Sanitizing garden tools is important to prevent the spread of diseases and pests in your garden.
- Gloves: Wear gloves to protect your hands from contaminants or chemicals.
- Rubbing Alcohol or Disinfectant: You can use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or a garden tool disinfectant (see recommendations in #3 below).
- Bucket or Container: Large enough to hold the tools you want to sanitize.
- Scrub Brush: A stiff-bristle brush will help remove dirt and debris.
- Rags or Paper Towels: For wiping down the tools.
Steps to sanitize garden tools
- Gather your tools: Collect all the garden tools you want to sanitize.
- Remove dirt and debris: Use a stiff-bristle brush or a putty knife to remove caked-on dirt, soil, or plant material from the tools. This step is important because it allows the disinfectant to come into direct contact with the surface of the tools.
- Soak the tools: Fill a bucket or container with enough rubbing alcohol or a garden tool disinfectant to fully submerge your tools. Ensure the liquid covers the entire surface of the tools. Commercial household disinfectants (such as Lysol or Simple Green D) can be used to disinfect your gardening tools. The advantage of these types of disinfectants is that they are relatively gentle on you and your tools compared to bleach or industrial cleansers. Fill a bucket with a household cleaner of your choice. Soak the tool in it for a couple minutes, then remove it. Note: To reduce the corrosive aspect of household cleaners further, combine them in a solution of one part cleaner and five parts water.
- Soak time: Let the tools soak in the disinfectant for at least 10-15 minutes. This soaking time will ensure that any pathogens or contaminants on the tools are killed or deactivated.
- Scrub and wipe: After soaking, use a scrub brush to clean any remaining dirt or residue from the tools. Pay attention to crevices and hard-to-reach areas. Wipe the tools down with a rag or paper towel soaked in the disinfectant.
- Rinse and dry: Rinse the tools thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual disinfectant. Use a clean, dry cloth to dry the tools completely. Moisture can promote rust, so ensure they are dry before storing them.
- Sharpen and oil: If your garden tools have blades (e.g., pruners, shears), consider sharpening them with a sharpening stone or file. Applying a thin coat of oil to metal parts can help prevent rust.
- Store properly: Store your sanitized garden tools in a clean and dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Hanging them on a tool rack or pegboard can help keep them organized and in good condition.
- Repeat regularly: Regularly sanitize your garden tools, especially after working in different areas of your garden or when dealing with diseased plants. This helps maintain tool cleanliness and keeps your garden healthy. An easy way to do this is to fill a large bucket with sand and pour motor oil on top. Use a hand trowel or small tool to mix the sand and oil. Continuously plunge your dirty tool in and out until clean. Tap your tool against the bucket and brush it off to remove leftover sand.