As a follow up to my post about fall clean up, I thought I would write about how I clean my tools at the end of the season. I will be the first to admit that I can be terrible about regularly cleaning my tools. Most advice I’ve read says that tools should be cleaned after every use, and I can tell you that is simply not happening in my shed! I’ve been known to hang up my spades with dirt still stubbornly clinging on. I do, at least, always try to put my tools away, out of the elements.
However, I do like to thoroughly clean my tools after the season is over so that they are in tip top shape and ready to go come spring. I’m a big believer in quality tools and buying the best that you can afford and, to that end, I’ve been slowly collecting Sneeboer tools. My husband often gifts me a tool for Christmas and they will even do complimentary engraving on the handle! He most often orders the tools from The Garden Tool Co., which offers quality products along with great service. I particularly like that Sneeboer offers tools for those of us that are “vertically challenged”, at just 5’1″ I appreciate a shorter handle.
The clean up is actually a simple process of washing and cleaning the dirt away from the steel and handles, sharpening blades that have gotten dull over the course of the season and rubbing down the tool with an oil. Last season, I bought this Sneeboer cleaning kit and it has made the whole process easy and enjoyable. It’s so satisfying to finish up this last task!
I use the brass brush to scrap away any stubborn dirt and to help get the tool dirt free. I also use a hose and a rag to clean the tool and a towel to thoroughly dry it. At this point, I sharpen any tools that need it, usually just the spade. You want to sharpen away from the tool, on the beveled, sloped edge.
After everything is dry, I rub the whole tool with linseed oil. This will help to keep the wood on the handle from drying out and cracking and it also keeps dirt from sticking in future uses. The handle will develop a beautiful patina over time! And that’s it! Three steps and you’re all done. All in all, it probably took me an hour to do all of my tools (handhelds included) and the feeling of accomplishment was very gratifying.