How to store gardening tools during the winter: Key tips to avoid rust and corrosion

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Keeping your gardening tools in good condition is essential to get the most out of your garden during the livelier seasons. Blunt secateurs and wobbly forks or spades are no good when you’re faced with an overgrown garden, but with the right care, your tools will get the job done and last even longer. Well stored tools are one way to keep them intact, but how can you clean them up before they head to the shed?

How to prepare your gardening tools for winter

As the weather turns, winter gardening jobs can become sparse once the bulk of your winter vegetable seeds and bulbs are planted.

Before ditching the tools for the winter, you should always give them a once over to make sure they’re clean before their ‘dormant period’.

Stowing away your gardening utensils with grass cuttings or soil left on the surface can result in rust and corrosion if left for the winter.


How to clean garden tools

Cleaning your tools is as simple as a quick hose down and a polish to finish off metal components – but these simple steps will go a long way when it comes to preserving your favourite pair of secateurs.

Use your garden hose or fill a bowl with warm water and rinse your garden tools to remove dirt and dust.

Leave to air dry before inspecting each tool to spot any loose fittings, rust or excess dirt.

Key tips for cleaning tools:

  • You may need to polish metal handles or surfaces and lubricate shears or loppers to keep them in optimum condition
  • Tackle splinters and split wood by rubbing each handle down with a cloth dampened in linseed oil to moisturise the wood
  • Clean pots with a bleach soak, followed by WD-40 to prevent fungus growth

Use WD-40

All garden tools need regular maintenance and giving them some TLC before they’re put away in winter, or brought back out in the spring is a great time to do it.

Cleaning alone is not enough for the long life of garden tools, it’s important to lubricate them to keep them safe from environmental factors that cause wear and tear or corrosion.

Speaking to, the team at WD-40 said: “The best product to lubricate garden tools is WD-40 Multi-Use Flexible Straw – ensuring efficient performance each and every time, ready for spring again.”

If the metal parts of your tools are showing signs of rust, spray the rusty area with WD-40, until the rust is well saturated.

Let the tool sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub off the rust using a coarse grit emery sandpaper.

Polish the area with a fine grit emery sandpaper before wiping it down with a clean cloth or material rag.

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How to store your gardening tools

Once you’ve cleaned and polished your tools, it’s time to put them away to keep them sheltered from rain, wind and the freezing temperatures which blast our gardens through winter.

Choose somewhere dry

Leaving your tools propped up in the garden is even worse as most rakes, hoes and spades don’t tend to weather well when exposed to the elements.

The best place to store tools is somewhere dry.

Your garage or garden shed are both good spots, or if you’re limited to space within your home you can just prop most of them in a corner or hang them on hooks.


Shovels need a little extra care when stored as they can quickly become dull when storied with the blade touching the ground.

A dull shovel can make digging much harder work so either hang it on a hook or prop it up handle-down on the ground.


As the lawn enters a dormant phase during the winter, its growth slows right down – leaving no use for your lawnmower through the colder months.

You can keep your lawnmower in good condition ahead of the spring with these simple steps:

  • Clean the frame and underside of the mower with a hose to remove dirt, grit and garden waste
  • Lubricate the frame and components to extend its lifespan
  • Remove the spark plug
  • Check the blade for wear and tear – sharpen or replace it if it appears damaged
  • Disconnect the battery to avoid it starting on its own when stored away

Garden tools top picks

If your tools are beyond repair or are severely damaged even before you’ve stored them for the winter, there are plenty of replacements available for all budgets.

Wilkinson Sword Garden Tools

  • Razorcut Comfort Medium Bypass Pruner- £21.99
  • Gardening tool sharpener – £14.99
  • Bypass Loppers – £29.99
  • Long-handled edging shears £37.99
  • Stainless Steel Hand Trowel – Gardeners’ World ‘Best Buy’ award winner, £11.99

Gardener’s top picks

  • Felco Secateurs Standard No.4 – £49.99
  • Japeto Hori Hori Knife – £29.95

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