What do I look for when looking drift wood by a creek or something? I don't want to buy something like that when I could go out looking for a piece I want.
Don't blame you a bit for not wanting to buy the stuff in the store. It looks too fake for me. I get my driftwood near the local river areas. I look for pieces quite a ways from the water. These are drier and don't take much cleaning.
To clean, I just rinse them off in the sink or bathtub and scrub where needed. Don't use anything like soap to clean. I've never worried about bacteria in my area of the country.
While you're looking for the driftwood, look for some good rocks too. If you want to put the piece on the bottom of the tank, you'll need some rocks. You can float the piece too and attach floating plants to it with black sewing thread. Looks very natural.
Just a couple of thoughts.