The Best Way To Clean Reclaimed Wood In Your Home

Using material like reclaimed wood in projects is a great way to create a rustic design in your home. Even DIY experts like Dave and Jenny Marrs have ideas for using reclaimed wood to create extra storage. Alternatively, you can complete multiple projects with it to create rustic decor. Using reclaimed wood is a great way to repurpose materials that still have a long, useful lifespan, rather than placing them in a landfill. Reusing these materials also reduces the need to cut down new trees. However, because reclaimed wood is material used for other purposes initially, such as a barn, an industrial building, or gym bleachers, you may need to clean it before you reuse it for another purpose.

Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that you can use to clean the material inexpensively. For more challenging problems, you may need to purchase a commercial product to clean the reclaimed wood. Additionally, you should inspect your materials for the possibility of insects before using them for a new project. You can create homemade remedies for eliminating insects or rely on a retail option.

Best ways to clean reclaimed wood before reusing it

Reclaimed wood is almost undoubtedly dirty, with the degree of grime depending on its original purpose. For example, it could have accumulated dirt and dust over decades if used in a barn or in another exterior location. It may even have been exposed to enough moisture that mold and mildew formed on the surface. You want the years of wear to show through on this wood, giving it the character that's so appealing for this material, but you don't want dirt or mold to be part of your new project.

A pressure washer is one of the fastest ways to clean the reclaimed wood. Stand the pieces upright so you can easily clean both sides. Avoid using a spray nozzle with too much power, or the water could cut grooves in the material. The powerful jet also could remove some of the best features of the reclaimed wood's charm and character.

If you want to avoid the pressure washer, sweep or wipe the dry materials off the boards. You can use a broom, a soft-bristled brush, or a vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment. You then can follow up with a gentle soap, like dish soap, and water to finish cleaning it properly.

How to clean your reclaimed wood if you believe it has insects

Insects can be a common problem when using reclaimed wood, especially depending on its original use case and how it was stored before you obtained it. The material could have active bugs crawling on it that you can easily see, but it also could have dormant insects and eggs bored inside the wood that only become active when you move it into a warm location indoors. Although you may find termites in this material, boring beetles are possible, too.

To clean the reclaimed wood in a way that makes insects go away, consider creating a mixture of borax and water in a spray bottle or a bucket. Use a teaspoon of borax for every 8 ounces of warm water. Then, apply the mixture to the wood, coating it. You can let it sit in the sun for two days, allowing the material to dry properly while ensuring it takes care of the bugs effectively.

If you own a steamer, you could use this to heat the reclaimed wood to the point that it may kill most insects. However, this method may miss some bugs, leaving you with a smaller but ongoing problem. Using a steamer may give the reclaimed wood its patina, which can be beneficial in improving the overall look of the material for your next project.