain acid that could be harmful to the teak and/or your boat if left on too long! 

This second step will work for most, but if your teak is still not the light tan color you desire, two-part teak cleaners are more powerful and will get the job done if all else has failed.  These cleaners contain stronger acid and should only be used when all other methods have been unsuccessful. 

Using a nylon brush, paint part one onto wet wood, being careful to only apply the cleaner to the teak.  To remove the dissolved surface, scrub the wood with the grain with a stiff brush or Scotchbrite pad.  Next, paint a sufficient amount of part two onto the teak until you reach a consecutive color and then scrub lightly.  Again, be sure to rinse the cleaner away completely and let it dry. 


Any of these methods are sure to work, no matter how dirty your teak is!  Regular upkeep of the wood will keep you from having to go to more extreme measures to clean it, but even if you have neglected this area of your boat for a while, there is always a solution.  If you have any more tips for cleaning teak, let us know in the comments below! 

Photo Credit: Ideal Teak decking via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: hepp via Compfight cc

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