Cleaning old barn wood

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Confession. I have a semi-obsessive adoration for all things old and curious. I love digging for beautiful things in discarded piles, or turning beautiful old things into new useful items in our home. Two of my best friends and I spent many a Sunday laughing, digging and loving our way through brocantes (flea markets) in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands a few years ago. Some of my most cherished memories of our time overseas!! And another dear friend and I have spent many hours cautiously but enthusiastically combing through piles of old barn wood here in Colorado, and recreating beauty with discarded things. Anyone with me?

Why clean vintage items?

One problem with old, beautiful things, is with age comes dirt, dust, and other questionable items (bugs!). So what do I do when I’ve found a lovely item covered in a layer of dirt and grime? Clean it up, sister! So easy! And you’ll be shocked at how it allows for even more beauty to shine through, without destroying the integrity.

Cleaning old barn wood, specifically, is more simple than you would imagine. Just a two step process for most items. I use a product from natural-based company. I love how gentle this product is on my skin. No need to worry about tearing up my hands or wearing a ton of protective gear. I even feel comfortable in letting my daughters use it as well!

We use 2 Tbsp of this cleaner concentrate in a bucket of warm water. You heard that right: 2 tablespoons in a BUCKET. Then, we use either a sponge or a scrub brush depending on the desired elbow grease needed, and caution needed for protecting finishes. Use a scrub brush and watch the grime wash away and the beauty shine through. Who else needs a tee shirt that says ‘I love wood grain’?

We prefer to tackle these projects on a sunny day. Once the wood item has been scrubbed, we rinse with more clean water, and allow to dry in a warm, well-ventilated space. Voila!

Nothing better than finding a beautiful old piece of barn wood that just needs a little love and cleaning to make it a cherished item in your home.  Just a couple simple ingredients, and you’ll be able to transform and preserve beauties in a snap.


2 Tbsp Cleaner Concentrate (find it here)

Bucket of warm water

Second clean, bucket of water


Set the items to be cleaned in a warm, sunny spot.  Add two tablespoons of cleaner concentrate to a bucket of warm water.  Stir until sudsy.  Use either a scrub brush, or a bit of steel wool to dip into the water mixture and scrub with the grain of the wood.  Scrub well, and rise with clean water.  Continue until grime and dust is gone.  Leave in the sun to dry.  Once dry, you can sand with light grain sand paper to finish it a bit.

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