Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens have huge potential as source material in the field of human microbiome research. However, the effects of FFPE processing on bacterial DNA remain uncharacterized. Any effects are relevant for microbiome studies, where DNA template is often minimal and sequences studied are not limited to one genome. As such, we aimed to both characterize this FFPE-induced bacterial DNA damage and develop strategies to reduce and repair this damage. Our analyses indicate that bacterial FFPE DNA is highly fragmented, a poor template for PCR, crosslinked and bears sequence artefacts derived predominantly from oxidative DNA damage. Two strategies to reduce this damage were devised - an optimized decrosslinking procedure reducing sequence artefacts generated by high-temperature incubation, and secondly, an in vitro reconstitution of the base excision repair pathway. As evidenced by whole genome sequencing, treatment with these strategies significantly increased fragment length, reduced the appearance of sequence artefacts and improved the sequencing readability of bacterial and mammalian FFPE DNA. This study provides a new understanding of the condition of bacterial DNA in FFPE specimens and how this impacts downstream analyses, in addition to a strategy to improve the sequencing quality of bacterial and possibly mammalian FFPE DNA.