Tools last longer when cleaned properly and late is better than never. While I don't fuss and clean every single tool, my pruning shears are definitely worth cleaning and oiling as they simply work better and last longer!
Here are some quick instructions for cleaning your pruners. Please note – professionals recommend you clean your pruners after every use and sharpen them regularly. If you’re like me, that simply doesn’t happen. There are many great videos online for cleaning your expensive pruners (i.e. “How to Maintain Felco Pruning Shears”) for folks who will go out and purchase some tools and products.
For basic maintenance, dry them when they are wet and do not leave them out in the elements. It's a good idea to clean and sharpen them a couple of times a year - this keeps them in decent working condition for urban gardening purposes.
- Snap a photo of your pruners before taking them apart – this will make it easier to reassemble.
- Use a flat screwdriver, vise grips or pliers and disassemble the pruners. You don’t really have to take them apart to clean and sharpen, but if moisture has gotten between the pieces, it’s worth cleaning and oiling when apart.
- Get a bowl of hot soapy water and a cleaning pad or steel wool, as well as some rags and light mineral oil.
- Scrub the pruner blades to remove any dirt, sticky sap and rust. Wipe and dry the pruners. You can also use a bit of WD40 to remove rust or tough dirt. Wipe the parts clean again.
- Use a wet sharpening stone to sharpen the blade at the original angle. If you are unsure, there are some helpful videos online or see below.
- To oil your pruners, you should use a lubricant for metal, such as for your bike chain, but in a pinch, a little bit of olive oil rubbed on the separate pieces with a piece of paper towel or rag will do until you remember to buy special lubricant.
- Assemble your pruners (that photo should come in handy) and store them in your house until spring.
This video for cleaning and sharpening is pretty short and does not require complicated materials.