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Thinking of a DIY Wood Pallet Bed? Why We SHOULD NOT Be Using Pallets in Our Interiors

by on Sep 28, 2016

Okay, here’s the deal, I came across a blogger rant a few months back about why we should absolutely NOT be using rescued pallets in our interiors for things like a DIY wood pallet bed or flooring. The arguments are compelling indeed and have made me re-think all those ‘pallet projects’ I’ve promoted over the years. 

Consider the history of recycled wood pallets

  • They are “exposed to water, all manner of vermin and insects” and bird droppings.
  • They are often treated with chemicals to make them resistant to fungus, mold, and insects

Think about E. coli & Listeria

Wood Pallets are susceptible to fungi

Other concerns when considering a wood pallet bed

  • Think pallets made of engineered wood and cardboard might be a better option? Think again; they’re oftentimes loaded with formaldehyde. 
  • Engineered wood and cardboard are also notable harbingers of ‘creepy crawlies’ like cockroaches. 
  • Also of concern is the stuff shipped on the pallets, which could include noxious items that off-gas themselves.

wood pallet

Bu MY pallet is SAFE. Maybe not

  • You used only kiln dried pallets. Great, but left in any damp & warm situation (see rainy pic above) for any amount of time and they become a breeding ground for mold.
  • You sanded and washed your pallets. Great, but boring insects and chemicals might still be in there.
  • You know where your pallets came from. Great, but companies reuse pallets all the time. 

So, that’s the argument in a nutshell and it’s a total buzzkill! BUT it’s also a very compelling argument that is hard to dismiss. To read the entire article, follow this jump.

Now, tell me what you think. Has this changed your opinion of pallets used in interior decor? Should I stop promoting rescued pallet projects?

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  1. They are “exposed to water, all manner of vermin and insects” and bird droppings.

    Just like play equipment people let their kids climb on in parks. Based on his logic, we should be afraid of anything that has ever been outside.

    The National Consumers League did tests on shipping pallets and found that 10% tesed for E. coli and 3% for the VERY NASTY Listeria.

    10% of homes tested positive for salmonella in the kitchen sink. Kitchen sinks also, on average, have more E. coli in them than a toilet that has just been flushed. Should we stop using kitchen sinks now? No, we should just clean them. Like you can do with a pallet. 

    Think pallets made of engineered wood and cardboard might be a better option? Think again; they’re oftentimes loaded with formaldehyde. 

    So is nail polish. And many wood stains.

    Also of concern is the stuff shipped on the pallets, which could include noxious items that off-gas themselves.

    This is something fairly easily controlled. If you get the pallet from a grocery store then it’s probably safe. And if it’s not, it might be best to stop buying groceries at that store.

    …left in any damp & warm situation (see rainy pic above) for any amount of time and they become a breeding ground for mold.

    You mean like EVERYTHING ELSE?

    Frankly, his arguments are ridiculous and just sound like a way to get people wound up.

  2. How many “Pallet Tragedies” have we seen or heard of?  I think I’ll take my chances.

  3. I’m using pallets that were used to ship vegetables. Okay, maybe at one time they “may” have been subjected to chemicals, but ultimately I think these might be some of the safer ones to use. Also, if we are painting and sealing them, whatever horrible creatures that live in them, will most likely die and be enternally embalmed. I’m okay with that. I still think a lot of pallet furniture is better than some of Ikea’s crap and a lot less expensive to make.

  4. Mold, formaldihyde, germs oh my!  We should look at banning dihydrogen monoxide.  Without DHMO these other things cease to be problems

  5. The Tylenol story would have more weight if the chemical they blamed it on is actually used in pallet manufacturing.  It’s banned in the US.  Also, lets say that the chemical was used.  This chemical had to be able to permeate the initial plastic wrap, then the large box that multiple packages are placed in, then the smaller box that you see on the shelf, and then the plastic bottle.   They were never able to prove that it was the pallet, only blamed the pallets, with no proof.

  6. Ok you can still do your pallet projects you just can use premade pallets so go to the hardware store buy 4×4’s and 2×4’s it’s a simple 4 ft by 4 ft construction or custom build them to fit your project

  7. If people are concerned about the chemicals that may be found in pallets, they should research how many household products have formaldehyde as an ingredient; the #1 active ingredient in Mr. Clean dry erase sponge is formaldehyde. Creepy critters are everywhere. Do I want a brown recluse spider living in my Maine home? No. To ensure this, I would make sure all pallets used are from the northeast. carry on with pallet furniture!

  8. Formaldehyde is found in almost every vaccine that we are required to inject into our kids… 

  9. Hasn’t changed my mind, still going to do my floor. Most of his concerns apply to most anything you bring into your house. We have way too many chemicals in our world. You can clean the wood, with a disinfectant, sand it down and inspect it well. You can also seal it which will end most of his issues.

  10. The same arguments can be made of ANY reclaimed wood – and in fact any wood, period. Anyone with a reasonable amount of woodworking experience will know in an instant which pieces of pallet wood are usable for flooring (or whatever) and which are not.  Once the fasteners are out and the wood is re-milled, it’s very easy to see/know what is contaminated and what is clean, usable material.  I would however use a respirator and take other reasonable precautions while milling down ANY reclaimed material.  If I have to detail point by point what those precautions are- you don’t yet have enough experience to attempt reclaimed material and should find a mentor. 

  11. let me know the last time someone died from something they caught from a pallet….safer to have a pallet in your home then the air we breath…

  12. I was trying to do a little research on pallets for my garden and came across this. While there are concerns over some chemicals, bugs, bacteria, whatnot.-Keep in mind wood furniture has been used for thousands of years (if not longer) and humanity has prevailed. I am more worried about plastics or pre-fabricated furniture and all of the chemicals that not only make up the furniture, ( which can be absorbed by the skin and food), but what chemicals were emitted in the air from the factory. I choose the less scary, recycled, wood furniture any day!  I plan to use kiln dried pallets in my garden, and put a food safe stain on them. Just my two cents.

  13. Duh…..clean them…a good drowning of bleach water and dawn will kill and sanitize anything…I use
    Barnwood and my barn is 200 years old and we are still alive….pss if you use paint pr varnish or anything on the wood….kills organisms

  14. When I was younger I worked in a lot of warehouses and touched, loaded and broke down many many pallets and so did everyone I worked with.never got anything from them and neither did anyone else.

  15. I plan on slathering my pallets with the creamy filling from Twinkies!  First it will kill off and / or neutralize anything that’s ever touched a pallet and secondly it will preserve it forever!  Better yet, I’m going to forgo the pallets and use Twinkies as building materials along with hot dogs, fruitcake, etc.  

  16. nick is a jag off. I loath the cry baby statistical arguments people make. Scour the internet and you can argue any point with “facts” in your favor, in no time. Here’s some ecoli and listeria facts nearly all chicken and eggs bought in commercial environments are ecoli packed. How about lunch meat and our hoagie/subs from our favorite deli or subway etc… The meat is riddled with listeria (this is why lunch meat and hot dogs are forbidden for pregnant women) Now, knowing that we eat these bacteria on a regular basis are you scared? I’m not. With wood you can take precautions to select or prevent interactions with these contaminants, food is a grab bag of invisible and unavoidable bacteria. The threats can be nearly eliminated with using the pallets, be smart and select the best available options, sand and seal them, kiln if possible, etc. If you live life under a microscope your bound to see impurities …

  17. Isn’t most all wood treated. If anything the wood from a lumberyard is more likely to be treated more than the lowly pallet. I just made a work bench out of some and plan to do side tables for our sofa next weekend with pallets. Can’t wait!

  18. Yesterday in my travels, and as I gazed out the passenger window at the tick and gypsy moth infested trees with decaying moss and bacteria ridden rotting trees, I was passed by an open air flatbed 18 wheeler loaded up with lumber. I’m sure some at least one peice of that lumber will grace the interior of someone’s home. Shortly after that we passed 4 massive peices of a hopefully happy family’s prefabed modular home. While new and rather fuel efficient, some of my pickup trucks exhaust and the thousands of other vehicles had to have passed through, over, and around both precious cargo. All kidding aside I think some care and consideration should be taken with all secondhand and recycled materials.

    Also: “I’ll remember these warnings the next time I want to lick my pallet wall.” Is my all time fav responce 

  19. Do you know how much formaldehyde is in particle board and plywood?  I think these new products are far more contaminated than any pallet.  Don’t even get me started on wal to wall broadloom and the chemicals it off gasses.

  20. This argument was only made by the furniture company’s to scare you. They don’t want you building your own furniture. Less business for them. I’ve been doing pallets for years and never had a problem, not one with mine. I used new and old ones. Only problem is wife gets made I spend a lot of time in the garage but got a whole new outdoor patio becuz of it 🙂

  21. Even fabric is treated with formaldehyde. Should we stop wearing clothes? 🙂

  22. Some of these commets amaze me that anyone would worry about whats on a pallet material. I am the GM of a company that ships thousands of pallets everyweek where we have to be AIB certified for food grade materials. This basically means pallets can’t ever see outdoor during our handling. But during my many trips to many plants food and medical grade they store pallets outside. I can promise anyone that if your only concern is a piece of wood you made a floor out of you have very little to worry about. Think about it, how many workers in the pallet business have health concerns because they work with these pallets touching them everyday? They are billions of pallets in the United States, many more billion shipped into the United States every month, keep using pallets for whatever projects and you will live a stressful life and the ones of you who worry over this you probaly will die from heart attach and half ulcers worrying over the simple things in life. 

  23. If thats the case we wouldnt have furniture period because some companys use wood of all kids even the wood taken off pallets… its called recycling. It gets shipped the same way regular pallets does. so whats the difference? Your basically telling everyone that they cant clothe themselves and kids or family and they wont have anything comfortable to lay, sit or sleep on because of the wood and all the insects. OMg SHUT UP regardless outside or inside there will be bugs. If you go outside there will be a bug that sneek in behind you so you will have a bug in your house. leave your house dirty… same thing, cockroaches, bedbugs and more so SHUT UP. Its called nature. Everything and Amything can and will happen. People can take any risk they want!

  24. If you’ve ever visited a lumber yard you know than most wood that builders use is exposed to the elements, insects and vermin for extended periods of time. Also during the building process itself. Much of it is chemically treated as well. Nick should relax and stop trying to get attention by being a spoil sport.

  25. It just doesn’t make sense that cleaned, sanded, and re-finished wood pallets are going to pose any more hazard than any other kind of reclaimed wood. It seems to me that the cost/benefit to using wood pallets i.e. the potential dangers listed by Nick, versus preventing a useful material from going to landfills is a  bit of a no-brainer. Post more projects, please!!

  26. come on,,, if you are a reasonable person you will recognize mold, incects or other nasty stuff, also as for pallets, use “EURO” palets (special markings) and you be safe, EVEN food transported on those, so,,, 

    Also, people what do you think about calble spools ?

    I just finish the hole boutique shop from those,,, will those kill me costumers immediatlly of will they suffer from slow agonizing deaf? 🙂

    Chill man,,, but yes, baby bed might be made from something else, not becouse of pallets it self but babies lick and bite aything, as well as wanish or other treatment 😉 

  27. No one is forcing Nick to use pallets.  There is risk with everything these days, especially the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that grows in that air & water!  Even things that are considered safe now, we might be told 50 yrs from now how unsafe those things are.  As mentioned above, just sand it and seal it.  Problem solved.  I have a couple pallets I may be using one of these days — until then, they are sitting in an implement shed, exposed to weather, bugs and rodents!  Ah well………..  lol

  28. Glad people are upcycling, but I can still appreciate someone taking the time to share their views on what they think is hazardous.  

  29. come ne, ladies!  he is simply putting the information out there.  if you want to use it and expose your kids to these things, than go for it.  if not, don’t use it.  simple as that!  I used to work in a lumber yard and I know full well that some of the things I saw on wood, i wouldn’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole, let alone my kids bed or anything else in my kids use. use common sense!

  30. didnt even mention black widows and fiddleback spiders who love to hide inside the pallets.

  31. several years ago redwood play equipment was linked with childhood cancers. CAN NOT even imagine what pallets could be exposing the kids to.

  32. I was kind of hoping his article would help kill the pallet art movement….it’s tired and, quite frankly, getting a little ridiculous….I don’t care if people eat off a pallet….just stop pinning that crap on Pinterest already.

  33. Someone always tries to rain on someone else’s parade. We do a great family business in salvage materials. We power wash all of our pallets. Power Washing will remove any and everything, especially when using a Hotsie. The water itself is disinfecting because it is so hot. It would remove paint from a car. Don’t let someone rain on your parade….keep on repurposing!!!

  34. Not so concerned about being exposed to weather etc.  But palets are treated with some god awful chemicals, cianide and formaldahide to name a few, Due to them being shipped internationaly. That doesnt mean you can’t use them, just be weary in what ever your application is. Give em a serious clean, and finish by sealing the timber. 

  35. Kinda a silly argument when you consider your new couch has all the same things your pallets do ..  And higher levels of formaldihide . Couches sit in wharehouses for months , all kinds of vermin and insects will crawl over them .  I should know I have been called hundreds of times over any given year .. to steam clean ” NEW” furniture … New carpet and underlayment is just as bad chemical wise .  So should we stop buying furniture and stop using carpet ?

  36. So, stop using all wood in household furniture? Use what, plastic, glass and metal? Ick. Look for labeled pallets, clean them, spray them with a 10% bleach solution (same thing labs use to kill E.coli and other bacteria) and seal it.

  37. I can see his argument, BUT, if bleached, then sanded and SEALED with polyurethane they how would it not be okay for them to be used on floors?  Of course I want i want it to be safe, but is anything safe? Those toilet bowl hangy thingies have cancer-causing agents if I remember correctly, and many household items are very dangerous or can be.  How about the fresh veggies and fruits we buy?  No telling what they contain.  Is it more risky when you weight the factors? How can it emit any fumes or transfer to anything else if sealed.  I just want to find someone who can tell me for sure if it is reasonably safe or not.  Also, The pallets I have don’t have either of the two markings that a page I found says it should have…one being safe and the other not.

  38. “I’ll remember these warnings the next time I want to lick my pallet wall.” LOL!!!

  39. I’ve been telling my husband lately that I wanted to use the pallet in our garage to make something to go in the house.  He just keeps repeating the same stuff you’ve said here, so I guess they’ll be no pallet furniture for me.

  40. I see reason for concern and I will definately show this to my daughter who build her raised bed out of pallets because she jumped all over me for using a rain barrell to water my vegetable garden with concern over the grit from the roof.  I guess we’re all going to die of something.

  41. There are risks in everything we do anymore.  Riding in traffic is dangerous due to fumes, and the chance of getting into an accident.  Household chemicals are bad – like bleach and amonia.  Even Lysol spray was suppose to have Agent Orange in it under “Overt Chemicals”.  How often did we spray our babies nurseries with that stuff?  And we also sprayed it on surfaces to kill flu bugs, and then we touched those surfaces.  We all know what Agent Orange did to Vietnam Vets.  The point is everything is dangerous in one way or another so decide what is right for you, research your options and make a decision that will work for you.  I did notice when sanding pallet boards the smell was bad, so I went to begging scraps of wood from people who finished projects and that ended that problem!  Enjoy!


  42. Seriously?????? I live half a mile from a lumber yard and i drive by it everyday and i can tell you that there are piles of wood all over the place just sitting there. either finished or uncut i swear i think some of them have been in the exact same spot for over a year. aint no telling whats on them or been on them. but honestly do you really think that we shouldnt use that wood in our house because its been out in the weather? give me a break thats ignorant thinking and people worry WAY to much about the littlest of things. thats like saying i cant use by back deck (all wood) because the bugs and rain have been on them. come on people. if you really want something to worry about then start looking at our government and its problems. big brother is watching everything we do now. thats more of a real threat to me than some wet dirty wood i want to clean and use in my house.

  43. Wood comes from nature, it absorbs anything in the air any way. Poly it that stuff will kill anything.  How many bugs have lived in that wood anyway, how many birds lived in the tree the wood is made of?

  44. These two posts sum it up for me:

    “So, stop using all wood in household furniture? Use what, plastic, glass and metal? Ick. Look for labeled pallets, clean them, spray them with a 10% bleach solution (same thing labs use to kill E.coli and other bacteria) and seal it.”


    Aug 27, 2014

    “Kinda a silly argument when you consider your new couch has all the same things your pallets do ..  And higher levels of formaldihide . Couches sit in wharehouses for months , all kinds of vermin and insects will crawl over them .  I should know I have been called hundreds of times over any given year .. to steam clean ” NEW” furniture … New carpet and underlayment is just as bad chemical wise .  So should we stop buying furniture and stop using carpet ?”

    When my sister was probably around 7-9 she slept on a new carpet floor had a seizure and develop epilepsy.  I would guess had it been a pallet floor, the outcome would not have been the same. Most feng shui decorators and conscious interior designers recommend used furniture because it has had the opportunity to off-gas a couple years or natural safer options than conventional furniture.

  45. Before I bring pallets inside I:

    Spray them with alcohol, kills fungus and bacteria and helps dry the wood, making any new infestation or growth unlikely. 

    And since I don’t own a kiln, I put them in my car with the heat blasting for about three hours. Takes all the moisture out, kills bugs.

    Neither of these methods are difficult.

  46. Rotf….licking your pallets. That’s hilarious. I’m getting ready to rip out my floors and replace them with wood pallets. I’ll try not to lick them.

  47. These are very common issues that people will bring up/think about when wanting to re-use pallets. Are they safe? Are they clean? To be honest, you can not guarantee that all pallets will be safe and clean to use inside the home. But, there are measures and precautions you can take to make sure that they are top notch quality, yourself. To do this, when buying pallets/looking for pallets make sure they are heat-treated (these are not chemically treated). Then when bringing them home wash them with warm water and dishsoap and rinse them off. Let them dry, and then you can sand them down to make sure you won’t get slivers and such. Then stain them with a clear coat (or whatever stain you want). These are all ways to make sure that the pallets are safe and useful to re-use.

  48. Here’s a fun exercise. Take a household material, i.e. latex or oil based paint, cooking spray, dish detergent, swiffer wipes, soda etc. anything. and google it along with the word “toxic”. you’ll likely find a rant. Maybe not with all of them, but many. My point is there’re a hundreds if not thousands of toxic things we associate with in our lives. Almost everything you purchase has been in contact with a pallet also – next time you go to ANY grocery store bathroom in the back storage/inventory area take a look around, looks clean right? ..right? My point is not to give alarm but to point out that even without man-made products our bodies are exposed to a multidude of toxic or harmful substances on a daily basis and essentially, generally humans are just not that frail. by all means, if you have a history of illness or are prone to infection, avoid pallet furnture. My own living space has it spread all throughout and I’m fine. My girlfriend is fine. my guests are fine. my pet is fine. notwithstanding as someone else pointed out use common sense. I don’t think I’d ever build say, a crib out of pallets….unless the wood was literally buried underneath layers of sealant and had actually no exposed wood at all, then maybe. lol. In summation: pallets may just be one more thing one more person has suggested will hurt us. There are thousands maybe millions of people on tv and the internet saying this or that thing is terrible and will give us birdflue or marburg if we eat/drink/touch/breathe it and I for one feel if you’re going to worry about pallets, you might as well give credence to the rest of All The Terrible Toxic Things and basically never go outside, touch an animal, try a new food or (gasp) do a diy project. Life will be pretty dull but hey at least you’ll never ever EVER (maybe) get sick.

  49. So much misinformation.  Whether or not the pallets have been heat treated has virtually no bearing on its safety in the home. Heat treatment is used for pallets intended for shipment outside the US and is used for killing bugs and any eggs/larvae that may be present.  This has a limited amount of time that it would be of value.  Typically, most heat treated pallets are intended to be used in a short amount of time after production. For the most part, once you have brought a used pallet into your home, it has probably spent a fair amount of time in an area with stagnant air, outdoors exposed to weather, humidity, and whatever else to make the heat treatment irrelevant.  The bugs have had plenty of time to reinfest if they wanted to.  By and large, bugs are of no more concern than they are compared to anything else you bring into the house.  Just make sure you give them a good cleaning.  Most of the alarmist stuff in this article is meant to get people riled up.  Basically, use common sense and you won’t have any issues.  You have a million other things in your house and under your sink that are much more harmful than a wood pallet. 

  50. The thing is every wood product is suspect to micro objects, and as a society we are hopefully aiming to reduce waste, as well as costs.  The pallet issue so far as contamination is completely insane, whereas the greater majority of “finish” woods are available to the same which has been stated.  Pick your party, choose what you will, but do not freak people out over stupid shit!

  51. While some might argue pallets are harmful. They should also take into consideration that some people (me) live in North Dakota. VERY FEW insects can survive during our brutal winters. This is why I do my pallet re-stocking during the brutally cold winter months. I use to live in New Orleans for 20 years, Im an insect pro. Cockroaches will not stay on or somehow in your pallets when your moving them, they will scatter. Go poke your nose somewhere else, like a McDonald’s factory. People eat junk every day, they work dirty jobs (oilfield). At the end of the day, no one cares about a “dirty” pallet.

  52. Waiste of time to read. How many of you ladies actually have had this happen? First baby that dies from E Coli from a pallet let me know. Mine and my children’s beds are made from pallets, daughter showed me a few bugs on hers once, so guess what we did!!!! Switched out the fuckin pallet. Smart huh?

  53. And how much does anybody know about the rest of their furniture? Chemicals used, where it was stored what it was exposed to? We will know the FDA/government regulation approve of any chemical that Proves financially beneficial. I appreciate that people should be careful not to use chemically treated pallets but really I think this argument could apply to anything from the apple in your fridge to the public toilet seat you used last, and guess what they all came off of a pallet to get to you.

  54. This IS the dumbest thing I ever read!  

    And Nick obviously needs to calm down and rethink every single product he has in his house.   From the formaldehyde outgassing furniture, to the lead paint in kids toys, to the bed bug infested new clothes you just bought at the department store…

    Stop over thinking everything…  Stop believing everything you read on the net…  and live you life the way you want to.  

  55. You know why you shouldn’t repurpose pallets into furniture? Because it is ugly. Tacky, ugly, overdone. Even worse than chevron.

  56. I’m afraid everything you said about pallets could be said of any other wood available on the market – unless you’ve harvested it yourself and supervised all the processing. You never know where it comes from and what did they do to the timber – and if it’s been chemically dried (as it often happens) it’s full of toxic remains. And how about the varnish? Or do you use only natural bee wax? The fact is that pallet wood is as good or as bad as any other wood  available commercially. And it’s cheap or even free. And it’s durable. 

  57. Following this logic, don’t bring anything in your house, including yourself. In fact, burn your house down.

  58. To be honest with everyone from a former firefighter ,most everything in your home can be hazardous to you in way or another ,most interior of homes if on fire can hurt u just from the gas’s they produce,OK but we don’t stop living our homes ,most of our food is shipped on pallets ,most of our food sit in warehouses where rats,Roach’s crawel over it but we still eat it so why all the hype over the pallet floors,just let it go ,if we listen to everyone who thinks they no what’s best for us we all be walking around wearing bullet proof vest,helments and masks.

  59. I’ve worked in warehouses my entire life. It’s pretty easy to tell the old nasty pallets from the new. Sometimes they get discarded only because they aren’t the company’s standard size, and the wood is great. I’ve also worked at one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in the us, Ashley (thank you, appreciate the sympathy). The reality is that the pests and chemicals your worried about have the chance to be present in ANY of your furniture. Use common sense. If you wouldn’t touch the pallet without gloves don’t put it in your living room. Btw, handy tip, a lot of pallets are painted and color coded.Blue are usually heavy duty, orange are flame retardant, yellow are heat treated, etc. I’m sure this isn’t a national standard, but I know a lot of pallet makers follow similar. I’ve seen then a lot, in a lot of different warehouses.

  60. Keep on palleting! This rant is just another freak out moment I don’t want in my head. I wonder if the ranter has quit breathing… Because the air we breathe is so filled with crap that it alone outweighs everything else. But what’s a human to do??? Take a deep breathe and have some pallet fun for crying out loud!!!

  61. You could also buy pallets direct from the company that make them. Even before they are assembled. If you want the old look, create your own. Have fun!

  62. Does he know that formaldehyde in the form of DMDM is in alot of shiz. Shampoo, body wash, handsoap,etc…everything nowadays is toxic…hell, half the food we eat is grown with a variation of Agent Orange called, GMO.  (Which might I add is being protested against) I see some of his point, but like so many of you mentioned if you live out your life in fear of everything; you accomplish nothing. Pallet On, my friend…pallet on!

  63. Somebody always has a way to piss in the Cheerios I am currently collecting pallets to redo my floors sorry home depot u get enough money from is consumers. Hey By the way don’t trees grow outside with the birds and bugs so go ahead and build and save thousands

  64. I’m redoing all my flooring except bedrooms with pallet wood. I’m a hyper analytical & rational individual. I find the harsh reality to be this…the human race is exposed to fungus & creepy crawlies and their feces every second of every day. We just chose to not think about it. Wood is part of nature whether it is turned into a pallet or the 2×4’s our homes are framed with. The difference only lies in the chemicals used to treat that wood. Do the projects you enjoy & apply a few more chemical compounds to the pallet project of your choice to seal whatever was in the wood prior to when you began.

  65. The wood we buy out of the lumber store also are treated with chemicles. Sto tee d in warehouses with rodents and pests for years. Dont stop publishing plz. Recycle reuse. Be smart.

  66. I made a doghouse out of pallets much cheaper than buying its lasted 20 years and still strong

  67. This seems a little daft to me! you could apply this to ALL timber products, not just recyled pallets! Buy timber from a timber yard? guess what, its been left outside A LOT, buy treated timber? well even though, in the UK at least, they don’t treat timber with arsenic any more the pressure treatment chemicals are still pretty nasty! Timber or pallets might have creepy crwlies on them, well by the time you’ve finished sawing it, sanding it and hitting it with a hammer I think you should have spotted any worms or catterpillers and if its got woodworm them just burn it! and if you don’t want to catch Ecoli or anything else then don’t go around licking random bits of timber that have been left outside for a long time! 

    Keep recylcing and don’t let the clean freaks win!

  68. My question is if you seal it won’t that stop mold gases and other thing from escaping

  69. Well working in a chemical warehouse when I was younger…you sure wouldn’t want to use any of the pallets we got rid of…

  70. Your “friend” Nick has a problem…maybe more than one.  Ever think he has obsessive disorder?  If someone is worried about germs, hose wash them or power wash them real good.  Boring insects?  Mold and mildew? Nick is really stretching and needs counseling.  Does Nick ever wonder about micrscopic shavings that fall into food when you open the can with the can opener?  He should be. He apparently worries about stuff like that way too much.  

  71. I have been a project engineer in heavy steel manufacturing for ten years and would NEVER use old pallets for anything inside my house. You have no idea what the pallet is subjected to while it is being used in manufacturing/shipping.
    Outside projects are fine, but the heat treated wood will invite termites.

  72. Thank you for posting this. I was going to start a business using wood pallets in my products. No way! I would never want to sell something that could potentially cause illness in my customers’ homes. I never even thought about this, even though I should have used my common sense and noticed that they are outside (duh at myself). In my business, my customers and the health and safety of their families will always come before a profit. Not because I care about money but because I care about the people I sell my products to. I’ll find another way to help families go green in their homes. I will not use wood pallets for anything, not even outdoor things that I build. The article did say pallets would be good in a garden as a bug motel, but if I’m growing food, I don’t want rats feces in my garden. Again thanks for posting this.

  73. I’m taking everyone’s comments into account. But I have a question for anyone who may know the answer. Does it matter the type of establishment you get the pallets from? For example, if I got pallets from Whole Foods, them being strictly organic, would that play role role in whether they are sanitary or not? I still don’t know everything I need to know about pallets, however, my research has lead me to a controversy (if you will) regarding pallets. My other question is, are pallets so widely used that you never know where they’ve been? Please feel free to reply with any info that might be helpful. Thanks everyone. 🙂

  74. Pallets are widely enough used in industry to loose all traceability. The bottom line is, if it will hold together enough to ship something it will be used. At the end of their usable life, they are discarded.

  75. EVery been to a lumbar yard??? Ever seen how they bring that lumber in??? Sure some is treated but others aren’t. They lay around outside in the weather, around animals, etc! The same thing as pallets. Ever considered what’s on the bottom of your shoes? What’s on your clothing from going to the mall? What’s on your hands? We bought a beam from a lumber yard that was filled with carpenter ants. We made a head board out of pallets and it’s perfectly fine. Find something else to waste your time on.

  76.  So Nick Needs to calm down, Our houses are built with 80 percent reclaimed wood,  We pressure wash all our wood and lightly wire brush it, this gets rid of the dirt, we then dry it all in bright sunlight which gently drys it and disinfects it,  if we are worried about bugs we spray it with borate solution. [ Remember BORAX]   Any cellulose material is a natural environment for mold to grow in, however mold needs moisture.    Lumber from the lumber yard can grow mold just as easily as reclaimed wood.   Keep out  the moisture and keep out the mold.   If you are worried about e coli  etc  then  treat your pallets with a  cleaning solution that will kill these . 

  77. Does sanding, paint ting and sealing not fix this problem? I’m just saying. I refurbish old furniture which I’m sure has been exposed to many nasty things but after sanding painting and sealing I think it’s fine. Until I hear of ppl becoming sick form use of I door pallets i,will co tinge to use them I doors.

  78. I thought pallets would be great till I read this article and I worked in the steel industry tour 20 years. I should have been smarter. These pallets are exposed to some very harmful chemicals. And our company along with many others would swap pallets all the time. Plus all the stuff shipped from China and other countries who have no regulations. I’d rather use something else than find out 10 years from now I exposed my kids to something that made them sick just to have a bookshelf in my house.

  79. Can u sand blast them to help eliminate these concerns.than seal the wood with a stain or shallack.maybe

  80. No it doesn’t change my mind. I am sure all said in this article is true, but I have yet to hear of one case of anything coming from a pallet. If it was so easy to catch e.coli from pallets everyone who loads, and unloads them would have come down with it or anything else mentioned!

  81. I saw nothing written about toxic chemicals. Many pallets have held toxic chemicals that leak. Then pallets soak up these chemicals like a sponge and there’s no removing the chemicals from the wood.
    Also, the best pallets you can use are the oak pallets. They are a lot stronger than pine AND they are more dense as well which will help limit liquid damage.

  82. Does anyone feel as I do that we were healthier back when we used soap and water to get rid of dirt and didn’t strilize every surface? We developed immune systems that responded appropriately and took antibiotics ONLY when seriously ill. We also played outside, climbing trees (bugs!) even made mud pies and splashed in puddles. We didn’t snack between meals, if the kids were ‘fat’ they got jello for dessert, and eggs instead of pancakes.

  83. So, you took one man’s comments as gospel? Please tell me that you investigated his research. If you had, you would learn that you have a greater chance getting bad bugs off your kitchen counter, your bathroom doorknob, and YOUR CELLPHONE screen (yes, over 20% of all phone screens have trace amounts of fecal matter- that is POOP). Re-use shopping bags? Congrats! They release chemicals into the air! Wish I had more space because I would dispell all of his rabid concerns. You are welcome!

  84. Has the writer quick driving his car? Did he have his windows rolled up tight and a gas mask on when he was behind the “toxic pallet” truck?

    Gimme a break.

  85. Well I have read all the above comments and some of them have made me laugh so loud…does the gent Nick not have Garden Furniture left outside or does he bring it into his sterile home each night after watching gueard on it for creepy crawlies, flies etc whilst it is outside. Just about to start a pallet project and will check the wood out first but then bring it on…

  86. So then go and buy some timber from a DIY shed treated with chromium arsenate! If the pallets are stained or coloured, don’t use them. If they smell funny, don’t use them. If they look clean and smell of only wood then break them up, dry them out, oil them and use them. Bacteria etc need three things- moisture, air and warmth, deny them one or more and they won’t be a problem. You can use food grade oil to seal wood, three coats of rapeseed/canola oil should seal it pretty well.

  87.  Some pallets are used continuously by the same companies, for example some companies charge a deposit on their pallets so that they get them back And can reuse them.  Many companies give away pallets and you can find out what they are used for shipping if you simply ask.  

  88. There are tons of safe – and beautiful projects using wooden pallets. One in particular comes to mind for a very high-end home that used old shipping pallets for floors throughout the home. The pallets were fumigated, sorted, then planed to get a consistent level. The smoothing process was accomplished with a nylon pad then an oil sealer applied. Google Schenck and Company if you’re curious about the outcome. I’ve seen smaller scale projects, like coffee tables or furniture created similarly. 

  89. “It seems like I’m reading an article everyother day about all the people that got listeria from their pallet project” said no one ever…

  90. So much misinformation on here its laughable.  If your biggest health concern in your home is a used pallet that you recycled, them you must live in a pretty sterile home.  There are hundreds of other risks in your home that far outweigh the risk of a pallet.  The author talks about basically “playing it safe’ and not bringing them in the house.  Well, if you are going to “play it safe”, then don’t bring in any furniture, carpet, paint, non stick pans, plastic containers, most household cleaners, soaps, shampoos, air fresheners, produce bought in the store or any processed foods.  They are filled with chemicals and can harm you as well with enough exposure! While you’re at it, don’t drive a car, don’t use the staircase to your basement, make sure your home is completely fire retardant, and never get on your roof.  All of these have multiple cases of death every year.

  91. I produce commercial pallet furniture and wood walls in the UK. Personally, I no longer go scrounging for old dirty pallets to use as the effort of finding, locating, dismantling, waste disposal, cleaning and sanding takes far more time and energy than it does to purchase new pallet wood slats direct from the mill. That way, I know what I’m selling to my customers as well as keeping check on my company’s green target. Dirt and grub can get into the wood at any stage including when it’s growing, you got to do your best to keep it in check.

  92. I drove a truck for years and pallets was reuse over and over By different to companies. All the pallets from Walmart with everything from food to TV to paint oil.. is all put on a trailer out side the stores and filled top to bottom. some times it will set there for a year till the trucking company finds someone to sell them to.

  93. E coli & listeria, both found on natural wood as well, like ANY thing else if you look hard enough you can find all bacteria anywhere

  94. I worked in the pop/soda industry for 5 years. Pallets are pretty gross. On the bottoms, there is sand, dirt, grease. On the tops there is impressions from steel drums, strange stains and a lot of them soak up liquids that broke open. Things like pesticides, lubricants, car batteries, leaking food containers. Generally, if pallets are going to have food moved on them, they put a layer of cardboard on top of them first. Used pallets are stacked and everything that is on the bottom of them, will end up being on top. Plus when it rains, everything will end up dripping on the ones below. Granted, if you are fine with storing your lawnmower in your bedroom, or don’t mind remnants of industrial chemicals in your furniture, them maybe it isn’t a big deal to you

  95. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I saw no mention of any kind of polyurethane or protection sealant, which everyone should use on all projects, especially furniture or things that humans have close contact with. Seal off the projects with 4 coats of polyurethane and there’s not much to be afraid of.

  96. I didn’t find it compelling at all. I felt like the whole article boiled down to him saying I don’t like pallets because I think they’re gross. Ew! A bug! I’m scared of those. Ew! Bacteria from being outside. Scary. Mold from being outside. Scary. I don’t like things that have been outside. I bet he is not much fun to camp with.
    This article read like one of those news stories you see when there is no real news that day so they fill it with fear mongering and sensationalism. “Sex offenders are now using the same communication devices as your children. Are your children safe? Tune in tonight at 10 for our investigative report on…the telephone.”

    All wood has spent time outside stacked in a lumber yard where bugs and bacteria are. All of it.
    All wood has slivers until it’s been planed and/or sanded. Then it doesn’t. If you have a rough cut, sliver prone piece of wood, sand it til it’s smooth and doesn’t have slivers and THEN make a baby bed with it. Your baby will love it.

    Ironically, one the best decontamintors out there is good ol’ UV light- breaking down chemicals since…the sun existed. If you’re really worried about a pallet you should leave it outside longer.

    The data he cites about the bacteria found on pallets pales in comparison to the quantity and frequency of the same and similar bacteria on SHOPPING CARTS, a place where people with babies and little children put those babies and little children ALL THE TIME.

    Anyone making their own stuff eats into his bottom line, which makes the whole article somewhat dubious from my perspective. If you’re going to build with pallets, use common sense…and bleach, just to be on the safe side.
    If you don’t like building with things that have been outside because the outside is gross , don’t use wood to build with.

  97. There are bugs and fungi in wood when it’s still a tree. You can always great the pallet. It’s not like you are going to eat it. You just have to be careful.

  98. Let me shed some light. I am a Truck Driver with 21 years and i can tell you some serious nightmares about pallets, which are used everyday in our industry and i remember taking some pallets to a place that purchased them and they looked at them and won’t take them cause they were contaminated. Yes it’s best to buy new if your going to be making indoor or outdoor. When they are contaminated the only thing they’re good for is kindling. Just giving you the perspective of what i know from being around pallets and what type of issues that occur or can occur from using used pallets.

  99. Most of the same arguments hold true for any wood exposed to the elements (read virtually all wood sold). Sanding and finishing would resolve most of the above issues in either case.

  100. I wash mine and I seal everything
    Doesn’t everyone?
    I thought that was the way it was done
    I’m sure pallets with character are full of scary things, but not after I clean and seal them

  101. Paranoia strikes deep! You are exposed to all of these things any way. I’ve watched homes being built with lumber that has been sitting in the rain and covered with mold spores. There is nothing more dangerous about a pallet health wise than there is a pine board from the lumber yard. If we took this attitude toward everything we would live in a sealed plastic bubble. Oh, but wait, that would contain a substance suspected by California to cause cancer.

  102. Oh please stop all of you, let’s use some common sense… All wood comes from outside. Birds crap on wood every day. And unless your blind or completely ignorant, mold shouldn’t be an issue either. Unless you lick the pallets while its raining right after a bird crapped on it while someone poured gas on it, I highly doubt any harm will come to you. And as far as bugs go we’ve found bugs in some of the most expensive pieces of wood, we’ve even cut 2X4s from Lowes and found bullets lodged in them(by the way there made of lead). Guess what the US government use to test and use nuclear weapons in the open air, animals pee in your water supply every day, farmers use cow crap to grow crops, oil can be found in soil under your house, antifreeze leaks from all types of vehicles and equipment every day, the sun can give you cancer, and bugs and vermin can infiltrate your home any time they please. Id guess tho,that the number one killer and diseaser of humans is humans… So please don’t use or burn or enjoy pallets in any way, that’s just more for the rest of us. Use your heads people. It’s no wonder we as a country are in such sad shape, when everyone starts to make epidemics of such stupid stuff. Sorry for offending half of you and to the other half, stay calm and build on.

  103. Question then? Would this be the same for reclaimed wood from old barns? I see these shows that use them all the time.

  104. I work with and use pallets (as pallets) every day. I see what they look like when we have them and frankly wash my hands often. Full of spiders and mouse droppings. Especially if they have been stored outside (and alot are!) We have to special order “treated” pallets to send stuff to other countries and sometimes the smell that comes off of them causes us to open all the doors in the buildings. I sure wouldn’t want those chemicals to be breathed in by a child with a bed frame made out of them! Lumber from the hardware store is safe. Pallet wood is not…
    But this is just my opinion

  105. I disagree. If that was the case then we would have to stop using wood all together. All wood is exposed to chemicals. I believe that if we take proper precautions and clean, use sand paper and cover the wood with a good stain or paint this wood is just as safe as any other wood in the market. Better care should be taken to select the products used to treat the wood after all they contain chemicals. Common sense, if a pallet is cover with oil or smells like a pesticide or you suspect the wood to be infested with insects then don’t use it! Please keep recycling those pallets and everything else that can be repurposed. The Earth will smile when we save those thousands of trees and reward you with fresh oxygen.

  106. Blah blah blah people there are chemicals in alot thing we eat and use get over yourselves

  107. The misinformation on here is amazing. One previous comment says that lumber from the hardware store is safer. That is completely wrong. Much of that wood has been treated already and is stored in the same way as pallet material. I work for a family business that has a sawmill and a pallet mill. Some of the wood we harvest we sell to lumber yards, some we cut into railroad ties, some of the higher grade woods go to flooring companies, and most goes to our pallet mill. If you think there is some way that wood is separated based on where it is going in the end, you are mistaken. We process our trees, cut them into the needed length of boards and then nail them together. There is no sinister chemical process or treatment done to the typical pallet. Why would we spend the money for something that isn’t needed? We do heat treat pallets, but that is required for those shipping outside of the US to kill any bugs that could be considered invasive in other countries. Relax people and use common sense when you use pallets for your projects. If they look like they’ve been used over and over and have chemicals spilled on it – then pick a different pallet!
    Driving back and forth to the place you got your pallet is MUCH more dangerous than the pallet!