The pruning shears that you use in the garden can get dirty really quickly from all kinds of horticultural gunk building up on them. Read on to find out how to clean pruning shears so you can keep yours in tip-top shape!
I’ll admit that I have a pair of garden clippers that are absolutely perfect for a blog post on how to clean pruning shears because they’re just in a really sad state. I’ve probably had these for about ten years now and they’ve been a really reliable companion for garden clean up and flower gathering over that time. I’ve given them a wipe down every now and then, but that’s about it. These pruning shears don’t show any sign of needing to be replaced any time soon, so I thought it was about time I started treating them with the respect they deserve and give them a good cleaning!
It’s important to get into a good routine for cleaning your pruning shears because not only do they not look as beautiful as they once did when they’re all gummed up, but all that sap and dirt can cause them to work less efficiently. This can definitely lead to frustration on your part when you’re out working in the garden.
How to Clean Pruning Shears
If your pruning shears look a little like mine, you’ll want to follow a three step process:
Start out by soaking your pruning shears in a tub of warm water with a little bit of dish soap in it for about ten minutes.
When they’re done with their bath, take your pruning shears out get ready to get rid of all of that grimy build-up. A lot of people recommend a wire brush for this, but I find a little green scrubby to be much more convenient. These scrubbies are something I always have on-hand and they make it easy to get into all of the nooks and crannies.
As kind of a bonus step, I took a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol and wiped down the blades to help remove any leftover sticky residue and also to disinfect the blades.
The final step is to give your pruning shears a light coating of oil. This will protect them from rust and make the moving parts glide more smoothly. You can either use something like WD-40 or regular vegetable oil will work too. I used olive oil because that’s what we had in the cupboard!
Apply a generous coating of the oil, working it into all of the moving parts as well as you can, then remove the excess with a clean, dry cloth.
How to Clean Pruning Shears: When Should it be Done?
So how often should you clean your pruning shears? The experts will tell you that you really should clean them each and every time you use them to prevent the transfer of disease and bacteria between plants and to keep them in good working order. This idea might be a little bit ambitious for most casual backyard gardeners though, so I’d say that a good rule of thumb is to give them a good cleaning at least a couple of times per season, or when you’ve cut something particularly sticky and you can see that you have potential for some grimy build-up to happen.
If you want to stay on top of it on a regular basis, a good short cut is to wipe the blades down quickly with the rubbing alcohol in between more thorough cleanings.
So that’s all there is to it! A pretty simple little housekeeping task for gardeners, but one that can prevent a lot of future trouble!
Do you have any thoughts to add on how to clean pruning shears?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.