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How do you keep your pruners clean and working? — The Grow Network Community
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How do you keep your pruners clean and working?

gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 310 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Tools, Hardware, & Machines

I just had to buy a new set of pruners because my old ones got rusty and I can no longer squeeze them. Both the blade and spring rusted. I must admit I am not very great at taking care of them. What can I do to keep this pair working longer? What is general care for them? How do you sanitize them so things don’t spread?


  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,790 ✭✭✭✭✭


    I keep mine dry, or try to. But before they get too messed up, ie rusted etc I wipe them with oil after making sure they are sun dried for at least a few hours, then keep them put up until next use. I keep mine even when the handles break. Like my shoes, I keep wearing them out lol.

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @gardneto76 This site's complete with needed supplies & pictures tells you everything https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-clean-and-sharpen-your-garden-hand-pruners-4070283

    oh, & btw, I didn't put your name in my response 3 days ago here Remineralizing a continuation of our discussion 🙂

  • JensJens Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @rainbow I too am not good at taking care for these but as @gardneto76 I try to keep them dry. And after the season I wipe them down with some oil. I have a model we're I can change the spring in case it is rusted to death or broken.

    If the blades are more dirty than usual I scrape then on the inside with an old knives to get all sticky residues off. The remaining is taken care of when sharpening the blades.

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 310 ✭✭✭

    Yeah my spring is so rusty it is orange. I put the replacement spring in a ziplock bag to protect it, only to find it looks rusty too. The blades are covered in sticky stuff. I thought I heard somewhere about using rubbing alcohol to clean them, but don’t know how to get the rust off the spring and I don’t know the brand to be able to buy new springs. I now have 3 pair 🤪.

    @rainbow thanks for the link I will go read that now and check in on Remineralizing! I am trying to be better about getting on here more often but have just been super busy with life.

  • I read that you could put sand in a bucket with mineral oil and dip you garden tools in it to clean and protect them. I'm considering doing that...what are you'all's thoughts on it?

  • JensJens Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy when I was younger the dad of a friend of mine had a car shop and used to use the spent oil for exactly this purpose for their garden tools. You can stick your spate or fork into it and of course also the pruners.

    The sand is doing the cleaning and the oil the care but the big disadvantage is that mineral oil is not that healthy for you or the environment

  • @Jens thank you. Yes the mineral oil is not good. I need to read up a bit and see what else I can use. I do use mineral oil for stored cast iron but it gets a thorough wash before it is used for food. I need to go back up and check the link rainbow posted lol.

  • MelindaMelinda Greater Atlanta AreaPosts: 124 ✭✭✭

    Would flax seed oil work as well as mineral oil?

  • nksunshine27nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 336 ✭✭✭

    I rinse them with vinegar them water and dry. if they are rusty soak in vinegar. but if you keep them dry and put away they will stay a long time and i sharpen mine. also i 'v e use vegtable oil on them sometimes or sewing machine oil

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 454 ✭✭✭✭

    I have been guilty of not caring for my tools when I started gardening, there was just so much to remember! But I have now had my favorite go-to pruners for 11 years and 2 other pairs between 5 and 6 years. I have several pairs...I have a small blade for herbs, I have a pair that gets used to cut roots Which chews the heck out of the blade (from overgrown pots to irrigation repair) and another pair dedicated to cutting slugs in half (almost impossible to get all that slime off!) and then of course my go-to that does everything else!

    I keep a small spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol and a handful of cotton swabs in my garden cart or in my pocket any time I’m out with pruners. I wipe the blades down between each plant so Disease/fungus is not spread. Then I spray them with chainsaw oil (just the hinges and springs) and let them dry. If it’s a muddy day or I came across a nasty garden bug then I wash them with hot water and soap before I oil them up. Also I don’t oil after EVERY use especially in summer when I will likely use them again soon, but in winter when they sit for a week or more I oil them more often.

    I live a block away from the ocean so I keep my pruners inside by my front door (for convenience as well as protection from rust) but I do keep a bucket of sand with a 1/4 cup of mineral oil (I just use the food grade kind that I add to my smoothies or sip by the spoonful) for my loppers and other small hand tools. They don’t get rusty and the first cuts/digs are smooth as butter!

    And I ALWAYS sharpen every tool in the shed every October. But my pruners get a lot of use so I might sharpen them mid-summer too.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 311 ✭✭✭

    At the end of the day, it's hard remember to make time for cleaning the tools.

    I sharpen my hand pruners weekly. Put a little oil on them as needed.

    Sharpening more often, means less time sharpening them later on.

    Even though the winters are months long, we still do pruning.

    great ideas on using vinegar @nksunshine27

    Love teh bucket with the mineral oil idea. @herbantherapy We just might start this! =)

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    @gardneto76 I use rubbing alcohol to clean my pruners, but you can also use a bleach solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water and soak the pruners for 2 minutes. Then rinse them off and wash with soap and water to get all the bleach off so it doesn't corrode the metal. Then rub them with machine oil (I use 3-in-1 oil). I oil the spring too on a regular basis to keep it working.

    @Hassena How do you sharpen your pruners?

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 311 ✭✭✭

    good day @Leslie Carl

    I use a stone soaked in water. my hand pruners and loppers have a beveled blade. I run the stone down the front and back side a few times each. then add the oil.

    for my soil knife, I use a belt sander.

    I've used a dremel. but I keep losing pieces...just a stone's throw away. :)

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    The easiest way I've found which works well for me, (especially during blight season which is rampant in my climate here even though I take all kinds of preventative precautions), is I keep a container of half water/half 90 proof rubbling alcohol on my work table ( which I have several small tables placed all thru my garden so I don't waste time walking all over the place). Then I get 2 pairs of pruning shears, use one on a plant and place it in the alcohol water after a finish that plant. Wash my hands quickly in alcohol water and then go to the next plant and use the second pair of shears. Finish it, in the alcohol bath container it goes, wash my hands in alcohol water and pull out the shears which has been soaking.

    If you keep doing this the whole way thru your tomato bed, remember no gloves either otherwise you must change gloves after every bush also... the quick wash down with alcohol/water between each plant prevents any disease spread from plant to plant because of dirty pruners/dirty hands.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    All the comments about oil being used to prevent rust, grab a bucket (for large tools like shovels) and a smaller container for pruners, trowels etc. and fill it about the 3/4 of the way with play sand (thus clean sand, not contractor's sand because it has fillers). After the sand is in then just get the cheap vegetable oil that you used to use in the kitchen before we knew any better.

    Don't worry about getting the expensive variety of oils, vegetable oil works just fine to keep your tools lubricated during the growing season.

  • Sherry ClarkSherry Clark Posts: 5 ✭✭✭

    I keep a small can of oil and a sharpener in my box of garden tools. I oil and sharpen the tools before I start using them. I make sure they get back in the house with me. I've learned the hard way that leaving tools on the ground overnight is a quick way to make them ready for the tool graveyard.

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 454 ✭✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl and @gardneto76 I realized no one actually mentions how to sharpen the tools. As @Hassena says a stone works well. But I found for my pruners and loppers a handheld tool made by corona (any many other manufacturers) works easiest for me. Just makes sure you read the directions and only shave the outside of the blade and not the inside of a bi-pass blade.

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks @Hassena, @herbantherapy for that information! I've had to buy new pruner shears every year because they just won't cut anymore. Never knew what to do to keep them sharp. This should make a big difference!

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 310 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy one set of my pruners came with a sharpening tool just like that!

    My issue is I live in the desert and have been storing my pruners in my garden shed thinking they were safe and dry. I even put the extra spring in a zip lock bag. I discovered my shed roof was leaking right down on top of all my gardening tools. 😭. The springs are so rusted, including the one in the bad, that I can barely squeeze the pruners. I am hunting for the 3-in-1 oil around here somewhere to see if that helps. Sharpening has helped. I desperately need to take them apart and soak/scrub all of the plant gunk off of the blades as well.

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 454 ✭✭✭✭

    @gardneto76 have you tried just soaking them in vinegar for a couple of days then scrubbing off the rust with a toothbrush? I’ve gotten rusty springs cleaned up pretty well with this simple method. It works for the shears/pruners as well but a toothbrush might be tedious for these, they should wipe clean just scrub down in nooks and crannies with a toothbrush😉

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 310 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy no I hot tried it yet. I really need to make use of these rainy days I am having and get that done!

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