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Save money by keeping your garden tools in shape with these tips

Jessica K. of Windsor asks: Do you have some suggestions on how to clean my new and used garden tools?

Keeping your gardening tools clean helps prevent rust, keeps the edges sharp and removes caked-on soil and sap. Good tools can be expensive, so to avoid the need for frequent replacement, keep them clean and in good working order.

All garden tools should be cleaned and wiped down after use to remove soil. If you won’t be using certain tools for awhile, give them a thorough cleaning and inspection before storing them. If pruners or saws are used to prune or remove a diseased plant, they should be cleaned and disinfected before using them on a healthy plant. A squirt of Lysol spray will work. Some gardeners say dipping the tool in bleach diluted with water and wiping it dry, before using it on the next plant, also works. But be aware that bleach can damage blades, so be sure to rinse and clean the tool thoroughly when you’re done.

Use a strong spray from the garden hose to remove soil. Scrape off stuck-on mud with a trowel or plastic scraper. To remove residual soil, fill a bucket with hot water and add about one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid per gallon of water. After removing the stuck-on soil, place the tools in the bucket and let them soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse the tools and dry them with a microfiber cloth or an old towel. Look over each tool thoroughly for signs of rust. If you spot rust or pitting, use a stiff wire brush or steel wool to scrub it off. Wipe the tool with a little vegetable oil to help loosen the rust while you scrub it off. If any tool feels sticky, the safest product to remove