How to Clean and Maintain Your Tools

Simple cleaning techniques, plus a little elbow grease and TLC, will add longevity to your garden tools

If you want your tools to last, take the time to clean and maintain them

Clean, sharpen, and maintain your garden tools regularly to prevent rust and keep them in good condition for the upcoming garden season

Here’s an easy and worthwhile task for a rainy day: polish up your garden tools.

Apart from getting major spousal brownie points for just a little effort, those neglected gardening tools slung in an outdoor corner will thank you, too.


  • Clean rags
  • Steel wool
  • Motor oil or WD40 (or in a pinch,
  • you can even use a light cooking oil such as canola)


  1. Use a rag to wipe down all the metal parts, removing grunge and any organic debris. Remove rust with steel wool.
  2. Next, take another clean rag and wipe down any plastic or wooden handles.
  3. Dip the first rag into motor oil and wipe down the moving parts of your tools, including screws, rivets or hinges.
  4. If you’re really keen, protect wooden handles with a light application of tung oil or wood stain and protector.
  5. Allow the tools to dry in a warm dry space and store in a protected area.

An excerpt from Sow Simple by Christina Symons and John Gillespie.