Should I Treat Woodworm with Home Remedies?

30 April 2024

Woodworm is a major problem in the UK, with the tiny beetles being responsible for all kinds of timber damage and decay throughout the UK. With that in mind, you can see why anybody who might discover woodworm living in their property would look for home remedies to eliminate them from their timber.

In this article we are going to look at the actual effectiveness of some of the most popular home remedies for woodworm, and if they actually work in the long term.

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What Are Common Home Remedy Ideas for Woodworm?

Technician applying woodworm treatment

When it comes to woodworm there are plenty of rumours through the UK on home brewed solutions, that supposedly kill the woodworm easily and quickly. However, just because these solutions are popular does not mean that they are effective.

White vinegar, WD40, bleach, and other DIY woodworm treatments might well be suggested to you – but they may not be the best solution to protect your timber, and stop the spread of woodworm throughout your property.

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Can White Vinegar Get Rid of Woodworm?

A technician in a boiler suit, hardhat and gas mask applying woodworm spray to timbers in loft

White vinegar is a great cleaning solution, and is invaluable when it comes to stains and smells – but it might not be the best when it comes to a lasting woodworm treatment.

You may well find it recommended to mix a solution of white vinegar and water, and apply this to the effected timber.

However, this is only going to irritate the woodworm larvae inside your timber, not kill them. The larvae will either just burrow out of the timber, or burrow deeper inside the timber where the vinegar and water solution won’t bother them.

Essentially, as a topical application white vinegar isn’t going to soak into the timber, so we can assume that a coating of the vinegar on the surface will only drive the larvae out, or deeper within the timber itself.

Sadly, because it doesn’t kill the larvae it’s entirely possible that they could continue to ruin the timber from the inside, or even spread to other timber if allowed.

You also have to consider the fact that white vinegar is acidic. There is a chance that once applied to your furniture the vinegar could have a corrosive effect on the timber, potentially ruining the look of the wood.

Essentially, we advise that you avoid white vinegar as a woodworm treatment, as its not lasting, not penetrative, not a permanent solution, and potentially damaging to your furniture.

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Can WD40 Kill Woodworm?

woodworm treatment being carried out on a church roof


WD40 is one of the most versatile tools in your toolbox, and you would be forgiven for thinking that it might even help eradicate woodworm.

However, we would not recommend it as a tool for woodworm treatment. First off, WD40’s primary purpose is water displacement, and whilst yes, a direct spray on top of woodworm larvae or a fully grown woodworm beetle is likely to kill the insect in question, it would have to be direct.

Sadly, this makes effective treatment of the woodworm that might be spreading through your timber quite difficult.

Plus, you have to consider the properties of WD40. First off, it is an irritant, so it has every chance of having an effect on you or anyone else in the property if they are exposed to high levels of WD40 on timber, or even just the particles in the air.

Then you have to consider that WD40 is in fact, an inflammable liquid. This means it is considerably dangerous if sprayed anywhere even marginally near an open flame, then you run the significant risk of a fire breaking out.

Basically, WD40 does not hold the properties we would consider necessary to properly treat woodworm in any timber, and we strongly recommend that you do not use WD40 for this purpose.

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Can Bleach Treat Woodworm?

Closeup of woodworm exit holes on a piece of affected timber

There are some people who might approach woodworm with bleach, thinking that a pure bleach application, or even an application of bleach mixed with water will be a good solution.

Realistically, this is a dangerous and ill-advised course of action.

Firstly, the bleach fumes pose a threat in unventilated spaces, as does the risk of the bleach contaminating and warping the timber, as well as damaging other furniture or elements in the room if it were to drip.

There is also the hazard of the bleach being touched or ingested by pets or young children, essentially making this a completely unsafe and not recommended solution.

As to whether bleach would kill woodworm: yes, of course it would, bleach is incredibly toxic, however, it is not a treatment that can penetrate the timber properly, so it might only kill a few adult woodworm at the surface of the timber if they were to come into contact with it soon after its application.

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How Should Woodworm Be Treated?

Woodworm can be a tricky pest to control and eradicate, meaning that often its better to let a professional handle it.

Firstly, the extent of the woodworm will need to be understood. This is usually discovered by a surveyor who conducts a thorough examination of the property ahead of the woodworm treatment appointment.

At Timberwise, we use a specialised water-based woodworm treatment spray, which is designed to kill the woodworm on contact once they emerge from the timber. Whilst the treatment itself is long lasting, it has been designed to minimise the risk to pets, individuals, and the environment.

Of course, if this initial treatment is not enough, then we do have other methods to properly ensure the woodworm is removed. For example, we can use a penetrating insecticidal gel, designed to actually reach the larvae inside the timber itself if we suspect the infestation is requires such a treatment.

Of course, if your timber is in a condition that warrants repair, or even replacing, then our team can always carry them out for you, completely in line with the look of the rest of your timber. Just give our team a call or fill in one of our online forms to kick off the woodworm treatment process.

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How Would I Know I Have Woodworm?

Male Timberwise surveyor stood outside a property with a tablet in hand

There are some telltale signs that woodworm could be present in your properties timber, and you may even be able to spot some even if you don’t have any training in timber care.

For example, if you happen to notice that your timber is riddled with tiny holes, then these could well be bore holes. These small holes are where the adult woodworm beetles exit your timber once they have reached maturity to find a mate.

They are fairly noticeable, and could well be your first indication that your timber has a problem. You might also start to see small piles of a brown dust, known as frass. Frass is, essentially, woodworm droppings, and it tends to be deposited around the affected timber once the woodworm has become active.

However, these are only the most noticeable signs of woodworm, and they can often be overlooked or even ignored. For a comprehensive picture of your properties timber health, we would recommend a proper timber and damp survey conducted by one of our trained specialists.

Not only will our team be able to identify the affected timber, but they can also let you know the extend of the woodworm infestation, as well as what the most effective treatment will be for the woodworm present, which can all be delivered by our experienced and highly qualified technicians.