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DIY: How to Clean and Care for Garden Pruners

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DIY: How to Clean and Care for Garden Pruners

May 19, 2018

Like most things in your garden, tools need a little loving care to keep them happy. Here are a few easy tips for cleaning and caring for your pruners.

Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.

Pruner maintenance depends on which brand you own. A pair of Tobisho Handmade Pruners A-Style is $9
Above: Pruner maintenance depends on which brand you own. A pair of Tobisho Handmade Pruners A-Style is $92 from Hida Tool. They’re made of carbon steel, so they need more care than stainless steel (but we think all pruners enjoy a little attention).

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

Get in the habit of giving your pruners a good wash after each use. If I make only a few snips I&#8
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.
Usually, warm soapy water is all you need to wash your pruners. Same goes for garden scissors and other metal garden tools.
Above: Usually, warm soapy water is all you need to wash your pruners. Same goes for garden scissors and other metal garden tools.
After washing, dry the pruners well to prevent rusting.
Above: After washing, dry the pruners well to prevent rusting.
If you notice 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.
Above: If you notice 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.

Boiled Linseed Oil is $20 for 32 ounces from Solvent Free Paint.

Even for tools that aren&#8
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 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.

See more clipping and pruning at Boxwood: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design and our curated design guide to Shrubs 101, including Yew, Rosemary, and Privet. Read more about shrub care:

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