Well done, buddy, you’ve finished another year of gardening! We hate to break it to you though, your garden tools could use some love! There’s a ton to do in the garden to prepare for the spectacular spring awakening you have planned, but your garden tools are feeling a little worse for wear. 

The fact is, dirty garden tools are a big problem. If they’re encrusted in soil, sap, and plant matter, you risk spreading disease to other plants the next time you use them. They might also get rusty if left uncleaned and exposed to the elements, and you’ll have to replace them earlier than expected. 


Dees Nursery-Long Island-How to Maintain Your Garden Tools-dirty shovelTreat your garden tools like your kitchen utensils. You couldn’t use a chef’s knife to cut food and then not wash it before the next meal the following day—at least, we hope not! Just like a kitchen should be kept clean for everyone’s safety and comfort, the same rules apply to your garden tools. Here’s our list of maintenance and restoration tips for your gardening tools. 


Cleaning Tip #1 – Keep Your Gardening Tools Sanitized

In an ideal world, you should clean garden tools every time you finish using them; this isn’t just to remove soil but also any bacteria, fungi, or pests that might be hitching a ride to the next plant. At the end of the growing season, it’s crucial to inspect your gardening tools before cleaning and storing them thoroughly. 

How to Sanitize Your Gardening Tools

Fill a bucket with one part bleach and nine parts water. Dip your tools in the mixture to disinfect them, and allow them to soak for 10 minutes. Next, dry them well with a cloth.

Tip: You can reuse this mixture during the growing season and easily sanitize tools between uses. 


Dees Nursery-Long Island-How to Maintain Your Garden Tools-steel wool clean rustCleaning Tip #2 – Cleaning Rust from Your Gardening Tools

Now that you’ve sanitized your tools, you’ll want to look for signs of rust or pitting. It’s important to ensure rust doesn’t build up on your gardening tools, as rusty tools can damage your plants. Plus, frequently replacing rusty tools can be tough on the wallet. 

How to Restore Rusty Tools

To clean rust off your gardening tools, take steel wool or a stiff wire brush and coat the gardening tool lightly with vegetable oil. The oil should help break up the rust as you gently scrub away. 


Cleaning Tip #3 – Remove Plant Matter from Your Tools

When you’ve finished rust busting, the next step is to remove any residual soil or sap that might still be clinging on for dear life. It’s important to remove all dirt, sap, and plant matter, as it prevents the spread of disease and the risk of rust.

How to Clean Your Gardening Tools

Do your tools feel sticky to the touch? There might be some sap or insect residue lingering about. To clean it off, you’ll need turpentine, lighter fluid, or some of that adequately-named ‘Goo-Gone.’ Use an old cloth, dip it into your cleaner of choice, and carefully wipe down the tool.

Tip: Make sure you wipe down the tool’s hinged areas, as those spots are more likely to harbor plant or insect matter. 


Dees Nursery-Long Island-How to Maintain Your Garden Tools-linseed oil tool handleCleaning Tip #4 – Oil Your Gardening Tools

If you’d like to go one step further and make your tools look brand-spanking-new again, then oiling them up is the answer. Oiling your tools doesn’t just help with aesthetics but also acts as a water repellent and ensures that tools, such as pruners, have an easy time cutting through stems and branches. 

How to Oil Your Gardening Tools 

For this step, you’ll need some linseed oil, which is extracted from flax seed. It’s also used in wood, tile, and concrete preservation tasks. Take a cloth and rub the tools with the oil. If any of your gardening tools have wooden handles, linseed is an all-natural oil that will help make old tools look new again.

As a family-run business, we’ve got one of the largest selections of lawn and garden products on Long Island, gardening tools and cleaners included. Come by and chat all things tools with us at Dees’ Nursery in Oceanside, NY!