Your secateurs will be your best friend for day to day maintenance in your garden and as such you should treat them with kindness. The easiest way to do this is through lightweight and frequent cleaning. If you do a small amount of cleaning after every use you will avoid any big jobs in the future.
You can clean your secateurs with warm water, detergent and a brass brush (for stubborn residue). Be sure to disinfect your blades to avoid spreading infections.
Unlike other gardening tools that have a single variant, secateurs come in two versions: bypass and anvil. Before we look at the process of cleaning them, it would be best to understand the difference between the two variants.
Anvil Secateurs perform a motion similar to a meat cleaver. You have a blade with a sharp edge that comes down to meet a flat surface, cutting anything that stands in between. It is a blunt, forceful cut that hammers the material. The cut is broader and more powerful.
They can be very effective but can damage more fragile stems and plants. Still, that damage can be minimized by keeping the blade as sharp and clean as possible.
Instead of the hacking motion of anvil secateurs, bypass models use a more precise action. They are like any other type of scissor, relying on two blades coming from the opposite direction.
As they bypass each other, they can perform gentler cuts. It makes intuitive sense that two blades can be more precise. For most people, this is the preferred model as it allows them to cut without damaging the stem.
It is important with bypass secateurs to clean the space between the blades, as they are very precise and a build up in residue can cause long term damage to the tool.
If you want more info, I have a very thorough guide to secateurs that can help you choose the best pair for you!
Cleaning And Maintaining Your Secateurs
Secateurs are mainly used to trim away the dead parts of your plants. Those dead parts are dead for a reason. Most likely they are covered with fungus, viruses, and bacteria. As you make your rounds around the garden, you run the risk of spreading the infection even to healthy plants.
Here are the steps that need to be taken to clean your Secateurs:
- If present, remove the larger chunks of dirt and plant debris from the blade. This can be achieved by rubbing it with a simple hard-bristle brush or rag.
- In a bucket or large bowl, mix water and detergent.
- Place the tool in the water, letting it soak for a few minutes.
- After soaking, take the Secateurs out and wipe them down. Be sure to catch all moisture, as it can lead to rust build-up.
- Using a brass brush and some ammonia mixed with water, scrub the blades to remove the most persistent traces of plant resin.
- This is a very particular need for this tool, but be sure to disinfect the blades after they are cleaned and rinsed. As previously mentioned, you want to avoid spreading infections from one diseased plant to a healthy one.
Simply soak a rag in rubbing alcohol and run it across the length of the cutting edge. Be very careful not to cut yourself, as this is a very sharp tool. Wear leather gloves if needed.
You owe it to yourself to get in the habit of cleaning your secateurs after every use. It is the best way to keep the tools in good shape, and if you take my advice on which secateurs to choose, you’ll be pruning with confidence for many years!
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