Cleaning and Storing Garden Tools

Digging tools and pruners require regular cleaning and adequate storage to keep blades sharp and prevent rust.

Clean Tools After Using on Individual Plants

Clean Tools After Using on Individual Plants

Clean garden tools after using them on individual plants to help prevent the spread of disease from plant to plant.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Clean garden tools after using them on individual plants to help prevent the spread of disease from plant to plant.

Sharp blades ensure cleaner cuts when pruning and trimming. Pruners need frequent sharpening, as pruning soon blunts the blade. Good-quality models are easy to take apart, which makes cleaning and sharpening easier, and allows a damaged blade to be replaced.

Knives are often better than pruners for delicate jobs, and should be cleaned, oiled, and sharpened in the same way. Keep a pocket-sized sharpening steel ready to sharpen your blade as you work. Use a special tool or a metal file to sharpen shears. Sharpen only the beveled cutting edge, and tighten the screw holding the blades together. 

Cleaning and Disinfecting Garden Tools

Disinfecting tools  — especially pruners — after each use also prevents the spread of plant diseases. Dip or wipe the tools thoroughly with a 1-5 solution of chlorine bleach or Lysol. Bleach-free wipes are another good option, as well as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

  1. To clean pruner blades, spray on some lubricant or household cleaner to remove any dirt and sap, and then wipe it off with a tissue. For dried-on sap, use a scourer or fine-grade steel wool and metal polish. 

  2. Smear lubricant or light oil onto the bevel-edged blade and lightly rub it off with a nylon scourer or fine-grade steel wool. This helps prevent rusting and keeps the blade smooth between sharpenings. 

  3. Sharpen the blade with an oilstone or a diamond sharpening tool. Hold it at the same angle as the beveled edge and draw it across the edge. Gently rub the flat side of the blade to remove any burrs, and then oil the blades. 

Caring for Cultivation Tools 

The majority of digging tools are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel. In order to prevent carbon steel from rusting, it is important to clean and oil your tools regularly. Carbon steel Dutch hoes and spades will slide through soil more easily if you sharpen them occasionally. Some tools have a nonstick coating, but this may eventually wear off. Although stainless steel tools are a bit more expensive, they are worth the money; they are long-lasting, do not rust, and make digging easier, because they cut through the soil cleanly and it does not stick to the blade. All metal tools, including spades, forks, hand trowels, and rakes, need cleaning after use, before you put them away. Brush off any soil, wash, and dry thoroughly.

Storing Your Tools 

Keep your tools in the garage or storage shed. Always clean off soil from digging tools before putting them away, and clean and wipe down cutting blades with an oily rag. This will prolong the life of the tools. Invest in hooks, racks, and shelves, or make them yourself out of recycled lumber, and get into the habit of hanging up your tools after use and coiling electrical cords neatly. Also clean and stack pots and bundle canes together before storing. By keeping your storage space neat, you will be able to fit more in, find what you need quickly, and avoid unnecessary hazards.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Protect and Store Garden Tools for Winter

A little maintenance at the end of the growing season can help tools last for years.

Learn How to Restore Garden Tool Handles

Give your garden tools a little TLC with simple steps to make them shine like new.

Choosing and Caring for Your Garden Tools

The equipment you need to get the job done.

Cleaning and Sharpening Tools

Regular care will help your garden tools last longer and perform better. Follow these steps to keep your tools in top condition all season long.

The Right Tools for the Right Job: Essential Equipment for Arranging and Maintaining Your Flowers from HGTV

You don't need to spend a fortune to condition flowers, arrange them properly and maintain them. All you need to make the design of your dreams are a few essential supplies.

Protect Your Hands: 5 Types of Garden Gloves

Choose the right material for your specific gardening needs.

How to Hide and Store Gardening Equipment

Master Gardener Paul James offers clever ways to store and hide your gardening tools — without cluttering up your garage.

Garden Hose 101

Brush up on the basics of garden hoses—and discover how to choose the right hose for your yard and garden.

Garden Round-Up: Editors' Picks

Find out what new, clever, useful garden items HGTV editors are loving.

5 Surprising Ways to Save Money on Gardening Supplies

HGTV blogger Meagan Francis describes clever ways to get the most out of your gardening dollar.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.