How to Bleach Reclaimed Wood

What You'll Need
Chlorine bleach
Bucket with water
Rubber gloves
Cheap paint brush
Orbital sander (optional but highly recommended)
Dry towels or rags

If you have old reclaimed wood that was used in a previous project or structure, you can use the wood to create a new wooden project piece or use it in an addition or remodel job. If the reclaimed wood has difficult to remove stains, such as rust stains, water and weather stains or almost any other type stain, you can use a homemade bleaching solution to remove them. Bleaching reclaimed wood will also help to lighten the grain color of the wood and prepare it for painting or staining. This easy-to-follow how-to-guide will teach you how to do it. Let's get started.

Step 1 - Sand the Wood

Take the orbital sander and sandpaper and sand the entire surface of the reclaimed wood to be bleached. You don't really need to try to sand off all of the finish, but you do need to try to smooth out the wood as much as possible and remove the tops of any very dark stains.

Step 2 - Mix the Bleach Solution

Create your homemade wood bleaching solution by adding equal amounts of chlorine bleach and lukewarm water. Make sure the water is not too hot as this will cause the bleach to quickly evaporate from the solution.

Step 3 - Apply the Bleach Solution to the Wood

Use the cheap paintbrush to start applying the bleach solution to the wood. Don't be afraid of applying too much of the bleach mixture to the wood, and apply the solution with hard long strokes. This will help to work the solution into the wood as you apply it.

Step 4 - Allow Bleach to Set In

Allow the bleach and water solution to sit on the reclaimed wood for about 10 to 15 minutes before continuing with the next application.

Step 5 - Re-Apply Bleach Solution as Needed

Depending upon how bad the stains on the reclaimed wood are, or how much you want to lighten the wood grain color of the wood, you may need to apply several applications of the bleach and water solution. Remember to let the solution set about 10 or 15 minutes between each application. As the chlorine bleach water solution sets into the wood, you will notice that the color starts to gradually change and lighten. So, if you apply the solution too quickly, it could result in a wood grain color that is too light or not to your liking.

Step 6 - Rinse the Wood

Once you have finished bleaching the reclaimed wood, rinse out the bucket. Then take the bucket and fill it with lukewarm and slowly pour the water over the surface of the reclaimed wood to remove any remnants of the chlorine bleach.

Step 7 - Allow to Dry

Set the reclaimed wood out in the sun and allow it to thoroughly dry before using the wood. In some cases, it takes it take several days or even a couple of weeks for the wood to fully cure and dry.