How to Clean and Care for Your Garden Tools in 8 Easy Steps

The first step in creating a beautiful yard is having the right tools. Keep your garden gear in great shape year-round with our top cleaning and sanitizing tips.

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Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Grungy Garden Tools Get a Seasonal Scrub

After multiple seasons of gardening wear and tear, it's time to give your beloved tools a good scrub-down. Here's what you'll need to get the job done: gardening gloves, putty knife, steel wool, 3 1/2 gallon plastic bucket, 1 Tbsp. dish soap, 2 cups bleach, 1 cup vegetable oil, 5 oz. can lighter fluid, all-purpose play sand, bleach-free disinfecting wipes, old towels, garden hose

Remove Dirt

Using a powerful garden hose, knock the dirt off and go after any stubborn caked-on dirt with a putty knife.

Remove Rust

If your tools have any rust, give those areas a good scrub with steel wool.

Remove Sap

Dab a bit of lighter fluid onto a cloth and wipe the tools to remove sap.

Soak Tools

Once the caked-on dirt and grime have been removed, give the tools a good soak in a bucket of hot water. Add dish soap for an extra boost of cleaning power.

Rinse + Dry

Rinse with clean water, then dry the tools with an old towel. Putting the tools away wet will cause them to rust prematurely.

Cleaning Maintenance

Keep the tools in good shape year-round with a "quick clean" bucket. Fill the bucket with sand and one cup of vegetable oil, then dip larger tools in the bucket at the end of a heavy gardening day to remove dirt and protect the finish.


If you have plants with fungal or bacterial problems, you should periodically disinfect your garden tools. Keep bleach-free disinfectant wipes handy to remove sap, bacteria or fungus from shears, so you don’t spread anything from plant to plant through your garden tools.

Sanitizing Soak

A quick soak in a bleach solution (two cups of bleach for every one gallon of water) can help curb the spread of annoying infestations. Just be sure to rinse and dry the tools thoroughly.

Spick + Span

Now your sparkling tools are ready to dig in the dirt again!

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