What's your favorite chemical to clean wood

What chemical do you prefer and why, Percabonate, Sodium hydroxide, Bleach…?

Is it ok to use only percabonate or sodium hydroxide if there is no mold ?


Depends. If cleaning previously stained wood, either to just get the dirt off, a 1.5% bleach/soap mix is good or used for just straight cleaning and prep for a maintenance staining using the same stain.

If it is non stained exterior wood with little to no mold/mildew, a sodium percarbonate mix at 6 - 8 oz./gal. works well. Follow up with a light acid brightener to neutralize and lighten the coloration.

On raw wood, on occasion we’ll do a bleach cleaning, followed by sodium percarbonate cleaning and then an acid wash.

Sodium hydroxide is for stripping existing stain, it has no cleaning power. Kind of like hitting a thumb tack with a framing hammer. Might as well “clean” with just water and pressure and save your customer the chemical expense. And can beat up the wood at higher concentrations.


My chemicals are the same as Rick’s. As far as brands, I love EFC-38 (percarb) and HD-80 (stripper)

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I have used bleach before but I mixed it up too strong and I didn’t like the results

I was asking for sodium hydroxide because of this video

There is another video from this guy, where he makes a comparison on staining 2 pieces of wood, one that has been cleaned with bleach and the other with another chemical. The result is far better with the wood who has not been bleached.

We use SH(sodium hydroxide) & Oxalic acid on most wood jobs which works good for us… But I’ll never put my guys in the class of Rick Petry when it comes to wood expertise.