|Image: Gibby's Garden|
With summer drawing to a close, most of us are diligently collecting our garden tools and placing them in the shed to be stored over the long winter months. Before hanging each tool in its specified slot, it’s important to make sure they are nice and clean. Cleaning garden tools removes dirt and debris, prevents rust and helps them to last longer.
Benefits of Cleaning Garden Tools
- Last Longer
- Prevents Rust
- Stay Sharper
- Prevents Disease from Spreading
- Stops Eggs/Weed Seed from Transferring
- Wire Brush: Scrub away rust
- Garden Hose: Wash away dirt/debris
- Cotton Rag: Used for drying
- Motor Oil: Prevents Rust
- Mill File: Sharpen tools
- Honing Stone: Sharpen tools
- Safety Goggles: Eye protection
- Work Gloves: Hand protection
Cleaning Dirty Garden Tools
Set the hose to a strong spray and rinse away all dirt and debris. This should be done after each use if tools are dirty. For stubborn, heavier soils like clay, use a wire brush to scrape the tools first and then the hose to wash away any remaining dirt.
After each cleaning wipe down the tools with a dry cotton cloth. After cleaning steal garden tools, wipe them down with a little motor oil dabbed onto a clean, thick cotton cloth. Motor oil helps prevent rust, making tools last longer.
Cleaning Rusty Garden Tools
To clean rust from garden tools, use a wire brush. Put on a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying rust particles and with strong, swift strokes, brush away as much rust as you can. Rinse away loose rust particles with a strong spray from the hose, pat dry and rub down with motor oil. A thin coat of motor oil is all that is needed to prevent rust.
Sharpen Garden Tools
Sharp garden tools make working in the garden a more productive and efficient experience. You can sharpen your own tools at home with a hard file or honing stone, both of which can be found in hardware stores.
To sharpen tools like spades and axes, use a mill file. Use a vice to hold the garden tool or get a good grip on it with one of your hands. Wearing your work gloves, hold the file at an angle and push it away from you along the edge of the tool.
To sharpen garden tools like shears and loppers, use a honing stone. Firmly hold the gardening tool or place it in a vice to free up both hands. Going in one direction, slide the honing stone along the tool’s edge until sharp. Always sharpen in the same direction for even results.
Store Garden Tools Properly
Always tuck your garden tools away in the shed or garage between uses and especially during the winter. Keeping tools out of the elements such as rain and snow extends their life span, prevents rust and keeps them in better shape.
With a few supplies that can be used over and over again, cleaning garden tools is easy. Taking some time at the end of the growing season to clean and sharpen your tools will keep them in good working order for use next year. Plus, it’ll save you some cash from having to buy new gardening tools.
Reference: "Clean, Sharp Tools Work Better." - Fine Gardening Article. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2012. <http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/sharpening-cleaning-tools.aspx>.