How to clean your tools

Let’s have an honest moment for a second and ask ourselves, when is the last time that I cleaned my tools?. If you answered never that’s ok, you no doubt have your reasons. Today, however, we are going to delve into the process and the benefits of cleaning your tools. A master craftsman is only ever as good as his tools so, respect the tools of your trade and ensure to keep them clean.

Purpose of cleaning tools

Keeping your tools clean is an essential part of being a tool owner and user. Cleaning can also include slight maintenance such as, sharpening and/or replacing of certain parts. The biggest killer of tools is rust. Various forms of rust can build up over time and eventually weaken the structural integrity of your tools. Keeping your tools clean and in good working order can slow this process right down and increase the life of your tools.

How to clean your tools:

Please note: This is a general guide in how to clean your tools and is in no way meant to be perceived as the only method of tool cleaning.


    • Coka-Cola / Vinegar
    • Abrasive Chemical Cleaner (brand doesn’t matter)
    • Dish Soap
    • WD-40
    • Various Cloths
    • Wire Brush
    • Steel Wool (superfine if possible)


  • Face mask (recommended)
  • Rubber Gloves (recommended)
  • Replacement parts such as – Saw handles and Plane parts etc.
  • Sharpening Stones

Now that you have the necessary utensils we can get on with the cleaning procedure.

It is advised that you break down your tool into its various parts in order to clean properly.

  • Step one: Before we can deep clean and remove rust we first must remove any grime or oil from the surface of the tool. This can be done by using dish soap, a normal cloth and warm water.
  • Step two: Dry off the tool and then submerge it into a container filled with either vinegar or coke. Then leave it for approximately 24 hours.
  • Step Three: Once you pull out your tool from its bath ensure to dry it immediately and as thoroughly as possible. If it still has a fair amount of rust you can spray it down with abrasive chemical cleaner and use a wire brush to scrub the worst of it. Be sure to dry off the chemical cleaner afterwards. Repeat this step until the heavy rust is gone.
  • Step Four: For any smaller rust that may still be on the tool you can apply a small about of abrasive chemical cleaner and gently rub over the tool with a steel wool. Dry and repeat if necessary.
  • Step Five: Once your tool is rust free you can then apply WD-40. You can do this by spraying WD-40 directly onto a new cloth and wiping down the tool.
  • Step Six: Put tool back together again, sharpen and/or add replacement parts as necessary.

Minimising future rust problems

Now that you have cleaned your tools and brought new life back into them, how do you go about keeping them that way? There are a few easy ways to keep your tools looking and performing at their best. One of the easiest ways to ensure that you keep your tools in a dry place. Sounds easy enough but you would be surprised that garages are not really dry. They suffer from humidity problems due to poor ventilation. A good fix for this is to use silica gel packs. You can place these in tool boxes and drawers to help keep the moisture at bay. It is also a good idea to keep your tools hanging on a wall and not on the floor. Concrete allows for moisture to creep up from within.

Benefits of clean tools

Having a clean tool allows it to function at its best. How can you compare a sharp chisel with a dull one, there is no comparison. The functionality of a tool is determined by the way that it is looked after. If a tool is properly maintained then it should continue to function like new for as long as you own it.

If you take pride in the projects that you create, you should also have pride in the tools that helped you to accomplish your build.

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