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4-7 Steps to Keep Your Garden Tools Like New

photo of garden hand tools
Photo by John Bogna on Unsplash

These are the steps to get your tools looking like new again. If they're already new and you want to avoid these steps, scroll down! You can avoid a lot of work by starting off right with my tips for storing your tools correctly.

  1. Rinse or wash with a little soap and then rinse to get off any mud residue.

  2. Dry with a cloth or paper towel.

  3. Sharpen if needed, and if any rust remains, use a wire brush, steel wool or sandpaper to get rid of every speck of rust.

  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 if there was rust.

  5. Place in front of a heater or fan or use a hair dryer to get air into tight places if you find that you can’t get the water out of the hinges.

  6. Use rubbing alcohol on blades and hinges and let that air dry. That will sterilize the blades and won’t cause more rust as bleach will.

  7. Rub with a thin coat of plant-based oil if used for food plants, or if not, any type of oil or grease. Even though WD40 is recommended by many, I only use it on the hinges of troublesome garden tools that tend to stick. If you keep your tools clean, that’s not usually a problem.

For daily and long-term storage, you can use this easy tip to avoid all the above steps:

Fill a five gallon bucket with playground sand and add the oil of your choice (#7 above) just until the sand is oily when mixed (a quart or two of oil.) When you are finished using a tool, brush off all loose soil and plunge it down into the sand/oil mixture, making sure the metal is coated. I keep a wire brush (the kind used to scrape loose paint) in the bucket to bring the sand up to the top of tools that won't go down into the sand far enough. I've been doing this for several years and each year I open up my garden shed to find tools waiting with not a bit of rust.

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