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Guide to Cleaning Your Garden tools

To keep your garden tools performing well and in good condition, you must regularly clean them. Additionally, garden tool hygiene will help to avoid diseases spreading including Phytophthora. You should aim to clean your tools after every use, and it is especially important to give them a deep scrub at the end of the season.

If you forget to clean your tools correctly after use they will become rusty and perform worse. If you stay on top of cleaning your tools it doesn’t take too much time and is easier to manage. Alongside cleaning your garden tools you should also clean your garden pots to prevent contamination.

How to clean cutting tools:

Cutting tools include loppers, secateurs, garden knives, and hedge shears. It is important to keep these instruments clean as the sap of plants can stick to the blades making them sticky and less efficient.

Step one 

If you can, dissemble your cutting tools to get a more thorough clean.

Step two 

Scrape off dried sap using a wire brush or soak off the plant fluid using either WD-40 or an alternative water-displacing spray. Alternatively, soak the tools in a bucket of hot water mixed with washing-up liquid for 15 minutes.

Step three 

Rinse off any debris and buff the tools with steel wool.

Step four 

Finally wipe down the tool using a clean cloth. The metal should now be smooth. If it is not repeat the previous process.

Steps to cleaning cultivation tools:

Cultivation tools include rakeshoesforkshand trowels, and spades. These tools may become especially muddy.

Step one 

Remove any soil by scrubbing it off using a stiff scrubbing brush. If the tool is particularly muddy you may want to forcefully wash it using a hose.

Step two 

Dry down the tool using a towel or clean cloth to prevent the metal rusting and the wooden handles from swelling up.

Step three 

It is important to occasionally oil the tools after cleaning to create a thin protective barrier that will help prolong their life. The tools we sell on our site are made using stainless steel and therefore require this less regularly.

Disinfecting gardening tools and general care:

You may also opt to clean your tools by safely sterilizing them using rubbing alcohol. You could pour the liquid into a spray bottle for easy use. Simply spray each side of your blades to sanitize them. This will ensure the tools are properly disinfected, to prevent diseases from spreading. If working with diseased plants you may want to keep a bucket with chlorine bleach and water with you to easily disinfect the tools before moving on to the next plant.

Ensure you properly dry the wooden handles otherwise they may loosen themselves from their metal counterpart. you even risk the wooden handles drying out and splitting. To avoid this you should also consider oiling the handles to create a protective wall. 

You should also consider sharpening your tools a few times a year to keep them in good condition. Check out our guide to Sharpening Your Garden Tools for more information on this. Alternatively, take a look at our Beginners Guide to Gardening Tools for a more general overview.

Storing your tools after they have been cleaned:

Ensure you store your tools properly in a suitable place to prevent them from getting dirty again or rusting. If you leave them outside exposed to rain you risk ruining them or shortening their life. After returning the tools after use to their correct place.

To avoid rusting you may choose to keep small hand tools such as trowels in a large flower pot filled with sand and vegetable oil. After properly cleaning your garden tools dip the metal end into the mixture and allow them to stand. Here they should stay rust-free.

Updated on August 14, 2023

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