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How to Clean and Sharpen Pruning Shears

Keep your shears shiny with these simple steps. 

Cleaning tools is probably the last thing on your list of chores, but it’s important to keep your pruning shears clean. This can keep them working in pristine order so that you don’t have to invest in a new pair every time they get dirty.

We’ll share a step-by-step guide for cleaning pruning shears, as well as tips on how to sterilize them.

By the end, you’ll know everything there is to know about keeping this garden tool spotless and sharp.

How to Clean Pruning Shears

  1. Take apart the pruning shears.
  2. Soak them overnight in distilled white vinegar if they are rusty. Scrub with a hard-bristled brush to remove rust.
  3. Gently rub with sandpaper to remove stubborn stains.
  4. Wash the shears with warm soapy water and a cloth.
  5. Rinse and dry well.
  6. Put the shears back together.

How to Clean Pruning Shears

There are a few different popular methods for cleaning pruning shears. We’ve put together a guide that encompasses amazing methods to make sure that your pruning shears are as clean as possible.

  1. Disassemble the pruning shears: You can skip this step for quick cleans, but for deep cleans, this is essential. It will help you get in all the nooks and crannies. Take apart the pruning shears (and count the pieces so you don’t lose anything).
  2. Remove rust: First of all, you want to remove rust. If your shears are rusty, soak them in a bucket of distilled white vinegar overnight. In the morning, scrub with a hard-bristled brush to remove the loosened rust.
  3. Sandpaper: The next step is to remove other stubborn stains, whether that’s from mud, plant sap, or other garden debris. Simply take some sandpaper and gently rub the pruning shears to scrape off stuck-on stains.
  4. Wash: Now wash the pruning shears using warm soapy water. You can use dish soap. Scrub well with a cloth.
  5. Rinse: Rinse well and dry them thoroughly.
  6. Put back together: Now, put the pruning shears back together, making sure everything is in the right place.

How Do You Sterilize Pruning Shears?

Over time, lots of nasties, bugs, and bacteria in the garden can coat your pruning shears. So, it’s a good idea to sterilize the pruning shears every so often. Here’s how:

  1. Apply a disinfectant to the tool. You can use outdoor cleaners, such as Jeyes Fluid, to disinfect outdoor tools.
  2. Leave for about 20 minutes, or whatever the packaging instructions suggest.
  3. Wipe off with an old towel.
  4. Dry well.

Don’t Forget

You now need to disinfect the old towel, so make sure to wash it in hot water with a good laundry detergent.

How to Sharpen Garden Shears

Perhaps your garden shears aren’t working the way they used to. The culprit might be that they’ve dulled down. Here’s how to sharpen your garden shears so they can cut through anything again:

  1. Locate the beveled or angled edge. If it’s beveled on both sides, you’ll need to sharpen both sides.
  2. Take a file or stone and lay it on the beveled side, almost parallel to the shear blade.
  3. Apply pressure to the outer edge of the blade. File around the blade going away from you. Lift and repeat. Don’t bring it back and forward. Always move in the same direction.
  4. Keep going until the edge begins to shine, which proves that the blade is sharp again.

When In Doubt

Sharpening a blade can seem like a tricky thing to do, and sometimes, it is. If you’re not sure you’re going to do it properly, hire a professional or take it to someone who can help.

How to Maintain Pruning Shears

As usual, prevention is easier than cure. Here are some ways you can keep your pruning shears in mint condition so you can avoid days restoring your tools.

  1. Sharpen your tools monthly instead of waiting until they’ve dulled down. This will keep them working perfectly — and you’ll become an expert in sharpening!
  2. Oil all the moving parts. WD-40 can work well for this. This will just keep the shears in great working order.
  3. Quickly clean your shears after each use. Even wiping them down with a damp cloth can prevent nasty build-up over time.
  4. Always dry your tools well and never store them when wet. This can lead to rust which is very tricky to remove.
  5. If you’ve used your tools alongside a chemical solution, such as bug spray or fertilizer, sterilize them afterward. The chemicals can build up on the shears and make it tricky to clean later down the line.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!