How to clean garden tools properly

Properly cleaning your garden tools will not only help elongate their usable life, but will also avoid rust, damage, and lack of usability over time. Knowing how to clean garden tools properly will allow you to use the tools for their intended purposes, and will also allow you to keep the tools for several years to come. Proper care preserves your tools, and helps you avoid wasting money on new tools ever couple of years, due to rust, or other types of damage.

How to clean garden tools properly - Northside Tool Rental

What you need

Whether it is a shovel, hoe, pruning shears or any other tools, you need the right items to clean the tools. The items you will need to clean your tools include:

  • A hose with a nozzle.
  • A putty knife.
  • Old towels and gloves to keep your hands clean.
  • Steel wool, a soft rag, and household oil, to help shine and restore.


Not only are these items going to allow you to deep clean your tools. they also help avoid a big mess when cleaning. And, having the right items in place, will allow you to care for and maintain all of your tools, as needed.

Cleaning process

You will first use the putty knife, to scrape off any mud, dirt, or other loose debris on the outside of the tools. This will make a smooth, flat surface for polishing, and shining the tools. You will then use the hose nozzle, at the highest setting, to get off remaining debris and loose pieces of dirt. On a powerful setting you can also get out deep set in dirt, or pieces of debris, chipped paint, and other loose items, when cleaning your garden tools.

Using the old towel you will then wipe down the tools, in order to have a dry, smooth surface, for polishing. If you notice any rust on the garden tools, this is where you will use the steel wool; lightly using the wool pads you can eliminate rust. Once you finish this process, you will then hose down the surface, and completely dry it off. Gloves can be worn to avoid getting rust stains on your hands while using the steel wool pads as a sanding base.


If your tools are stored away for the winter season, after removing the rust, it is a good idea to use a household oil of some kind, in order to preserve the steel handles. Using WD 40, or a similar cleaning oil, is going to help keep the handles and metal parts shiny, but will also help prevent rust build up, in the event the tools get wet when you put them away for storage. Simply place a small amount of the WD 40, or any household oil on the small rag, and apply the thin coat directly to the metal surfaces you are wiping down. In idea to preventing rust, the oil also preserves the shine. Even if you use your tools regularly, it is a good idea to use the oil on metal surfaces, every four to six months, to keep your tools looking like they are brand new.

Rust removers

Using WD 40 or cleaning oils to help preserve, and eliminate the possibility of rust is one thing; but, if your tools do rust over, there are some regular, unexpected items to help remove rust. Tea or glycerin are some great options to help remove rust; club soda and hydrogen peroxide also work to disinfect, and help restore the shine to rusted metal. Regardless of how bad the tools look, it is possible to restore the natural shine, and restore your tools you thought might have seen the end of their useful days.

Properly cleaning your tools, will not only help keep them shiny and looking new, it will also preserve the quality and durability of your tools. If too much rust damage occurs, you are eventually going to have to throw out the tools and replace them. Although you can eliminate rust, it is a much better idea to maintain your tools. Doing so will not only help keep them shiny and looking new, but will also help save you money, since you don’t have to replace your tools often when you properly maintain them.