Can You Use Bleach on Wood

Can You Use Bleach on Wood? Tips and Guides

Whether you’re cleaning a wooden floor or you want to get rid of moss on a wooden bench, you may have wondered “Can you use bleach on wood?”  The thing with wood is that it is not as solid as you may think. Wood is naturally porous and thus, using bleach to clean and remove moss may not do the trick. Bleach may only be effective in disinfecting the surface of the wood but will not penetrate the wood’s natural pores.

So, is bleach good for wood? The answer depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to disinfect wooden floors, stairs, and furniture then you can use bleach to do so but you may end up weakening wood as bleach can eventually damage it. If you want to remove moss, bleach won’t cut it.

Do not use bleach on wood

Bleach is very harsh and despite being widely accepted in cleaning and disinfecting all kinds of surfaces, it may not be great for all types of applications. Bleach can cause wood to fade and deteriorate. It can cause discoloration of wood’s beautiful natural or painted surface.

Some cleaning specialists say that using bleach may depend on the wooden furniture’s age. You may still be able to use bleach in very mild concentrations but it’s always best to just avoid using bleach altogether.

Take note of some exceptions

There are times when only bleach and remove heavy stains like in the case of heavy black watermarks on dark wood. You can use a small amount of bleach and water. Apply the solution to the black marks little by little using a soft clean cloth. As soon as the marks disappear, use a clean dry cloth or some paper towels to wipe the area dry. Follow up with a clean cloth.

You can use bleach IF you dilute it with water. The right ratio will not be as harsh as pure bleach and will remove dirt and disinfect but will never ruin the wood’s finish. Dilute bleach with water by mixing about a half cup of bleach with a gallon of water. This amount will do if you want to wipe wooden furniture clean or your wooden floors.

In a bucket, mix the bleach and water solution. Use a clean mop to wipe the floor. Wash the floor with plain water and soap; let this mixture sit up to 10 minutes. Next, use a mop and wipe the floor with the bleach and water solution. Rinse with plain water and just air dry. Open doors and windows to let air in to dry your wooden floors. If you’re cleaning wooden furniture, take the furniture out and wash it with water and then water + bleach solution under the sun. Let the piece of wooden furniture dry completely before placing it back indoors.

Try it out first

Sometimes, even if you dilute bleach in water, it can still discolor wooden furniture. Wood, the way it’s stained, painted, and its natural qualities, differ from one another. You may find that a good bleach + water surface cleaning for a wooden dining table works but your wooden cabinet won’t stand it. And because of this, you should take extra care. If you want to clean a new surface, apply the bleach + water solution on a small, hidden area first. If you don’t notice any staining or color changes, go for it, but do so cautiously as well.

Applying bleach to wood safely

Can you use bleach on wood? Bleach releases fumes that can irritate the eyes and nose. You can easily pass out if you don’t act quickly. So when using bleach on wood, make sure that you’re working in a well-ventilated area. If you can, open a door or window or use a fan. If you’re working on a piece of furniture, take it out and clean it outdoors.

If you’re removing mold, moss, or any questionable residue on wood, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles. Don’t let splatter enter your eye. If there’s stinging, rinse your eyes with running water.

Use these instead of bleach

Bleach is toxic and should be altogether avoided when it comes to cleaning wood. It may be used on tiles, cement, glass, and other surfaces to disinfect and remove stains but there’s a better, healthier way to deal with wood.

Vinegar + water solution

Vinegar in equal parts of water will also help clean wood. It is the second-best alternative to bleach as vinegar is also capable of bleaching wood but only minimally. Vinegar can kill bacteria, fungi, and mold plus will leave the area sweet/sour-smelling. As a precaution, apply the vinegar and water solution to a small area first before proceeding.

Steam is another alternative

Steam mops are popular when it comes to cleaning wooden floors, tile floors, natural stone floors, and carpets. Steam loosens dirt, oil, grime, and stuck residue and can clean deeply too. You’re not using any kind of chemical here so there’s nothing that can harm your health. Use a steam mop which is available in most home centers. Just fill the mop with hot water and off you go. Remember to air dry your floors.

Use soap + water

The old soap and water technique works best. Use mild soap, dishwashing soap, or Murphy’s Oil Soap with water. Mop the wooden floor or use a soft clean sponge to clean wooden furniture. Leave the solution on the arear and rinse clean. Let the area air dry. Make sure that there are no moist spots to avoid mold or mildew. 

Can you use bleach on wood? Bleach is harmful to wood and degrades wood’s natural fibers over time. It is also damaging to health. If you must use bleach, dilute it and use it minimally. Use alternatives as there are many products and techniques better than bleach in cleaning and disinfecting wood. Consider all these and you’ll get wood cleaning and disinfecting tasks done quickly and safely.



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