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Old 19-06-2014, 10:31   #1
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Oil + dirt + teak = help!

Hello all,

Looking for some ideas for cleaning teak. We've got a few oil marks, bits of dirt, etc, that came off the fenders.

Any tips out there on how to clean these out?


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Old 19-06-2014, 11:11   #2
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

There are two schools of thought on teak maintenance. Some like the brown look and others like the grey look. I prefer grey so I'll be telling you how to keep the grey.

Start with a good scrub with hot water and soap and a stiff bristle brush then rinse clean. See what that does to the marks because it might be enough.

If more is needed then grab a cup of white vinegar and a scotch brite pad and scrub not just the stains but the entire area around them. You are doing this to get an even color rather that a funny looking bleached section where the stains were. Rinse, dry and inspect. It might be necessary to repeat the vinegar scrub if the stains are really bad.

The teak should stay grey with just one vinegar scrub but if you need two then you can expect a color change. No matter what you do there will be less damage than a teak cleaner will cause. That stuff is too aggressive and if used repeatedly will cut the life of your teak in half. Teak cleaner is usually an oxalic acid mix which literally melts away the top layer of your teak. Vinegar is a cheaper and milder alternative.

If you like the brown look of teak then go ahead and use the commercial products. If your teak lasts 10 years you will have done well.

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Old 19-06-2014, 12:07   #3
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

I like varnished teak so this is what I do;

1. mix 1 cup of Whisk and 1 cup of Clorox in 1 gallon of clean water.
2. apply to un-varnished teak
3. wait at least an hour...better for a couple of hours
4. wash off and let dry

This should do a very good job of cleaning your teak.
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Old 19-06-2014, 12:45   #4
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

i second the usage of bleach with soap to clean the teak. would hesitate to use acid (even vinegar) though. i find that mildew is a problem in florida and the bleach does a good job with that and also on non skid decks. rinse after scrubbing.
sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
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Old 20-06-2014, 00:59   #5
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

One very important thing to remember if you are going to scrub a teak deck is never to scrub in the direction of the grain as this can rip the soft lighter coloured grained timber which degrades the surface and can leave it rough. Always brush across the grain and do not apply undue pressure.
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Old 20-06-2014, 02:03   #6
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!


If this is only a little oil, I'd try using any vegetable oil, to break it up a bit, then regular dishwashing detergent to clean that area. Where fender grunge is, that you can dissolve with acetone. The latter will leave your teak too clean, and it will need a little tung oil added to those spots, like a tiny bit, rubbed in with a rag.

If you don't get the results you want that way, then use teak wonder products, but you have to keep it up, and it's expensive. If you use Deks Olje, it will eat out the soft grain of the wood.

If you let it go grey (God's will, perhaps), you will have less strife with it. All your choice.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 20-06-2014, 02:58   #7
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

Myself its just a scrub with oxalic acid then a lot of salt water... Don't scrub too hard you just remove the soft grains ......
Steve .. It was the last one that did this !
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Old 21-06-2014, 03:46   #8
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Re: Oil + dirt + teak = help!

Sorry for the late reply (was away from wifi)
Lots of great advice here. I'll give it a go and get back to you with the results.


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