Clean tools last longer
After every use, wash soil and grime from tools with a steady spray of water from the garden hose.
If nothing else, tools should be cleaned after each use. Doing so keeps diseases, fungi, insect eggs, and weed seeds from being unwittingly spread around the garden. Cleaning also extends the life of a tool by removing moisture-laden, rustenhancing soil from steel surfaces. For tools with a keen edge, a good cleaning keeps rust from eating the edge away.
Spades, rakes, hoes, trowels, and any other tools that come into contact with soil should be hosed off with water after each use. With the garden hose nozzle adjusted for maximum pressure, average garden soil washes away easily. To remove heavy clay soil, some scrubbing with a hard bristle brush also may be necessary. After washing any tool, dry it with a cotton rag before putting it away.
Tools that don’t come in contact with soil, particularly those with sharpened edges like axes, pruning shears, and knives, should be wiped down with a thick, rough cotton cloth to remove any gums and saps from their blades. When working on pitch-producing plants like conifers, dampen the cloth with a little paint thinner before wiping. In all cases, once dirt and residue are removed, dry the tool with a clean cotton rag.