How to Clean Garden Tools with Vinegar

After a day of clipping, thinning, hoeing, and pruning among other gardening activities, we need to clean our tools

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The truth is, we are all guilty of leaving our tools outside after a tiring day of gardening. The tools will get a beating from atmospheric elements and rust eventually. So, if you are at a point where your gardening tools are rusted, how do you fix them? For starters, you can use vinegar to clean off the rust. Vinegar is one of the best solutions for cleaning rusted gardening tools.

The big question is how do you clean garden tools with vinegar? To get rid of the rust, mix water and vinegar in equal amounts. Place your rusted gardening tools in the vinegar and let them soak at least overnight. The next day, scrub off the rust, clean the tool with spray water, rinse it, and allow it to dry. A more detailed process of using vinegar to clean your gardening tools has been discussed in the article.

Keep reading to learn more about how to use vinegar to clean gardening tools, other methods of removing rust from gardening tools, tips for preventing rust from forming on your tools, maintenance tips for gardening tools and other related issues.

How to Use Vinegar for Cleaning Gardening tools

As mentioned above, vinegar is primarily used to clean rust from your gardening tools. This is because, acid is a good rust remover and vinegar contains acetic acid that acts on the rust. However, vinegar alone cannot clear all the rust. That is why you will need to scrub your tools. Here is a detailed procedure of cleaning your gardening tools with vinegar.

Step 1: Start by removing as much dirt from the tools as possible. This helps to expose as much rust as possible to the acid in the vinegar. Realize that the layers of dirt could conceal some rust.

Step 2: For the large layers of dirt you can use your hand to pick them, while else for the small traces of dirt, use warm water, and a durable cloth to scrub it out.

Step 3: The next step is to mix 100% vinegar with an equal amount of water in a bucket.

Step 4: Soak the tools you need to clean, in the solution preferably overnight. This increases the time for the acid in the vinegar to eat on most of the rust, if not all. It also helps to reduce the effort you will need to scrub, especially since scrubbing your tools could lead to many scratches on the metal.

Step 5: The next day, use a brush, pad, or even wire to scrub off the rust from the gardening tools. Scrub off the rust in a circular motion to avoid damaging the tools. Rinse the tools with a different solution of vinegar and water and wipe them using a cloth until you remove all the rust you possibly can.

Step 6: When you are satisfied the rust is removed, clean the tools with soapy water then rinse it in plain water.

Step 7: Hang the rinsed tool to get rid of the moisture and dry.

Step 8: Cover the dry tool with a generous amount of oil or WD-40 by rubbing it. Rub the oil in all the parts of the tools. This helps to lubricate the tool for storing as well as to cover it from future rusting. It is also an important maintenance routine.

Other Methods of Removing Rust from your Gardening Tools

If you do not have vinegar at home and you still want to get rid of rust from your gardening tools, you can use the following alternative methods.

  • Soak in Black Tea

This method involves soaking your rusted tools in black tea. Once the tools have soaked, use a rag, wire, or steel wool to scrub off the rust

  • Using Can Cola

Another method is using a can of cola and a wire or brush to scrub off the rust. Research proves that the can of cola contains phosphoric acid that acts on the rust by dissolving it.

  • Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most useful items you can have in your house. It is not only used for cooking, but also for a lot of DIY cleaning.

Therefore, when it comes to getting rid of rust, baking soda is not left behind. Mix baking soda and water in a bowl to form a paste. Apply the paste on the rusted tool and let it sit for a few hours. Once the paste has soaked into the tool, scrub it off using a brush. It will come out with the rust.

  • Using Lemon

Did you know you could use lemon to get rid of rust? Well for starters, it contains an acid that eats on the rust. To use lemon, pour some salt over the rusted tool and rub it in. Squeeze some lemon juice on top of the salt and let it sit for a few hours.

After the allocated time, scrub off the mixture using a ball of steel wool, brush, or even the lemon skin, to get rid of the rust.

You might have noticed that the above methods will work best if you are looking to get rid of small amounts of rust. They are also most suitable for cleaning small tools. So what should you do with large tools or even larger amounts of rust stains? Well, do not worry we have you covered.

  • Citric Acid

The concept of using lemon to get rid of rust may have been adopted from using citric acid for larger amounts of rust. You can buy citric acid from your local agriculture store or grocery store. Note that citric acid should not be used on gardening tools with brakes or engine blocks. This is because these parts can become brittle in the citric acid solution.

Step 1: Mix citric acid with water to form a solution.

Step 2: Soak the rusted tools in the citric acid solution for overnight

Step 3: On the next day, use wool, brush or wire to scrub off the rust from the tools

Step 4: When you are satisfied you have scrubbed most of the rust, rinse the tools. Be sure to wipe off any residue of citric acid from the tools

Step 5: Hang the rinsed tools to dry up.

Step 6: Once the tools are dried, oil them to form a coating that prevents future rusting.

  • Use Commercial Rust Removers

If you are looking to clean more than one tool, you might as well settle for using commercial rust removers. Note that these removers are not any better than the DIY methods mentioned above, but they are not bad as well. The point of using them is reducing the labor of forming a large amount of solution, which you may need for the many tools.

Commercial rust removers can be purchased in your nearest hardware store. An alternative to rust removers is purchasing rustproofing products. These products will prevent your tools from rusting.

  • Using Paint Scrapper

If you are trying to get rid of a large amount of rust, a paint scraper may come in handy. Use the scrapper to scrub off as much rust as you can. An alternative to the paint scraper is using steel wool.

Be gentle as you scrub off the rust so that you do not scratch the metallic tools.

  • Using Power Tools

To get the tools looking as clean as new, you can use power tools to achieve that level of cleanliness. They also are very resourceful if you wish to fasten the process of cleaning your tools. Some of these tools include wire brush attachments for drills, a bench grinder with a wire wheel and buffing wheel attachment to mention but a few.

These tools can be bought from your nearest agricultural shop.

With all these methods, you cannot go wrong when it comes to getting rid of rust from your gardening tools. Getting rid of it is good, but you are better of preventing the rust from forming in the first place.

Tips for Preventing Rust from forming on your Gardening tools

  • Clean your tools as soon as you are done using them. Do not leave your tools outside since this increases their chances of rusting faster.
  • After cleaning your tools, always make a point of sharpening them. Sharpening your tools reduces the chances of them spoiling, which in turn reduces the chances of the blunt parts rusting. Remember not to use your fingers to test the sharpness of your tool lest it ends in an injury. Still, on sharpening your tools, make sure you put on some protective gear when sharpening your gardening tools
  • When you are done sharpening your tools, apply a coat of oil on them, or use W-40. This oil acts as a lubricant as well as slows down the process of rusting in future
  • Make sure your tools dry completely before storing them. How you store your tools will not only determine if they develop rust, but also how long they last. It is a vital tip that you should adhere to.
  • Store your tools in a dry place by hanging them on a hook or a hanging rack. Do not clutter your tools together because this can make them become blunt.
  • If you like to store your tools in a toolbox, make sure you store the toolbox in a cool and dry place. Also, make sure that the box itself is completely dry
  • An alternative to storing your tools is by placing them in a bucket of sand and mineral salts.

Other Maintenance Tips for Gardening Tools

  • Oil any moving part of your tool. These tools include pruners, snips, and shears among others. You can also take apart such tools to clean rust and mineral deposits that may have formed in the places that are hard to reach on a regular cleaning routine.
  • Disinfect your tools especially if they have been exposed to pest-infested soil or plants. You can do this by mixing 2 cups of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Soak the tools in the solution then rinse it using plain water. You can also rinse off the bleach using cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol.
  • When oiling your tools, avoid using petroleum-based oil or motor oil. This is because when you use your tools next, you will introduce petroleum oil to your soil, which may damage the soil productivity.

Related Questions

How do I clean the wooden handles of my gardening tools?

Most gardening tools have wooden handles. Just like the other parts of the tools, wooden handles gather dirt with time. They tend to become grey dry and on extreme occasions, they may crack. Cleaning and maintain these wooden handles are a different process from doing so for the entire tool.

To get rid of the dirt or grey color, rub the handle with medium sandpaper. Once you are done, apply some linseed oil on them, and rub the oil in. Linseed oil protects the handles by repelling against water. Make sure the handles are clean before applying the oil to achieve the best results.

Also, if you are looking to quicken the process, use boiled linseed oil since it tends to dry faster than raw oil. Once you are done applying the oil, make sure you store the wooden handled tools in a dry room preferably by hanging them.

If the handles are severely damaged, you can have them replaced in the nearest hardware store.

How do I sharpen my tools?

We have talked about sharpening your tools as soon as you are done cleaning as one of the ways of maintaining them. So how do we sharpen them? There are different ways of sharpening your tools.

One of the ways is using a whetstone. Start by wetting the whetstone with water, or mineral oil. Make sure the whetstone is completely wet, then without pressing hard, stroke the whetstone in on direction on the edge of the tool you are sharpening.

You can also use a metal file or knife sharpener. In a swift movement, scrap the file across the length of the blade. Make sure you move the file in the direction away from you. Repeat this process until you achieve the sharpness you need.

Once you are done sharpening your tool, test them by cutting a piece of plant. If it’s sharp to your likeness proceed with oiling the tool.

See Also: 4 Best Garden Hoses For Cold Weather Use