How to Clean and Prepare Recycled Timber Panels

I’m sure you’re already aware that recycled timber is awesome it’s a great way to add character into your space and once in a while you can use some new wood in order to replicate the look, however it’s darn near impossible to replicate the history and feeling you get from a good piece of recycled timber. Today we’re gonna share a couple different tips on how to go about cleaning recycled timber and there’s a couple different reasons you might want to do that.

Number one is you may want to get rid of all the dirt and grime that’s built up on the wood and then number two is you want to make sure that all the pasture bugs that are living inside it are dead and that they don’t come back in the future. So I’m going to show you how we went about cleaning that would specifically however before we did that we wanted to share with you a couple different options that you may want to consider.


One of the easiest ways to feel confident in bringing your recycled timber into your home, is by having it kiln dried. Some places where you go and actually purchase your recycled timber they’ll have a kiln on location and they’ll might have already actually dried the wood that you picked up. A kiln is is basically an oven for wood and they take the timber and put it inside generally heating it to ranges of about a hundred and forty degrees though that temperature does vary depending on the wood thickness, humidity in the air and moisture in the timber.

The point of using the kiln is to remove the moisture that’s inside the timber, however since they’re heating it so high it actually ends up sanitizing the recycled timber and killing off any bugs or pests that may be living inside. While it won’t clean the wood to the look that you’re necessarily going for, it will have it sanitized and ready to be brought inside. So, if you find yourself picking up a piece of really clean wood that has been kiln dried, and it doesn’t quite look the way you want it to or doesn’t have the patina that you’re going for, you may have a little bit more work to do.

If your recycled timber hasn’t been kiln dried and you’re looking for it to be, you can call around to say your local sawmills or timber yards, because they may have a kiln on site. The problem with that is that it can get kind of expensive, and if you have a small batch sometimes they won’t even process it. That’s primarily because within the kiln when they put the wood in sometimes that wood needs to be in there for quite a long time, say weeks or months and they only like to do it in large batches.

Timber milling

Another professional service to consider is getting the wood milled down. There’s a couple different reasons that you might want to take this approach. Number one is that if you’re not using both or all four sides of the wood by milling it down, you’re going to eliminate a lot of the cleaning that you would have to do by having now to only do one side versus two or four. Another reason you may want to do this, is to conserve weight.

All of our recycled timber projects that we’ve used in the caravan, have been milled down and that’s primarily to make the wood lighter. If you want to lower the amount of cleaning you have to do or the weight of your wood getting it milled down before you move on would be a great idea. Now that doesn’t help with bugs or anything like that however we’ll get into more about handling that shortly.

Pressure wash

Now that we have the professional options out of the way, let’s go ahead and touch on some options you can do from home in order to get that recycled timber ready to go into your house or caravan. Another great option for cleaning is pressure washing . This isn’t going to help with your bug situation, however it will get it clean and get all that dirt and grime off of your wood. It is really important that if you are going to be pressure washing recycled timber that you stay probably about a foot away with your pressure washer and keep it on its lowest setting. That’s primarily because you don’t want to destroy the wood and – if you’re trying to keep the patina of it you don’t want to end up pressure washing that off as well.

Let’s say that you have a smaller project you’re trying to tackle well so you don’t think you need a pressure washer let’s go ahead and dive into another option that may help you out  so one of the most cost-effective ways to go ahead and get your recycled timber all cleaned up is using nothing however a hose a nozzle a bristle brush and a container filled with soapy water. This is exactly what we did for our recycled timber project that we’re working on.

I couldn’t find my nozzle when we started, so what I had to do is use my thumb and create a poor-man’s pressure washer. I went ahead and sprayed down the wood on all sides and then after that I grabbed my bristle brush with the soapy water and went ahead to scrubbing and I scrubbed all around the wood let it set for a couple minutes and then came back with my poor man’s pressure washing rinse the wood all down.

This is a cost-effective yet labor-intensive way of getting the recycled timber all cleaned out. One thing to note here and this goes for the pressure washing as well, is this version of washing and that’s that if you’re going to be taking this approach you’re probably going to want to look at the weather, especially if your woods going to be outside and that’s because for this we kind of recommend that it has at least a couple days to air dry after you get done washing it so you want to make sure that you don’t have rain immediately in the forecast.


Let’s pretend for a minute that you have some recycled timber that’s already killed dried or you’re just not too concerned about really deep cleaning it like the pressure washer and the bristle brush would do you can try a couple different options one is using a steamer and you go over the wood with the steam it does a great job at disinfecting and even raising up a little the dirt and grime that may be stuck on there.

It’s not as labor-intensive or as deep of a cleaning you could also go ahead and use say a wire brush and scrub along and then that’s gonna get rid of a lot of the loose line dirt and things like that and then even if you don’t want to go that route if you just want to give it a hand sanding to kind of clean it up and get it freshened up so that you can put it where you want it those are options that you could also take as well.

Now that we’ve talked about a couple different ways to clean up the wood let’s go ahead and talk about a couple different options for making sure there’s no bugs in there and you prevent them from coming back now that our woods all cleaned up it’s time to move on to making sure we don’t have bugs and that we don’t get them in the future and one of the most popular options out there is using chemical cleaners. They work by being either sprayed on or painted on and sinks into the wood and kills any bugs or pests that are in there.

Home oven options

There’s a couple other options we wanted to mention that actually don’t require any application and that’s using your oven. We’ve actually used this one quite a few times because we make Christmas ornaments out of wood slices and what we’ll do is we’ll set the oven to the lowest possible temperature and then we put them on our pan making sure that none of the wood slices are touching or touching anything around them and then we just keep a close eye on it as it’s in there and essentially what it’s doing is acting like a miniature kiln.

Just like with the washing and pressure washing of the wood you’re going to want to make sure that the forecast is working in your favor especially if you’re doing this project outside because after you add your borax solution you’re gonna want to make sure that you have a couple days for the sunlight to really dry out the world so I really hope this information has been helpful for you guys especially if you’re looking to clean up or get bugs out of some of your recycled timber before you use it your home.

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