A good pair of garden pruners is a worthy investment. But like any tool, it needs proper care in order to do its job well and last a long time. These guidelines apply not only to pruners, but also snippers, scissors, and any other metal tools you use in the garden.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't always pamper my pruners the way I should, so I try to get in the habit of doing (at the very least) a quick wipe-down with a towel after every use. Even if you only cut one stem, plant sap or residue can linger on the blades and cause rust or damage over time.
A better rule of thumb would be to wipe down the blades with a bit of mineral oil (or vegetable oil) to keep them lubricated and ready for next time. Oil is a general protectant that helps prevent rust, and any non-drying light oil will work (to keep it simple, I use a food-grade mineral oil since it's the same oil I wipe down my wooden utensils and cutting boards with).
After a heavy pruning job, soak your pruners in warm soapy water to wash off the grime, then rinse well and allow to dry thoroughly.
If your pruners are in need of some serious love, or you notice any rust starting to form, first wipe down the blades with some mineral oil.
Much of the gunk will come off this way; to remove the rest, use a scouring pad, steel wool, or wire brush to scrub off the remaining rust. Be careful not to scrub against the sharpened blade itself, as that will dull it. Instead, scrub only the flat surfaces until clean, soak in warm soapy water, then rinse and dry.
Finish with a light application of mineral oil before you put your pruners away. Always store them in a sheltered spot, preferably indoors and away from the elements.
With a little loving care, your pruners will stay happy and healthy — just like the rest of your garden.
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