Clean and Store Gardening Tools for the Winter
Get the most out of your garden tools by properly maintaining them between seasons. Never leave soil on tools before putting them away for the winter. Soil contains moisture that can cause metal tools to rust. Rust decreases the lifespan of the tool and also causes pitting, which attracts more soil and dirt. The tools will not be able to move through soil efficiently if debris is attached. A tool that has been properly cared for requires less effort to use.
Prepare now for the next year’s gardening season by properly cleaning tools before storing for the winter
- Scrape off any excess mud or dirt. Use a stick to knock off large pieces and a wire brush for tougher spots. If the soil is really caked on, you may need to let the tool soak in a bucket of water for a few minutes before tackling it again.
- Wipe off the tool with an old rag and let it dry thoroughly.
- Sharpen the tool, if it has a sharp portion (this includes spades), with a file made especially for sharpening tools. Hold the tool steady against a solid object, such as a tool bench, and draw the file repeatedly across the edge at a 45-degree angle.
- Condition wooden handles by sanding any rough or splintery portions with sandpaper. Follow up by rubbing paste wax over the handle.
- Spray metal parts with a penetrating lubricating oil to protect from rust.
- Store in a dry spot. Avoid leaving tools on the floors of garages or other places likely to get damp during the winter.