With our old sailboat, Selene, a 35’ Moody I don’t think it ever crossed our mind that our teak deck needed a clean. Of course, we’d spray it down with fresh water and clean off any bird poop but we never thought of properly cleaning the teak.
With our Oyster 56′, we’ve felt a stronger desire to make the teak look amazing
Perhaps it’s because there’s more of it AND maybe it’s because the weather is nice enough to spend time cleaning?
Our Moody was in the English Solent and staying warm, even during the summer, was our main concern. Now that we’re sailing the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and have nothing better to do, we set out to learn the best way to clean and maintain our teak decks.
That being said, we didn’t learn the proper way of doing our teak until after we had one dud attempt. Back in April, when we were in Malta my husband, cousin and I spent the day cleaning the teak with fresh water and brushes. The gunk that came of the boat was disgusting! As we used our brushes, black sludge oozed out the wood and it smelled quite fishy. Yuck!
Furthermore, we noticed that the grey wood turned to wood colored wood
Unfortunately, however, the wood colored teak didn’t last very long. Within a few days it was back to the dull grey color. What a waste of time. We spent some very precious hours cleaning while my daughter was with friends and the end result didn’t last long.
While in Sicily, my husband asked our new contact, George Rizzo, what his thoughts were about cleaning teak. If you don’t know George, he’s a man that knows everything there is to know about boating and boats. Moreover, he knows who you need to know to get anything done.
George not only explained a proper way to clean the teak, he actually helped my husband to get the necessary solutions. I’m not a chandlery dawdler so I have no idea about marine brands. I assume there are a variety of brands, but we used a line of solutions from Teak Wonder.
The 3-step process of cleaning Teak is fairly easy but quite time consuming
Before starting, you’ll need teak cleaner, teak brightener and then a teak stain-sealant in addition to fresh water. This job cannot be done with salt-water so it somewhat restricts you to doing the job in a marina where a fresh water hose can be sourced.
How to make the teak deck on your sailboat look amazing
Step 1: Clean the teak
We used Teak Wonder Teak Cleaner. It’s a blue solution that we dabbed on our wet deck with a brush you’d use to clean dishes with. We poured the solution into a cut-open 1.5 ltr water bottle. And then we used a larger longer brush to do the scrubbing. Going with the grain of the wood we’d scrub the gunk out, wash away with fresh water and the repeat if necessary. The trick is to get the soap suds to remain white rather than turn dirty colored. Once they’re white, it’s a sign to move onto the next patch. We focused on small square patches. Below is a picture of my cousin scrubbing the deck clean.
Step 2: Brighten the teak
While the deck is wet, you can slop this stuff on with a 3” paint brush. There’s no need to be precise, you just want to soak the teak with it. To my amazement, the teak bighted up in a big way. It’s always so nice to see results so quickly. See pictures below.
Step 3: Dressing and Sealer
Once the deck has completely dried, you can then apply a light stain and sealant to really preserve the wood color. This takes quite a while as you can’t slop this stuff on. In fact, it’s really hard to keep it from spraying onto the GRP or the non-teak areas. And it likes to run so you have to keep an eye on it that it’s not draining off the teak and onto the white areas of the deck and hull. The results, however, seem to be worth it. It’s still early days, only a week since we finished, but thus far the deck looks fantastic. It’s still wood colored and not that dull gray!
Now…our next problem is to find out how to clean the GRP and get rid of all the stain that dribbled onto it!
Overall, it took us several stops at marinas to get the deck done. We needed to use fresh water and the only time we had that opportunity was when there was a fresh water supply. We did parts of our deck in Riposto, Sicily and then in Greece – Gouvia Marina, Lefkas Marina and one final push at Sami.
If you have any other tips, techniques or comments about cleaning and staining a teak deck, please let me know. Also – any tips on cleaning GPR would be appreciated too.