Whether you’re at the beach or lake or even a creek, chances are you’ve found some beautiful driftwood. If you’re like me, you want to figure out how to clean driftwood before using it in craft projects or decorating. It’s actually quite simple, and if you have small pieces to clean you can do them all fairly quickly. All you need is a little bleach, a little water and a couple of weeks and you can clean small driftwood pieces easily.
HOW TO CLEAN DRIFTWOOD
After you’ve collected your wood, gather and sort it into sizes to make the process easier. First you’ll need to use a small brush to clean off any dirt or loose debris. Just give it a good brush down all the way around, you can rinse the wood if you’d like to get off any mud.
In a bucket of water, make the soaking solution – using 2 cups of bleach per gallon of water. Put the wood into the mixture, and soak it for five days, changing the water every day. If it floats to the top too much, you can hold it down with a heavy object (like a rock).
Let all of the wood dry out thoroughly before use, storing it in a low humidity environment during dry time. Most pieces will take 1-2 weeks, but larger pieces might take longer. Just be sure it is completely dry before using for projects.
Once your driftwood is dry, you can use it for decorating or crafting without worry that it might have critters inside. Plus the bleach helps to lighten up the color of the wood and make it even prettier. It’s perfect for making photo frames, wreaths, and even signs. Pretty much any project gets a little prettier with the help of a little driftwood.
How could I resist this post – considering my business is called Driftwood Interiors? I don’t think it matters where you live, I think driftwood conjures up a relaxed, natural vibe and that’s exactly how I like my rooms to look. I absolutely love your ‘driftwood’ and I love your blog! K xx
Rita Bruce says
Hi Kerri! I live on the island of Dominica, and I am addicted to collecting, and crafting with driftwood, sea glass, coconut shells, and stones/rocks. I love to work with natural things, but throw in something like glass and wooden beads, etc. I also use paint for glass and ceramic surfaces for various effects. I use the color Aqua/turquoise a lot in my work, as well as shades of purple. Should you find yourself vacationing here, I would to meet up with you! Namaste and one love, Rita Bruce. P.S. Check out my website at http://www.zengardensdominica.com.
great idea and I love how it looks in your hurricane vase! I haven’t combed our river lately but I did hike through some forest to find some fallen birch logs to put in a big white planter pot by our front door!
Shorely Chic says
love this from a beach dweller 🙂
Awesome idea! I only live two hours from the beach, but I’ve never found any driftwood. Now I’m going to have to go searching around the creek behind our house!
Tales From My Empty Nest says
Great idea. I love how your “driftwood” looks in your hurricane vase. Love & blessings from NC!
Ooh, what a great idea! And, I have a hurricane similar to that…hmmmmmm…now I have to be on the lookout for some “driftwood” at the lake!
We get great drift wood from the MS River.
Teresa Geeslin says
You are so right. I love to go to the Mississippi River and search. You get a great variety, large and small. I live in Mississippi so it’s only one hour away.
No, but I need to! Great idea!
The Young's says
This is great! I’ve been looking for some new beachy ideas and I love this — thanks!
Okay, now I’ve heard everything!:) I would never have thought to wash and bleach the driftwood. I just pick it up, clap off the sand, and stick it someplace in the house where it will look interesting. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing that, but so far no bugs or germs…. just smelly, salty driftwood. Of course, yours looks more “designer” – and very clean!! :)!! Clever of you to find some at that beautiful creek. It looks really great in the hurricane jar.
Have a good week!
Heidi – Heart and Home
Rina Shaffer says
Same. I haven’t ever found anything living in or on my driftwood. Of course, if its slimy and wet when found, perhaps I’d do this, but probably not multiple times for days on end.
Here in New Zealand some years ago, I collected several large pieces of driftwood of one of our local beaches. When I was unloading them off the back of our ute, 2 of the pieces had katipo spiders in them! So those pieces went elsewhere very fast. NEVER had I thought katipo were even here let alone in driftwood! 🙂 Just saying.
Gina Luker says
Oh my!! That would be a scary discovery!
Tsampika Mpotsi says
Hello from Rhodes island,Greece. Thanks for all the usefull information!I collect sea shells,sea glasses and of course,driftwood.Is the cleaning method ,the same for sea driftwood,? Thanks!!!
Gina Luker says
Yes it is, our driftwood is from the ocean which is also salt water 🙂
Love the simplicity of this! Anything beachy and textural makes me smile. Thanks for sharing!
Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage says
Gorgeous Gina!! 🙂
Rene @ cottage and vine says
Oh yay! I collect drift wood from the New River and I love your idea! Thanks for the inspiration.
What a great idea, I to love driftwood. i am going to have to try this one.
Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says
I had two great pieces of driftwood at one time and placed them in a gardening bed to add some interest. Their size and shape really added a nice touch.
On a side note, just wondering if the match-ups for the swap will be coming out soon. We’re leaving on a week’s vacation Sunday.
we do this, too!
Darling! love that look!
Great idea. Love the beachy theme.
Trudy Callan says
I love bringing nature into the home. Such a simple and beautiful way to beautify one’s home. Thank you.
What a great idea! I am very lucky to be a constant beachcomber and have used lots of driftwood for lots of projects,but I really like how you simply put the prettiest pieces in a clear hurricane vase for display.
so pretty…I never thought about doing all that bleaching and baking to kill stuff!!! Hmmmm, I wonder …..I just wonder what might be lurking in my home?
I’m with Heidi and nannykim above – never thought about cleaning it! Good idea!! 🙂 We had some seashells from a trip to florida that I decorated with a while back…had to soak those babies a lot to get the stink out! 🙂
How clever! I wouldn’t have thought of bleaching it either -woops.
laurie @ bargain hunting says
Now that is smart! It looks great in the hurricane. laurie
I love this idea of decorating with ‘driftwood’. I wouldn’t have thought of bleaching and baking it, though. I am really beginning to love decorating with simple things from nature. Last year, while we were on vacation at a cabin in the woods, I collected some large bird feathers in the yard and stones and scaly sticks. I put them in an apothecary jar in our bedroom to remind us of that wonderful time. I can’t wait to gather more this year – and maybe some ‘drift wood’ to add to it!
You just never know do you! Treasures abound everywhere! I’ll have to ask my mom in Florida to keep an eye out. Jennifer jennsthreegraces
fun, earthy look. I just posted about a very chic beach house that had a lot of natural elements as home accessories. love your idea!
What a fabulous idea! I can’t wait to make me some faux driftwood! 🙂 Filed at thecraftersfilebox.com.
Just a tip/note, from a museum point of view; when I worked in the archives section for a few museums back in the day, we treated old fabrics, textiles, wood and other items donated old/use by putting them into a chester freezer or in the side freezer for up to 2 days… this will kill off any bugs/critters and it will avoid any unnecessary bleaching/staining that might discolor the wood.
Is there a certain temp this should be in? Love this idea because it doesn’t discolor and less sanitizing time means you can use it sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing.
Lee.. thanks for the tip.
Thanks so much for this info. I have looked for advice on doing this in the past and couldn’t find anything!
Doreen Slusser says
I have always wanted a large piece of drift wood in the entry of my home. How would you clean this? I want it to stand up and insert drift wood pegs made of driftwood.
Gina Luker says
If it’s too large to soak you might just have to gently hose it off and use a brush to remove any sand or dirt.
I bet you could soak it in a bath tub!
Gina Luker says
You could…but then you would have to clean the bathtub 🙂
THe cold Ohio winter may work just as good as a freezer for my Lake Erie drift wood… good tips
Gina Luker says
Thanks Deb, I bet it gets chilly!!
I have a piece of wood we found on the beach in March. It’s a piece of plank off of a pier, sea wall, or someone’s porch after the last hurricane season. Who knows where it came from but I want to use it to make a decorative piece for our bedroom. Can you tell me how to clean it?
Gina Luker says
Hi Jeanette, I would use the same method I described in this post for cleaning driftwood 🙂
YIKES, 2 Cups of bleach?! Was that a mistype? It only takes 2 Tablespoons to sanitize anything. Small pieces of driftwood can go in the microwave for a few short seconds.
I am a nurse and an avid beachcomer and nature lover. I cannot imagine why you need to ‘sanitize’ driftwood. It is bad for the environment to bleach anything. One of the things I look about driftwood is the natural patina it gets from being tossed in the salt water and lying in the sun. Please decrease your use of chemicals.
Andrea Reynolds says
I just love your bio! Your hilarious and I’m sure we’d be good friends! Just wanted to drop a line to say hi and encourage you! Have a great day!
Gina Luker says
Aww thanks so much Andrea, you are so sweet. Come by anytime I also do a lot of Lives on Facebook 🙂
CAR REBER says
My old-growth branches are upwards of 15 feet. Might make some cat trees one day. I have not seen signs of Insects on any, but another way to kill bugs is to wrap dry articles (airtight) in black plastic and place them in the sun for a few days. Use a thermometer if you like. Not many things can survive 200 plus degrees for long. If you have bedbugs put your linens, etc. In plastic bags in a closed car in the sun. One sunny day will roast those bad boys!
If I want to keep the color of the driftwood the way it was found, that means no bleach. If it soaks in distilled water for two weeks, will it lose the color as well? To keep the color, is it best to just brush and hose off? Or is there another way to disinfect? Vinegar? Less than 5 days?
Gina Luker says
Hi Katty, I don’t know as this is the only method I’ve tried, check on Youtube they something on everything, LOL good luck!