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How to Care For Garden Pruners

Pruners are a gardener’s best friend. We use them so much for so many different tasks that it’s no wonder they often get a little beat up. It is easy to neglect caring for garden pruners, but with proper sharpening and regular cleaning, they will last longer and perform much better.

how to care for pruners

The way hairdressers hold onto scissors or carpenters keep hammers on them at all times, you’ll find gardeners with their pruners. When you invest in a good pair of garden pruners, you want to make sure they will grow old with your garden!

Follow these simple steps to keep your pruners in tip-top shape, so you can use them to keep your plants in tip-top shape.

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Choosing Garden Pruners

Don’t just buy the first pair of cheap pruners you see at the store—go for quality. Choose a brand you trust and make sure the pruners are an appropriate size and weight for you and fit comfortably in your hand.

You will probably be using your pruners a lot (you may even want to make them their own holster to keep them at your fingertips), so it’s important to pick a pair that works well and is easy for you to use.

How to Sharpen Garden Pruners

There is nothing more annoying than trying to prune with dull pruners—you end up struggling for a long time only to bend and rip branches, which leaves them ugly and susceptible to disease.

It is definitely worth it to avoid all this frustration by investing in a good pair of pruners and taking the time to sharpen them properly. You and your plants will be much happier.


Begin sharpening with a coarse file. To do this, push the file along the beveled edge of the curved pruner blade, always in the same direction. As you sharpen the blade, it should turn a brighter colour.

filing the blade

Sharpening Stone

After sharpening with the file, rub a sharpening stone along the blade to smooth everything out.

Steel Wool

Rub steel wool in a circular motion along the blade to remove any last bits of rust and roughness.


Finish by spraying pruners with a vegetable oil cooking spray. This will lubricate and protect the blades, keeping them sharper for longer.

Cleaning Garden Pruners

Pruners cut through all kinds of stems and branches, which means they end up covered in all kinds of sap, pollen, and plant debris. This makes them into a grimy, sticky mess and it can be hard to even open and close the blades if there is too much gunk on there, plus infected bits of plant stuck on pruners can transfer disease to other plants.

Keep your pruners clean the right way with both regular cleanings after each use and deep cleanings once per season.

care for pruners

Simple Daily Clean

After a day of using your pruners, wipe down the blades with a cotton face pad soaked in hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Next, drip a little bit of vegetable oil onto some steel wool and buff the blades with it. This will lubricate the blades and prevent rust.

daily clean

Seasonal Deep Clean

Each season, give your pruners a deep clean by unscrewing the nut that holds them together and taking all of the pieces apart. Use warm, soapy water to wash each part individually (use a toothbrush to scrub the tough stuff away) and then rub each part with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Allow the parts to dry and then reassemble the pruners. If this step proves to be tricky, the manufacturer’s website should have detailed instructions to help you out.

Take apart pruners for a deep clean.

Frequently Asked Questions About Garden Pruners

How to Disinfect Pruners

To disinfect and sanitize pruners, either dip your pruners in a bucket of disinfectant or wipe them down with a cotton cloth. Good and inexpensive disinfectants include diluted bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and household cleaners like Lysol or Pine-Sol.

Always disinfect your pruners between each plant and before making any flower cuttings or stem cuttings for propagation. This prevents any plant diseases from spreading.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Garden Shears?

It’s important to clean your garden shears on a daily basis or every day you use them. They quickly get covered in sap and plant debris. To clean, use a cotton cloth or pad dipped in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to wipe down your shears. Add a dollop of vegetable oil to steel wool and buff the blades to keep them rust-free and lubricated.

How to care for pruners

Should I Oil Garden Shears?

It’s a good idea to lubricate your garden shears so that they never get stuck or difficult to use. It prevents rust on the metal and also prevents wood from cracking. You can use linseed oil, tung oil, or cooking oil. I personally use a cooking spray as I always have it on hand, and it makes lubricating a breeze.

You want to oil both the blades and wooden handle if it has one. Rub the oil on the surface with a scrap cloth and then wipe away any excess oil.

How to Clean Rusty Garden Pruners

As you sharpen your pruners, rust will begin to disappear. To remove stubborn rust from garden pruners, use steel wool or a wire brush. Try to remove the rust with as little force and scraping as possible as that can make your tools weaker and thinner. For really stubborn rust or a ton of it, try using a wire brush attachment and a drill to get the job done quicker.

Now that your pruners are sharp and clean, get out there and use them!


  1. Very impressive article Stephanie. I never care about it but now i feel its necessary to care your tools.

  2. I learned, from long time sharpening experts, and from decades of sharpening these and many tools, knives, etc. – that you should “never” Push the sharpening device from blade to blade’s edge. Rather you must PULL the file/sharpening tool away from the edge. Pushing causes burrs/nicks, thereby depleting and interfering with the sharpness of the blade’s edge. Therefore causing a dull/mishapen cutting blade’s edge, which can ‘tear’ vice giving you a clean cut edge. You then must file away those nicks/burrs on the “non-beveled” side/edge.


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