ISSUE 33  |  Summer Cottages

DIY: How to Clean and Care for Garden Pruners

January 20, 2016 11:00 AM

BY Erin Boyle

Like most things in your garden, tools need a little loving care to keep them happy. Before you start cleaning up the garden, here are a few tips for cleaning and caring for your pruners.

Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.


Above: Pruner maintenance depends on which brand you own. These Handmade Japanese Garden Pruners are $109 from Kaufmann Mercantile. They’re not stainless steel, so they need more care than the average pruners, but we think all pruners enjoy a little attention.

For a roundup of our favorite pruners, see 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Pruners.


Above: Get in the habit of giving your pruners a good wash after each use. If I make only a few snips I’m sometimes tempted to forgo washing—but cutting even one stem can leave sap and plant residue that will damage pruners in the long run.

garden-pruners-3-gardenistaAbove: Usually, warm soapy water is all you need to wash your pruners. Same goes for garden scissors and other metal garden tools.


Above: After washing, dry the pruners well to prevent rusting.


Above: If you notice any rust, remove it with linseed oil and a small wire brush, then wash your pruners well to prevent a sticky film from forming. Linseed oil is also an excellent protectant for wood-handled garden tools.

A liter of Boiled Linseed Oil is $21.50 from Solvent Free Paint.


Above: Even for tools that aren’t prone to rust, it’s a good idea to wipe them down with oil after cleaning them. Some people rely on motor oil or mineral oil, but I just use household vegetable oil to keep them lubricated.

Wondering how to put those pruners to good use? See Gardening 101: How to Prune a Rose Bush. For more on tool maintenance, see 5 Favorites: Tool Sharpeners.

N.B.: This is an update of a post published June 10, 2013.