How to Clean Driftwood for Aquarium

Driftwood cleaning and sanitization are necessary before installing it into a tank. It helps to maintain the tank’s hygienic conditions. Once you follow a complete procedure about how to clean driftwood in aquariums, discussed below, you can confidently decorate your tank with the wood.

Additionally, at the end of the article, there is an interesting topic about how to clean driftwood for reptiles.
how to clean driftwood

Driftwood Cleaning and Sanitizing

Driftwood is among the most used decorative and habitat-building items in aquascape. They are natural and carry numerous living and non-living objects with them. They should be cleaned and sanitized for the following reasons.

Remove salts and minerals To avoid fungal and bacterial threats in the tank To keep your tank safe from pesticides and other pollutants
To avoid mold and mildew To avoid insects and larvae in your tank

Is There a Biofilm on New Wood for the Aquarium?

Ideally, there shouldn’t be a biofilm on new wood before installing it in a tank. If the driftwood already carries a biofilm, it will be harmful to the tank and aqua pets.

However, after proper cleaning and installing it into a tank, a biofilm of bacteria, algae, microorganisms, and fungi naturally develops around it. This living colony consumes wood nutrients until it completely dies. This newly developed biofilm is beneficial for the tank environment and has no harmful impact on the fish.
clean driftwood in aquariums

How to Clean Driftwood in Aquariums?

Driftwood usually comes in two sizes, i.e., large and small. Both have a bit different cleaning methods. Large driftwood pieces require more cleaning effort than small pieces. Here is the procedure to clean both types of driftwood.

Soak in Fresh Water

Take driftwood pieces and soak them in fresh water for at least 2 days. During this, change the water after each 2 to 8 hours, i.e., earlier, it’ll be 2 hours, and later on, set a frequency of 8 hours.


Bleach the driftwood by soaking it in 1/10 volume weak bleach solution. You can also make this solution by adding 3 tablespoon bleach to one-gallon water. Soak it for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rinse the wood with hot water. Use regular bleach instead of cotton bleach or something else.


Boil them in water for 20 minutes. It’ll kill all malicious bacteria. For long driftwood pieces, you can put them in a large bucket and pour boiling water on them until it is completely submerged. You can put small pieces in the water-fill vessel and boil the vessel on the stove. It’ll kill pathogens and also remove the tannins.


There is a discussion about whether boiling or backing is good for driftwood cure. However, it’s better to initially boil the wood to remove tannins and then bake it to remove toxic sap and oils from the driftwood. Put your driftwood pieces for 1 hour in the oven at 200°F.


Usually, freezing slows down the bacteria and fungi growth present in the wood. Therefore, it’s better to freeze the wood for at least 14 days at 0 degrees centigrade. After freezing, you need to maintain the temperature in your tank, as any temperature increase reactivates the bacteria and fungi.

Scrub the Surface

Scrub the driftwood surface with a stiff nylon-bristled brush. Pressurized nozzle water is another cleaning option to remove salts or any other possible debris from the raw driftwood.


Dry the driftwood until it completely releases the water from the pores. Tap water is usually chlorinated. Chlorine is a gas, which removed from the pores while drying under the sun. Therefore, it’s even more necessary to dry the wooden pieces. You can check the dryness with weight difference.

How to Remove Black Berd Alage (BBA)?

Black berd algae take time to establish. After establishment, it causes problems for driftwood. However, you can remove it with the help of Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solution. Rinse the algae with water and dip the driftwood or spray it with hydrogen peroxide for 3 minutes. It’ll take time, i.e., 6 to 8 months, to remove. The algae will turn pink and then die off.
driftwood cleaning

Cleaning Driftwood for Reptiles

Cleaning of driftwood for reptiles takes the same procedure as tank aquascape wood. However, the only difference is the bleaching. For aquariums, it takes 10 minutes, while the reptile takes 24 hours. If some part of the large wood is outside the solution, then soak it into bleach water after 12 hours by turning it upside down.

Dry the wood in the sun for 5 to 7 days. However, it can vary according to your location. After cleaning, remove the sharp edges with sandpaper to avoid any threat to your pet reptiles. Place the wood in your reptile tank and enjoy your reptile play.

Final Thoughts

Driftwood is superb for decorating and creating a natural environment in any tank, landscape, and aquascaping. Whether small or large, you need to clean them before installing. Follow the above-mentioned complete procedure to avoid any catastrophe in the tank.

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