How to clean wood to prevent termites?

by Donna

I have a few wooden planters and enjoy using salvaged wood such as pallets or logs in my décor. I was recently made aware that I am inviting termites into my home. Is there a way to clean and seal these pieces to prevent termites?

  12 answers
  • Robin H Robin H on Oct 11, 2013

    When I repainted some kitchen cabinetry I used T.S.P. and it cleaned REALLY well, all the grease, grime, and dirt wiped right off. If the wood you find is black or greasy, I'd definitely try the T.S.P. before putting it inside your home.

    Pressure washing works, but it can embed dirt into the wood instead of getting it off the wood.

    Sanding will help "clean" it up too.

    I'd definitely look at putting PURE Tung Oil, which is non-toxic, on the pieces before putting them inside the house - this will help protect them and also brings out the color and grain of the wood.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 18, 2013

    I would be cautious about any termite treatment if you are going to use those planters for growing food.

  • Keep in mind all wood that has contact with soil has the potential to attract termites. Pressure-treated wood is typically resistant to termites. I would recommend placing some cement bricks underneath the planters so the wood doesn't come in contact with the soil.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 27, 2016

    I would recommend drying the wood out prior to bringing it into the house.

  • Sharon Sharon on Nov 05, 2017

    All wood should be seasoned off the ground and turned over periodically to prevent checking (cracking). Than to protect it you could use bar top epoxy pour to give them a real resistant finish.

  • Larry wallace Larry wallace on Sep 03, 2017

    I don't know how big these pieces are but if you are concerned that there may be termites in them buy some large trash bags or a couple of plastic drop cloths and contain the wood in the plastic. Spray a good bug killer inside the plastic and leave it for 24 hrs. As for covering the wood to preserve it use a good clear wood spray coating like polyurethane in a flat or satin luster. Make sure the wood is clean by brushing with a soft-bristle paintbrush or a scrub brush before applying the polyurethane.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 13, 2022

    Take items outside and paint and spray with Woodworm liquid or termite killer, so you will kill any eggs etc in the timber.

  • Use a borate-based wood sealer.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 11, 2022

    Buy a kit!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 11, 2022

    Have you considered switching to plastic planters?

    You can also seal with termite resistant sealer, Home Depot or Lowes would carry these.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jul 16, 2022

    Hello, hope this helps you out, Mixing a little bit of borax and water and throwing it into a spray bottle is a great way to spray the wood for bugs. It will not only kill any insects that are currently living in the wood, but it will also prevent any new bugs from taking refuge in your reclaimed wood.

  • Stephie McCarthy Stephie McCarthy on May 05, 2023

    We have Bora-Care liquid for log timbers and very old wood construction near the ground. It's pricey at $89 a gallon. BUT, if I just needed something quick and not that expensive, I would probably use Behr Waterproofing Transparent sealer which you can get by the quart at HomeDepot for around $30. The wood we've used this on has not been troubled by bugs, but should be repainted every two years. You could also use copper tape around the bottom of your planters. It's a lot less expensive, available on Amazon, and is frequently used at the bottom of decks on lumber that is in contact with the ground. The tape will weather down to look more like aged copper.