How to Sterilize Garden Tools (and Why It’s So Critical)

If you’ve ever read a guide about propagating or trimming plants then you’ve probably been warned that your gardening shears need to be sterilized first. But what’s the big deal? Do you really need to sterilize gardening shears or are we all just being paranoid? Let’s talk about how to sterilize garden tools and why it’s so essential.

Why should you sterilize gardening shears?

If you want to know how to sterilize garden tools and why it matters, first you know just how bacteria works in houseplants and why proper care should always be taken.

The first reason is that you don’t want to introduce any diseases or parasites into your garden with cross-contamination. If you’re working with plants that are susceptible to pests or diseases, it’s important to make sure that you’re not introducing any of those things into your garden by using unsanitized tools.

Second, sterilizing your gardening shears will keep them in good condition. Over time, the metal on the blades can corrode and become less effective. By sterilizing them, you’ll prolong their lifespan and avoid having to replace them prematurely.

Finally, sterilizing your gardening shears will help prevent accidental injuries in the garden to your own body! The cleaner your tools, the less likely of an infection should you accidentally cut yourself.

How often should you sterilize your garden tools?

When it comes to keeping your gardening tools clean and sterilized, there is no one right answer. However, most experts recommend sterilizing your tools at least once a month, if not more often. 

Regardless, it’s a good idea to sterilize your tools right before use, especially if you’re taking cuttings for propagation.

How to Sterilize Garden Tools: 5 Ways

how to sterilize garden tools

There are a few ways how to disinfect garden tools effectively and it really depends on whatever way works best for your situation.

Method 1: Boiling Water

Boiling water can be used to sterilize gardening shears. Place the shears in a pot of boiling water and let them cool for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can place the shears in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.

Method 2: Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is a common and effective sterilizer for pruning shears. It is safe to use and effective at killing bacteria. To use isopropyl alcohol, pour it into a container and place the shears in the container. Let them soak for a few minutes.

Method 3: hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to sterilize gardening shears. Pour hydrogen peroxide into a container and place the shears in the container. Let them soak for a few minutes.

Method 3: Bleach and Water

Bleach is a common household disinfectant and can be used to sterilize gardening shears. To do this, fill a bucket with enough bleach to cover the shears and let them soak for 30 minutes. After soaking, scrub the shears with a clean cloth or sponge. Finally, rinse them off with water.

Method 4: Heat and Flame

Another sterilization method is to heat the shears and then flame them. This method is only recommended for specialized shears that cannot be boiled or alcohol wiped. First, heat the shears in a dry oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Then, hold the shears over a flame and let them burn until they start to smoke.

Method 5: Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes are also useful since they’re portable and can sanitize metal quickly. Clorox wipes are popular to use but you can also just pick up a pack of medical disinfecting wipes to keep near your tools, too.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to sterilize garden tools is an important step in keeping them healthy and free of disease. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your shears stay clean and free of bacteria.


Megan is a 5x award-winning entrepreneur, small business nerd, and industrial decor lover. Megan's products and writing have been featured in dozens of publications, including the Huffington Post and the New York Times. Hair color subject to change, black clothing...probably not.

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