How To Clean Driftwood For Aquarium – Detailed Guide For 3 Driftwood Sizes

Driftwood is a common piece of decoration when it comes to aquariums. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it could also serve as a playground and hiding spot for your aquatic animals. Hence, most aquarists opt for this addition when setting up their tank.

But are you familiar with how to clean driftwood for aquarium yet? Without proper care, chances are your driftwood will not retain its quality. Keep reading to see how you can get this done!

How To Clean Driftwood For Aquarium (3 Sizes)

Each driftwood requires a different approach when it comes to cleaning. Below are detailed instructions on how to effectively clean driftwood of all sizes.

Small driftwood

small driftwood

The easiest way to clean small-sized driftwood is to boil the entire thing in hot water. If you can afford it, find a pot large enough to contain all your pieces of driftwood. Next up, fill it with water and slowly let the driftwood inside.

Now, you will need to wait for the water to boil, and then let the driftwood remain in its place for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Notice how the water slowly turns brown, as tannin released from the wood is making its way inside the water.

After a while, your driftwood would seem bleached and much more appealing than its previous state. And rest assured that during the boiling process, your driftwood is also cleansed of any toxin buildup and unwanted parasites. These include algae, fungi, and other types of bacteria.

After boiling the driftwood, make sure to clean it one final time under running water. This helps to eliminate all residue on the surface, making your driftwood more desirable for the fish.

Big driftwood

As for bigger pieces of driftwood, chances are you cannot fit them all inside a boiling pot. In case you still insist on using high temperatures to cleanse the driftwood, you may want to take your time boiling one side of the driftwood first.

Once it is already bleached and the water starts turning brown, flip to the other side and wait for it to be boiled thoroughly. Granted, this may take you quite a while, but it is indeed a useful approach for cleaning driftwood.


Another way for you to clean driftwood is to take care of the external surface first. This includes using a toothbrush to get rid of germs and microorganisms stuck in the crevices.

Next up, use a piece of sandpaper to sand your surface. This helps you to smoothen the driftwood and makes it easier for other bleaching agents to seep through.

Using a mixture of water and baking soda is a highly recommended cleaning solution should you want your driftwood to be more hygienic. First off, make sure you have a container large enough for your pieces.

baking soda

Then, slowly mix baking soda and hot water until the former dissolves completely. Keep your driftwood soaked there for at least two days before removal.

Last but not least, should your driftwood seem to have too many crevices and require a thorough cleaning, consider using a bleaching solution. Not many people enjoy resorting to such an aggressive cleaning method, but it cannot be denied that bleaching agents are highly effective.

A mixture of distilled water and roughly 3-4 spoons of bleaching agents would suffice to sterilize your driftwood. Your driftwood should stay inside the solution for around 15 minutes to more than an hour depending on the size.

Rest assured that once the procedure is finished, your driftwood will be good as new.


Do I have to boil driftwood for the aquarium?

Not really. On the one hand, boiling driftwood for aquariums is proven to be the cheapest and most efficient way for aquarists to get rid of any germs and bacteria lingering on driftwood’s surfaces.

But that said, boiling is not the only way to go. There are plenty of cleaning alternatives, including baking soda, bleaching agents, and even sandpaper. Feel free to pick something that best fits your driftwood and how you would like to perform the process.

Can I use baking soda to clean driftwood?

Yes. In your kitchen cabinet, nothing beats baking soda when it comes to versatility. By mixing baking soda with hot water, you are sure to be able to cleanse your driftwood without much fuss.

How long does driftwood last in a fish tank?

Generally speaking, an average piece of driftwood will be able to stay the same for at least 5 years. However, most of them will show signs of deterioration merely 2 years after being placed inside the water.

Thus, if you sense that your driftwood needs replacement, do not hesitate and do it as soon as possible. Leaving decaying driftwood is one of the reasons why your tank’s water is polluted.

What are the disadvantages of having driftwood in your aquarium?

The most noticeable downside of having driftwood in your aquarium is its ability to turn the water brown. While this color is not indicative of pollution or dirt, having brown water may not be as appealing as pristine water. Furthermore, it may obstruct certain sights, especially if your fish are not vibrant-looking.

The second disadvantage of having driftwood is that it will lower the pH level. This is due to the release of tannin, which tampers with your tank’s water metrics.


Learning how to clean driftwood for aquarium is easy enough once you get to know the most effective cleaning approaches. Make sure to apply these tips and tricks right away and see how they might be helpful for your tank!