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How to Clean Tools

How many DIY projects did you complete this year? COVID-19 forced people to self-isolate, causing productivity to go down. In times like these, many people are taking out their toolboxes to make small repairs around the house or do small home improvement projects, like building cabinets. When getting your tools for these purposes, you might find that they are greasy to touch and covered in rust. The sight is hard to bear because even though you aren’t much of a DIYer, it still hurts to see these once shiny tools in a bad condition. Well, there’s no need to worry. We’ll share some effective tips on how to clean tools.


You’ve probably got all the ingredients you need in your home. Liquid soap is an effective degreaser, vinegar, and baking soda are great at removing rust. Get a can of commercial cleaner from the nearest store, and it will also work. Finally, a light touch of scented oil will make your tools smell nice so you can use them without any hesitation.


Things You’ll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Commercial Cleaner (Optional)
  • WD-40
  • Essential Oil (Jojoba or Camellia)
  • Putty Knife
  • Rags
  • Chamois Cloth
  • Steel Wool
  • Hardwire Brush
  • Medium Grade Sandpaper


Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Tools

Step #1 – Scrape Off Any Excess Dirt

Whether you’re cleaning your garden tools or the ones in the garage, the first thing you need to do is remove the virtual dirt. Dumping dirty tools in your bucket of DIY solutions will create a nasty mess, which will make it harder to clean your tools.


Use a putty knife to remove the dirt. Do get into every crevice to hit the corners, where most of it hides. Make sure to not scrape too hard or you might scratch the tool.


Tools often get dirty because of exposure to the outside elements and the sweat in your hands when you grip them tight. Along with cleaning the metal part, you should also attend to the wooden handle.


Step #2 – Wipe Down Grease

Grease isn’t as stubborn as rust. It will only take a couple of minutes to wipe down your greasy tools.


In a bowl, mix liquid soap and water. For a light sudsy mixture and then clean the metal using a rag. Put in some elbow grease to remove stubborn stains. Don’t worry if some are still left behind because the next will remove them as well.


If this doesn’t do the trick, you might have to clean them with a commercial degreaser. For this method, fill a bucket with water and pour in a small amount of degreaser. Soak the tools for 20 minutes and wipe them with a rag. Keep in mind that the bucket should be of the perfect size so that the handles aren’t submerged in the solution.


Step #3 – Remove Rust

Now comes the hard part of how to clean tools! Rust is quite stubborn, and you might have to dip your tools in the DIY solution a few times before you see the shiny metal underneath that red-brown layer.


Lay down your tools on a clean working surface. Sprinkle baking soda on them and rub it in vigorously. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add vinegar into it. The amount of vinegar you add should depend on how rusty the tools are. Typically, it’s 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar.


Submerge the metal part of the tools in this solution and leave them in place for 30 minutes. When the times up, take them out and rub them with steel wool. For those hard-to-reach places, use a metal brush. If you still see some rust stain, dip them again in the DIY solution. This time, increase vinegar’s amount.


Once clean, rinse them under tap water and use a fresh rag to wipe them down.


Step #4 – Oil Your Tools

One of the biggest mistakes that many people make is that they don’t oil their tools. Oiling is essential to keep your tools in good condition, and those with bolts and screws don’t get stuck. You can either use WD-40, which offers 3-in-One oil with 98% low-viscosity pale spindle oil, a corrosion inhibitor, and 25% citronella oil. Together, they keep the metal part protected, clean, and lubricated.


You can also use essential oils, such as jojoba oil and camellia oil. The former was used in ancient times to protect the blades of Samurai swords. The scent will be an additional benefit over that stale, rusty smell. Although today’s tools tend to rust less, oiling is still important, and you should do it at least every 6 months.


Step #5 – Sanding

With your tools look all shiny now, there’s only one thing remaining that needs a touchup – the wooden handles. Use medium-grade sandpaper to smoothen the edges and remove any splinters. Don’t pick a piece of sandpaper on the finer end, or you’ll end up causing cracks in the wood, which will make the handle crack on hard impact.


Final Thoughts

So, what do you think? We hope you now know how to clean tools at home easily. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll find baking soda and vinegar in your pantry, along with liquid soap in your kitchen. Use those first to clean the tools, and if you still see rust stains, go for the commercial cleaners. WD-40 is an all-rounder when it comes to cleaning as well as keeping things working in good condition. So, give it a try too. Lastly, don’t forget to oil your tools and store them in an airtight toolbox.


About Chris

When Chris first bought a house, he quickly realized that he was now going to need to be a weekend handyman. Every project that he worked on, he kept realizing that he needed more and more DIY tools. Chris is also someone who likes to do a lot of research before making large purchases. Since he had already done most of the research, Chris decided to put the info that he accumulated about his favorite daily tools onto