Learn How To Sterilize Pruning Tools

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been an experienced gardener for several years, it’s really important to take care of your tools. It,therefore,becomes necessary to sterilize your pruning tools (such as shears, loppers, saws, etc.) when your plants are damaged and subject to various diseases.

It is imperative to disinfect pruning tools before they are used on another plantbecause the tools can easily catch on to the disease pathogens of the infected plant which means that if they’re not sterilized and then subsequently used on another plant, that plant is likely to catch the disease from the infected tools. Therefore pruning tools should be sterilized after every use, as it is an effective way of helping to prevent the spread of diseases from one plant to another.

It is a very easy feat to transfer a disease from one plant to another by the usage of contaminated tools. So if you want to gain some insight into the helpful ways in which to sterilize your pruning tools, then just keep on reading.

While it has been argued that sterilizing your pruning tools on the daily isn’t that cost-effective, there is considerable evidence to suggest that doing so really helps reduce the spreading of plant diseases to other plants. Therefore, it is highly recommended to sterilize your pruning tools.

How to Sterilize Your Tools:

Cleaning and disinfecting are two different steps. Cleaning means actively removing the soil and debris and is the first action to take before sterilizing your tools via disinfectants. As you start the disinfection process it is important to clean the tools using water and rid them of any dirt, debris or residue.

After this, you can use any disinfectant of your choice on the infected tool or soak the infected tool into the disinfectant. If you’re having trouble removing the dirt and debris by washing them in water, use a firm bristle brush or a specific tool that sweeps it all off for more effectiveness.

It is highly recommended for pruning tools to be disinfected after working on every plant but this is not always practical therefore a more applicable approach to this would be to switch betweendifferent tools while at work in the garden. Following this, one tool is disinfected meanwhile you are working with the other. After plunging your pruning tools, make sure to wipe away extra disinfectant. Washing your tools daily does not give any guarantee as to the prevention of transmission of plant diseases. For this reason, it is recommended to engage in sterilizing your pruning tools on a daily basis.

When to Start Cleaning Your Tools:

As soon as you take notice of any symptoms which points towards the fact that the plant is diseased and infected, you must sterilize any of the pruning tools which you used to prevent any plant diseases from further spreading because of your infected tools. How do you make the decision of disinfecting your tools?

Well, it depends on a lot of factors as well as knowledge about pathogens and their life history. Factors on the basis of which you must make a conscious decision to disinfect your tools are whether the plant is subject to a virus. If it’s a vascular fungus or bacteria you must disinfect your tools. If you are taking out irreplaceable plants, then you must also disinfect your tools.

Also while gardening, avoid cutting out the active oozing cankers. In fact, wait for them to dry out before doing so. 

Here are several disinfectants that can help sterilize your pruning tools and the benefits as well as downsides of using each of these:


Mix the liquid bleach with water and then dip your tools into the mixture or shower the mixture on the tools and let it dissipate. However contrary to popular belief, bleach should not be the ultimate choice.Bleach is corrosive and will damage the tool and the now damaged surface can become infested with microbes that your sterilization will no longer be able to reach. Bleach is also very phytotoxic and damages the cells of the branch you’re pruning.

Household Cleaners

Household disinfectants such as Lysol or Simple Green Dcan be used to disinfect your tools. The advantage of household cleaners is that they are relatively gentle and not that damaging to your tools as compared to bleach or other industrial cleaners. Fill a bucket with a household cleaner of your choice. Soak the tool in it for a couple of minutes and then remove it.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Use 70% ofisopropyl alcohol to help sterilize your tools. Drop the tools into the alcohol and then separate them and allow them to be parched. You can also use a wet piece of cloth with alcohol and rub the gardening tools with it. They are immediately effective however they are flammable.

Disinfectant Wipes

You can use wipes that are used for general-purposeslikeClorox or Lysol disinfecting wipes. Remove the wipe (disinfectant) from the container and wipe the tool thoroughly. Throw away the wipes after using them.

Steam or Dry Heat

Heat your gardening tools to 180°-200° F (82°-93° C) under a cover for about 30 minutes. For smaller tools place them under a steam basket, cover them and then steam them on the stove for about half an hour.

Pine Oil Products

To accurately makeuse of Pine oil products, mix 25% of its solution and then submerge the tools into the solution. Pine oil products aren’t as corrosive as other disinfectant methods but they’re also not as effective.

Trisodium Phosphates (TSPs)

To sterilize with TSP, mix 10% of solution (one-part TSP to nine parts water) and let the tools sit in the solution for three minutes. TSPs are inexpensive however they are extremely corrosive for the tools. You may find TSPs near painting products.

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