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How to Clean Garden Tools & Pruning Shears with Bleach

Cleaning your gardening tools isn't just good for your tools, it's good for your plants. See how bleach can help to maintain a happy, thriving garden.

More from Clorox experts

You probably know that maintaining clean garden tools can prolong the life of your tools, but did you know it can also help to keep your plants healthy, too?

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Cleaner tools make a greener garden.

It’s important to keep gardening tools clean and free of organic matter that can spread disease between plants. A bleach and water solution made with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach is appropriate for garden tools such as plastic or stainless steel cultivators, hand trowels, pruning shears, loppers, dandelion pullers and hedge trimmers.

Do not use on garden tools made with carbon steel blades or aluminum parts.

Gather your supplies

Steps to clean garden tools with bleach

  1. 1

    Pre-clean caked on soil from tools

    In a plastic bucket, add a tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent to 1 gallon of hot tap water and stir with the large plastic spoon to dissolve. Use the nylon brush to scrub away caked on soil and any other organic matter, then rinse and set aside.


    Garden tools with loose soil that can be easily brushed off with the dry nylon brush won’t require the detergent prewash.

    clorox 2 powder in bottle
  2. 2

    Mix the bleach and water solution

    Fill a second plastic bucket with 1 gallon of cool water, then add 1/3 cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Wear gloves, safety glasses and clothing that you don’t mind accidentally splashing with bleach solution. 

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  3. 3

    Soak the garden tools

    Submerge tools in the bleach and water solution and let them soak for 6 minutes. 


    Larger tools like hedge trimmers that may not fit in a bucket can be sponged with the bleach solution, reapplying it as needed to keep the surface wet for the full 6 minutes. 

  4. 4

    Rinse and towel dry

    Thoroughly rinse the garden tools with clean water, then wipe them dry with the towel.

    faucet with water

Frequently asked questions

Can you use bleach to clean during a parasitic nematodes and disease causing fungi quarantine?

Yes, to clean garden tools, planters and other objects in a quarantine area, mix 1 part bleach to 8 parts water. Scrub areas and implements thoroughly, then wipe or allow to dry naturally. Workers doing the treatment must wear waterproof gloves. Small tools or implements and other items may be immersed for 5 to 10 minutes in the solution instead of scrubbing manually.

How long does a bleach and water solution last?

Bleach and water solutions need to be made fresh each day that you use them because the bleach active, combined with your tap water, breaks down quickly into salt and water. Ready-to-use products, on the other hand, are formulated with a one-year shelf life when properly stored away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place.

What’s the best way to dispose of a bleach and water solution?

The bleach and water solution can be easily disposed of by pouring it down any sink drain.