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Keep Your Tools Clean

February 10, 2018

Ideally tools should be disinfected after working on every plant; however, this is usually not practical. If possible, rotate between several tools while working in the garden. That way, one tool can be disinfected while you work with another. After dipping pruning tools, be sure to wipe away excess disinfectant to avoid injuring the next plant.


Revitalize Your Pruning Shears

My Felco pruning shears


Pruning Tools – Make sure to disinfect your pruners. First, if they are rusty clean them with fine steel wool. Then clean them by removing soil and organic residue before disinfecting them using one of the following methods:


Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol - The advantages of alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl) to sanitize gardening tools is that it can be used as a wipe (no soaking necessary), you don't have to rinse it off, and it's immediately effective. However, they're very flammable. To disinfect tools with alcohol you can either wipe or dip them in a solution that is 70–100.

Chlorine Bleach - Chlorine bleach is inexpensive, effective, and easy to find. However, it’s corrosive, can produce harmful fumes, and isn't as effective against viruses as some other products. To use chlorine bleach to disinfect horticultural tools, mix up a 10% bleach solution (one-part bleach to nine parts water) and do a 30-minute soak. The solution has a short

lifespan—effectiveness is cut in half after two hours—so fresh batches should be made for each round of cleaning. Rinse tools with clean water after soaking to prevent corrosion.

Keeping your tools clean is critical in preventing the spread of disease-causing pathogens. U of F Extension notes “A longer soaking may be needed for pruning surfaces that are not smooth.



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