How To Clean My Garden Tools? Easy Step Guide

garden tools

The best tools in the best condition are essential for creating a beautiful garden, as any gardener with a green thumb knows.

Ideally, after each use, gardening tools require routine cleaning. Cleaning gardening equipment removes disease-filled soil and sap, keeps edges sharp, and helps prevent rust from forming. Cleaning garden tools help prevent cross-contamination from fungus, aphids, and other issues that can prevent plants from thriving.

By establishing a straightforward tool cleaning station in your yard, you can quickly clean your gardening tools (and have them automatically sharpened). Let’s get started learning how to clean with this article.

How Often Should You Clean Garden Tools?

Gardening equipment should ideally be cleaned to remove soil after each use. At the conclusion of the growing season, it is crucial to give each tool a thorough cleaning and inspection before putting it away.

Keep a bucket in the garden with one part chlorine bleach and nine parts water so that you can disinfect the tools by dipping them in the solution and drying them thoroughly before using them to work on the next plant. If tools are used to prune or remove a diseased plant, they should be cleaned immediately before being used to work around a healthy plant.

Things You’ll Need When Cleaning Garden Tools

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden hose
  • Putty knife or plastic scraper
  • Stiff wire brush or steel wool
  • Old cloths
  • Bucket(s)


  • Chlorine bleach
  • Turpentine, lighter fluid, or Goo Gone
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • WD-40
  • Vegetable oil
garden tools

Instructions For Cleaning Garden Tools

Step 1: Clean The Tools

Getting rid of all the dirt that has accumulated over time is the first step in cleaning gardening tools. When sap and dirt are left on gardening tools, they can spread soil-borne diseases and weeds to other areas of your garden. Rust can start to form as a result of dirt’s ability to draw and retain moisture. If your garden tools have any moving parts, make sure to disassemble them first before cleaning. Dust and rust should be removed from all metal surfaces using a wire brush. To get rid of the more difficult rust, try steel wool. A medium-grit sand scraper can also be used if you have some larger tools on hand. To avoid any moisture buildup, make sure to completely dry all the tools.

Step 2: Use Sand Tools

Using medium-grit sandpaper, smooth out all the wooden handles on your garden tools as the second step in cleaning them. This will help get rid of any splinters and the worn-out finish. Any rust that may still be present in the cracks and surfaces can be removed using sandpaper. It helps polish the metal just a little bit as well. It’s crucial to clean the tools after use and get rid of any remaining metal or wood sanding.

Step 3: Sharpen The Pruners

Sharpening your gardening tools comes next after you’ve cleaned them and taken out any excess rust. Pruners and other beveled blades are a good place to start. The beveled side of the blade should be rubbed against the whetstone in a curving motion to create a cutting edge that is razor-sharp. When sharpening, rub the blade’s sharp edge in the direction of the stone while attempting to preserve the original bevel or angle. You should first remove the burrs from the flat surfaces and then go on and sharpen the beveled side of the blade only

Step 4: Sharpen The Remaining Tools

The next step in cleaning your garden tools is to sharpen the other tools after you have finished with the pruners. Tools like loppers, shears, spades, hoes, and shovels can be sharpened using a medium or fine grit. Additionally, after the grits, use a single-cut mill bastard file. Make sure to move the file away from your body at all times. The serrations of the file will become clogged with the buildup of metal fillings if oil is used to sharpen the blades. Depending on the needs of your garden, some tools might need maintenance more frequently than others, but maintaining the sharpness of your tools will keep them working for a longer period of time.

Step 5: Lubricate The Tools

When it comes to cleaning garden tools and preventing corrosion, rust, and moisture damage, this is among the most crucial steps. For garden tools to last a long time, cleaning them is not enough. You also need to lubricate them to protect them from the elements, which can cause corrosion and wear. The best product to lubricate garden tools is WD-40® Multi-Use Product: A straightforward application will increase the lifespan of your garden tools and help to ensure effective performance thanks to its quick-acting and special formula. Additionally, the lubricant shields the garden tools from rust and corrosion all year long.

Step 6: Preventative Maintenance

Take some time out every few months to maintain your garden tools now that you have finished cleaning them and they look brand new. Here are some preventive maintenance suggestions to keep your garden tools clean, dry, and free from rust, corrosion, and dust:

  • Every time you use garden tools, use a garden hose to rinse off any mud. One of the main causes of garden tools rusting is wet soil adhering to the tools.
  • Scrub any tenacious soil off with a scrub brush in a hurry. Pitch and sap can also be eliminated using paint thinner.
  • Before storing the tools, dry them off with a towel or rag. You can leave them in the sun to dry naturally as well.
  • Hang the tools up rather than putting them on their edges.
  • To prevent rust and corrosion, periodically wipe the surface with lubricants like WD-40 Multi-Use Product.
  • After cleaning, gardening tools should be kept in a dry, moisture-free area.

Tips For Keeping Garden Tools

Whether your tools are brand-new or prized family heirlooms, some maintenance and care outside of cleaning can help them function better and last for many years.

  • Store Tools Correctly The majority of gardening tasks are seasonal, but even if you know you’ll be using the shovel, trowel, or shears the following day, don’t leave them in the garden overnight. Return them to your storage area after cleaning them so they can stay dry and, ideally, rust-free. Fill a big flower pot or bucket with sand and add one cup of vegetable oil to keep small trowels and hand tools from rusting and making them difficult to find. Put the metal tool ends into the oiled sand after thoroughly mixing. Larger tools should, if at all possible, be hung from pegboards or hooks to avoid the handles warping and to keep the metal off the wet floor.
  • Care For Wooden Handles Wooden handles on your tools will eventually start to dry out, split, and come away from the metal part. Medium-grit sandpaper should be used to smooth out any rough edges on the handles once or twice a year. Linseed oil should then be applied. Water is deflected by the oil’s addition of a protective barrier. The metal part of the majority of wooden handles can be taken off and a new handle put in its place.
  • Oil Moving Components Any tool with a moving part, such as snips, shears, or pruners, needs oil to keep moving parts operating smoothly. A drop or two of machine oil can be applied to the hinged components to achieve this. It is also beneficial to disassemble these tools once a year and oil all the parts (bolts and screws). This aids in removing any hidden mineral and rust deposits.
  • Sharpen Blades And Edges Shovels, hoes, snips, and pruners are just a few examples of gardening implements that require regular sharpening. A 10-inch flat mill file can be used to sharpen large blades and edges, and a whetstone can be used to sharpen smaller, finer edges. With WD-40, first clean the blades. Following the initial bevel, file the edges at an angle between 20 and 45 degrees. Then, wipe down with a soft cloth to get rid of any remaining metal shavings.

Read More: How to Clean Tools?


Can You Sanitize Your Gardening Tools With Antiseptic Wipes?

Gardening tools can be cleaned with household disinfectant wipes (like Lysol or Clorox), but it is unknown whether they are effective against plant pathogens.

The wipes after opening tend to dry out if they aren’t used frequently, and they are a little more expensive than rubbing alcohol, which is my first choice for disinfecting gardens.

When Lubricating Wooden Handles, Can You Use Olive Oil?

I do not advise treating the handles of your gardening tools with vegetable or olive oils. These non-drying oils can over time become gummy or stale.

I Only Use Stainless Steel Gardening Equipment. Do I Need To Oil Them Still?

Stainless steel simply means that the metal stains less than carbon or alloy steel, which doesn’t mean that it is stain-free. Additionally, some grades of stainless steel are more susceptible to corrosion than others, so if you don’t take good care of your stainless steel tool, it could rust.

It’s simple insurance against rusting (and lots of later elbow grease) to apply a thin layer of oil like 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil to all of your tools, including stainless steel tools.

Read More: How To Organize Tool Box?