What Should You Use To Clean Hand and Power Tools?

Hand and power tools are essential for home improvement or repair projects.

They are also a good investment if you like making DIY furniture, from simple shelves and benches to complex cabinets, tables, and desks.

Your tools are your most valuable asset, so you should take care of them. Effective tool maintenance is the key to ensuring they last for a long time.

So, you might wonder, what should you use to clean hand and power tools?

Cleaning Hand Tools: What You Need and What You Need To Do

The most basic tools used in home repair and improvement are hand tools. Examples are hammers, wrenches, hacksaws, screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and levels.

These tools are often left out in the garage, shed, or basement. However, even though these tools are tough, they are not indestructible.

Incorrect storage and exposure to the elements can take their toll.

What should you use to clean hand tools?

Cleaning hand tools is pretty straightforward. You only need a few supplies, which you probably have at home already.

Here’s what you need:

Mineral Oil

Rust is one of the biggest enemies of hand tools. Luckily, you can prevent rusting by oiling up your tools.

Use mineral oil to protect the metal parts of your hand tools from rusting. Apply a very thin oil coating over the metal surface at least every six months.

Besides helping prevent rust buildup, mineral oil is great for preserving exposed wooden handles or those that don’t have a varnish coating.

Apply a generous coating of mineral oil to any wood handle and let it soak for five to 10 minutes.

Lastly, oil also works with hinges. Spray or dab a small amount of oil on the hinges and joints so you won’t have difficulty maneuvering hand tools like wrenches and pliers.

Alternatively, you can use a WD-40 rust remover.


Vinegar is one of the most effective cleaners around. It works best for removing dust and grease.

The mild acid safely dissolves rust without ruining your tools. What’s more, you don’t need to scrub them anymore.

To clean hand tools with vinegar, do the following:

  1. Place your tools in a container.
  2. Pour just enough distilled vinegar to submerge all the rusty parts.
  3. Soak the tools for 12 to 24 hours. After this, it will be easier to remove the rust by hand.

You can also use vinegar to disinfect tools using four simple steps:

  1. Spray vinegar on the surfaces of your hand tools.
  2. Sprinkle some baking soda.
  3. Let it sit for several minutes.
  4. Wipe it off.

Water and Mild Soap

To remove sticky dirt and mud, wash your garden tools with soap and water.

Before washing them, remove any dirt buildup using a brush or a microfiber cleaning cloth.

Use a soft brush to get into tight spaces.

Next, wash the tools with mild soap and water. Don’t use harsh chemicals, as they might damage your tools.

Finally, rinse your tools with clean water and let them dry.

learn what should you use to clean hand and power tools

Cleaning Power Tools: What You Need and What You Need To Do

Power tools (or electric tools) require routine maintenance, just like hand tools. With their mechanical and electrical parts, power tools can easily collect dust and debris that can lead to problems later on.

Tools like miter saws, circular saws, cordless drills, planers, and jigsaws require extra care when cleaning.

You don’t want to spill water into the motor or any exposed electronic parts of the tool.

It’s always essential to have the tool manufacturer’s guide for safety guidelines.

Also, make sure to unplug electrical cords or remove hoses before you start.

So, what should you use to clean hand and power tools?

All-Purpose Tool Cleaner or Any Degreaser

You can use mild soap or an all-purpose cleaner to clean power tool accessories and attachments, such as drill bits and saw blades.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill a bucket with equal parts water and cleaner, and submerge the tools.
  2. Let them soak for several minutes.
  3. Wipe them with a clean, lint-free cloth and rinse them with clean water.
  4. Allow them to dry.


Unless you have a professional-grade dust collection system, your power tools will likely collect dust in their motors.

A vacuum is a handy tool for sucking up dust. If you work with power tools a lot, you might benefit from using a vacuum specifically designed for power tools.

This device can effectively collect dust while preventing dust or dirt from escaping into the surrounding air.

You can also use an air compressor instead of a vacuum. If using one, be sure to operate the machine from a safe distance.


Use a stiff brush to eliminate rust on fences, iron tables, or hardware.

Brush them gently so you don’t scratch the surface. Then, use a degreaser to eliminate extra gunk.

For tight spaces, nooks, and crannies, use a small brush to clean them using gentle motions to avoid pushing the dirt further into the tool.


A lubricating oil helps reduce friction and ensures that your power tools operate efficiently.

It also protects the parts and surfaces of your machine from dust, moisture, and other elements that can cause damage.

When choosing lubricants, look for a product with high viscosity, which means it can withstand extreme temperatures.

Some lubricants contain rust inhibitors to protect your tools from rust, dispersants to prevent abrasion during use, and pressure additives to add a layer of protection on metal.

Other Tools You Need

Aside from the cleaning supplies indicated above, there are some other things you need, namely:

How Often Should You Clean Your Tools?

Ideally, you want to clean your hand and power tools after every use before stashing them away.

However, you often only need to surface-clean your tool using a damp cloth and a stiff brush.

Then, preferably every six months, deep-clean and lubricate your tools to keep them in excellent condition.

Inspect your hardware for any repair issues and signs of corrosion. Also, replace broken tools or those with signs of damage immediately to avoid safety hazards.

What Should You Use To Clean Hand and Power Tools: In Conclusion

Your tools are an investment. If you take care of them properly, they will return the favor.

Fortunately, cleaning hand and power tools is easier than you think, and you only need a handful of supplies.

Make sure to have a list of cleaning tools and supplies in your home to clean your tools whenever needed.

Red also: Power Tool Organization Ideas To Save Space and Work Effectively

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