Scrape Off Garden Dirt

All gardening tools are subject to getting dirty. Digging tools and hoes are especially suseptible and will accumulate dirt or even mud at times.

Clean Tools Begin Here

Grill brush-scraper

The first step in cleaning your garden tools is to use a scraper of some kind to dislodge larger deposits of dirt. After every use, scrape off any accumulations.

Do it right away while it is loose and dirt will be easy to remove.

Tools for Scraping

A wide variety of tools, even some home made ones, work well for scraping off the dirt that gets on your garden tools.

1. Here is a picture of a scraper I made from a spare piece of a board I found in a throw away pile of wood in my shop. A little sanding shaped the scraping end and a little more rounded off the handle end to make it comfortable to use. Finally I rubbed on a bit of linseed oil as a preservative.

home made wood scraper

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it! Of course you would not need to take such pains if you do not want to (actually it took me only 5-10 minutes). But, almost any stick or piece of wood can get the job done and in only a few minutes you can make a really neat, homemade scraper.

2. My favorite scraper for cleaning larger tools is a grill brush with a scraper blade on the end (see image above). In addition to the scraper, look for one with a longer handle. This makes it easier for cleaning up longer/larger tools.

I keep mine hanging just inside the door where I bring in my tools so I can step outside to scrape off the dirt.

3. It also helps to have a smaller scraper of some kind to use where a larger one is difficult. Action hoes and other tools, even the joint areas on some shovels, etc., have areas that are receded.

One of the most useful small tools, very inexpensive, for getting into these areas is what is most often called the “painter’s tool.”

painter's tool

4. Scrape or brush off remaining dirt and mud with a wire brush. This is why I like the grill brushes for this. They incorporate both a scraper blade and brush in one tool for better efficiency.

Steel brushes are minimally OK for shovels, but not for hand tools. Brass is better. Steel will scratch up your tools. Brass is readily available and no more expensive so there is no reason not to use it.

small brass brushes

In addition you will need at least two or three sizes for different tools. I like using one of the tooth brush sized ones for pruners and getting into smaller areas which you will need at times.

Get Rid of Dirt

Dirt is good in your garden but not on your tools for a number of reasons. For many, such as any cutting tools, it leads to dull, less effective tools. But another reason to get rid of dirt is that any moisture in the dirt leads to rust, another enemy of tools.

One of the best habits you can develop is to scrape off the dirt from your tools every time you use them, before putting them away.

Once you have scraped and brushed off all the dirt on your tools you will be ready for the next step, washing and/or wiping.