Jun 3 2021
How to Bleach Wood Furniture
Post by sara albers

Check out our latest DIY furniture obsession! We are here to show you how to bleach wood furniture to get a driftwood or natural wood look. 

wood bleach table

I don’t know about you, but I love the look of natural driftwood finish on wood furniture. It is timeless and can mix well with any color and tones that you have in your home. It gives a neutral warm feeling, don’t you think? 

This bleached wood side table is our latest DIY adventure for hunker.com. We used a cherry wood side table and transformed it into this beautiful light wood accent table! 

We kind of have a thing for side tables – remember the fluted side table we made!? Or this tiled one?!

3 types of wood bleach

  1. Regular household bleach – good ol’ clorox can can remove the stain color of wood but cannot effectively change the color of darker woods. Regular household bleach can work well with already lighter colored wood
  2. Oxalic acid can remove stains (like water and rust) and lighter wood. It typically comes in a powder form and you mix it with hot water. It is typically used with wood workers trying to get a more uniform color before re-staining a piece of wood furniture. You are to use it on bare wood only. 
  3. “Two part” A/B peroxide-based bleaches – this type of wood bleach comes with two bottles that you apply with gloves and sponges. They are sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and hydrogen peroxide. Using both chemicals causes a  chemical reaction that removes the color from a previous stain or wood color.

light wood side table

How to Bleach Wood Furniture

Here are a few tips when bleaching wood furniture:

  • Prep the wood first! This means you have to strip the furniture that has a varnish or thick stain. I used Citrus Strip.
  • You will want to make sure after stripping and cleaning wood that you wipe down with mineral spirits/water mix and let dry completely. 
  • Use a good power sander! And use good chemical resistant gloves when stripping and bleaching wood. 
  • Use a vinegar/water mix in between bleaching. You can do the bleaching process multiple times if you are using a darker wood (like in my case cherry wood). This will neutralize the wood between bleaching. 
  • The best wood types for bleaching are oak, beech and ash. Typically the darker the wood, the harder it is to bleach. I used an antique cherry wood table and did the bleaching process three times to get the light driftwood color I was going for! 

bleached wood furniture

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