How to clean hand tools
As part of your gardening routine, get into the habit of regularly cleaning your tools after use.
Cultivation tools (spades, hoes, forks, rakes and trowels)
- Use a stiff scrubbing brush to remove any soil from the blade and shaft
- Extremely muddy tools may need a wash down with a hose before drying with an old towel. Drying prevents wooden handles from absorbing water and swelling and metal from rusting
- Traditionally after cleaning, tools were oiled with a thin protective film of general purpose oil, to help prevent rusting. Many modern tools are made from stainless steel, which is less likely to rust. However this does depend on the quality of the metal. Occasional oiling may be required
Cutting tools (secateurs, knives, loppers, pruning saws and all types of shears)
Blades of pruning tools become gummed up with the sap of the plants you are pruning attracting grime to the blade. This build up affects performance, causing blades to stick together over time.
- Clean off dried-on sap with a nylon pan scourer or wire wool. Use a penetrating oil and water-displacing spray such as WD-40 to help loosen the grime
- Once the metal is clear and smooth, wipe off the remaining WD-40 with a clean cloth
- Tighten any loose working parts and drop some oil into the central pivot point, opening and closing it to work the oil in
- Store in a clean dry place
Wear gloves when using oil products to prevent skin irritation or splinters from wire wool.