Winter may seem like the doldrums if you’re a gardener who doesn’t have a 12-month growing season, but there are still plenty of garden chores to be done! Spring really isn’t too far away, and getting your tools and garden prepped for the spring will set you up for success come growing season.
Cleaning garden tools has never been high on my list of priorities. As long as the garden was growing well, I never worried much about my tools. Until recently. My trusty garden spade started showing signs of rust, and I knew that my poor maintenance habits were to blame. I would occasionally leave tools out in the garden or along the garden fence without a care in the world. This resulted in rust on several tools and my favorite pair of pruners now having chewed up handles thanks to our newest pup, Olive. (She’s also quite the digger, which is a new experience for me. Any suggestions on how to keep her digging in a specific location? I digress.)
How to Clean Garden Tools
I think I imagined that cleaning my tools was going to be a weary task, but really, I’ve discovered that it isn’t difficult or time consuming. By keeping a few items handy, I can quickly keep my tools in good working order and hopefully make them last longer. Here’s what you’ll need for cleaning garden tools:
- To remove excess dirt and debris from your garden tools, use a stiff bristled brush. Or if the dirt on your tools is fairly wet, you could even spray them off with a high pressured hose setting. If you’re just cleaning off your tools for the day, you can simply complete this step as quick daily maintenance. Be sure if you are hosing off for the day to dry off your tools with a dry cloth.
- To go beyond daily cleaning, gently wash your tools in a bucket of warm soapy water. Rinse well and pat dry with a cloth.
- Once tools are completely dry, apply Linseed oil if needed. The Linseed oil provides a barrier that can help protect your tools from moisture damage. This is an optional step if you’d like to provide additional protection for your garden tools. Please read the side of the bottle for information on how to store rags that you use to apply linseed oil. They do need to be properly stored. In some cases there have been combustion issues with carelessly stored rags saturated with linseed oil.
- Hang tools. This gives them even more opportunity to dry and keeps them from being stored on top of dirty tools. It’s also nice when things have a place, right?
- Store them in a dry place. As convenient as it is to have tools ready in the garden, unless you have a dry tool storage option in your garden, bring tools inside. This can be a shed or garage, but you certainly don’t want to leave them out in the elements.
How Often Should You Clean Garden Tools?
This is a great question, and if you watch my video below, you’ll see I haven’t always been a great caretaker of garden tools. But if you’re in the height of garden season, and you’re using tools on a daily basis, then try to brush or spray the dirt of every few days or so. And give your tools a better cleaning every few weeks. I promise it will extend the life of your tools, unless you let your dog chew them up. Ha!
I can raise my hand for this as well. If you simply want lower maintenance tools, then do consider buying stainless steel garden tools. These should be resistant to rust and can hold up well for even the most non-motivated garden tool cleaners. I actually purchased a stainless garden spade myself and am loving the low maintenance. I hope to slowly add more stainless to my garden tool arsenal. Here’s a 3-piece hand tool set I’m thinking about for the spring:
I’ve created a short video of how to clean your garden tools, so if you’d like to “see” me talk you through it, then take a peek. Have a great week and happy gardening!!