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How To Clean Your Garden Tools and Pruning Shears

Garden tools have to be cleaned after every use and sharpened regularly. Because when you think about it, each of your garden tools contributes to your success as a gardener. These tools are vital for the survival of the plants.

In this guide, let’s talk about garden tools -- how to clean your pruning shears, avoid corrosion, keep the edges sharp, and ways to remove gummy saps.

How Often to Clean Gardening Tools

gardening tools

Gardening tools should be cleaned after every use. This goes especially for digging tools or pruners used to cut diseased plants. These should be cleaned immediately.

How Often to Clean Gardening Tools

Cleaning: Rinse your digging tools with water using a garden hose to remove soil and unwanted debris. With a wire brush or putty knife, remove caked-on soil. Quickly dry off with a clean microfiber cloth before storing. Clean pruners in soapy water and give a good scrub using a wire brush. If the pruners were used to cut diseased or pest-infested soil, mix 2 cups of bleach into a gallon of water, then soak the pruners. Once clean, dry with a microfiber cloth, add a little linseed oil to the moving parts then store.

Inspecting for Rust: It’s essential to check the garden tools for rust because it will be hard to remove once it sets in. Do this before using your garden tools. Prevent rust by storing the garden tools only when they’re completely dry. If you’re seeing some signs of rust, get a stiff wire brush or steel wool and a small amount of vegetable oil. Lightly coat the rusty parts with oil and scrub with the wire brush. This will loosen the rust quickly. Wipe the garden tool, then add a light coating of WD-40 to prevent rust while in storage.

Removing Sticky Sap: Gummy, sticky sap is hard to remove, but it should come off fairly quickly with a cloth saturated with solvents like turpentine, lighter fluid, or Goo Gone. When removing sticky plant sap, pay close attention to the moving or hinged parts. Leftover sap might lead to rusting, so carefully inspect the tool once cleaned before storing it. Wipe the blades clean with the cloth dipped in solvent, rinse with soapy water, then treat with plant-based oils before storing.

Disinfecting Tools: The bleach and water solution works great for disinfecting just about any garden tool. After cleaning your garden tools, mix 2 cups of bleach in a gallon of water. Submerge the tools and leave them to soak for 10 minutes. Rinse with clean water, then dry completely with a microfiber brush. Once dried off, give the tools at least 30 minutes to air dry.

Treating Wood Handles: The majority of garden tools have wooden handles, which should be treated carefully to prevent the material from drying out, splitting, and loosening. Avoid using petroleum products to treat parts of the garden tools and opt for natural alternatives like boiled linseed oil, vegetable oil, and other plant-based oils. Apply a light coating on the handles to keep the wood handles looking new. Apply the oil liberally all over the entire tool, then let sit for 15 minutes. Wipe the excess oil with a clean microfiber cloth.

Storage: Once all your garden tools have been cleaned and treated, store them in a dry, well-ventilated place. We suggest filling a bucket with sand or pebbles and plunging the tools into the bucket for small tools. For larger tools, these can be hung in your shed or garage to save space.

How to Deep Clean Pruners, Shears, and Loppers

pruning shears

Garden tools with blades must be cleaned regularly. We suggest doing this a few days after the harvest season, just as you’re about to store your garden tools for the long winter.

You can get your pruners, shears, and loppers taken apart and deep-cleaned by a professional, or you can do it yourself. Cutting tools like pruners, shears, and loppers have to be taken apart for deep cleaning. It’s easy to take the tool apart, just unscrew the nut that holds the blades together, then wash the parts with soapy water.

Soak in a water and vinegar solution, scrub with steel wool to remove grime and rust, then soak in a bleach and water solution to sanitize. Wipe dry with a clean microfiber cloth, leave to air dry for at least 30 minutes, then treat with plant-based oils. Reassemble the garden tools, and they are ready for storage.

IMPORTANT: Some tools do not work the same way again after being taken apart and reassembled. Unless you’ve had experience disassembling your cutting tools, leave the deep cleaning to the professionals.

How to Sharpen Your Tools

pruning shears

You can invest in a pruner-sharpening tool to sharpen your tools or have these professionally sharpened. Keeping your bladed tools nice and sharp is just as important because dull blades are harmful to plants. When the blades are dull, they tend to crush the stems and branches instead of making a clean cut. This will hurt the plants and increase the chances of pests and diseases setting in.

Pruners, loppers, and shears should be sharpened before storage before the winter months. Once the growing season rolls in, you have to inspect the blades first before using the tools. Hoes, shovels, and knives have to be sharpened too. You can use a sharpening file then a sharpening stone to keep the blades as sharp as possible before use.

To start, wear protective gear like gloves and eye protection to avoid injury. Begin with a file or sharpener, push the sharpening tool in the same direction across the blade. Never go back and forth when sharpening the blade, and always follow the original bevel angle.

Check for cracks or dents, smooth these out as well as the field edges with the sharpening stone, then wipe with a damp, clean cloth, then treat with plant-based oil.

Cleaning Your Gardening Tools

ecogardener gardening tools

Cleaning your garden tools takes a lot of work, but this will boost the life of your tools. Remember, these tools aren’t exactly cheap, so you need to maintain them on a regular basis. Looking for heavy-duty garden tools? We’ve got all the essentials on our online store, get yours today!