Cleaning handheld and power tools

Lisa Evans from MyJobQuote has provided some top tips on how to effectively clean tools and prevent them from deteriorating.

Cleaning your tools is imperative to prolonging their life and keeping them functioning correctly. Cleaning will help prevent rusting and seizing up, whilst also ensuring your tools still look great in the toolbox.

The most effective cleaners are degreasers, such as WD-40. These types of degreasers loosen stuck tools and gets under dirt so it can be easily removed. A strong degreaser will also be able to remove adhesives which could have made their way onto your tools.


To clean handheld tools, you should use a cleaning solution or degreaser, wire brush, hot water, steel wool, soft rag and household oil. Let the tools soak in the cleaning solution for at least half an hour, but the longer they soak for the easier they should be to clean.

Using a wire brush, scrub the tools clean and use the steel wool to remove any rust. If your hand-held tools are prone to rusting, you should be coating them in WD-40 or a household oil every 6 months using a soft rag.


If you want to effectively clean power tools you should ensure that they are disconnected from all power supplies. If the power tool is used in woodwork, and in turn collects saw dust, this should be cleared out using compressed air.

Using a cleaning solution and rag you should wipe clean your power tools, ensuring not to get the solution anywhere near the power cables or motor. A toothbrush or pick is a great way to clean around buttons and toggles. Once you have finished cleaning with the solution, you should wipe down with a dry rag to remove all residue. Check for any rust on the metal components and remove with steel wool.


If you don’t have any rust removing solutions, there are some DIY options that work great. A cold solution of black tea works great at removing rust. Leave the tools to soak for at least an hour and you should be able to take the rust right off. Soaking hand tools in white vinegar overnight and scrubbing with a wire brush also removes stubborn rust.

Additionally, salt can be added to the solution to speed up the reaction. If you use a vinegar solution to clean with, it is recommended to mix baking soda and water to neutralise the acidic vinegar.

Regardless of whether you are giving a generic clean with a cleaning solution or a deep clean to remove rust we recommend that you oil your tools every six months at least to prolong their life span and ensure they function perfectly. A dirty and rusty adjustable spanner is no good to anyone if it is seized up solid.