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How to Clean Up Rusty Pruning Shears

By Annie Mueller ; Updated September 21, 2017

If you've neglected your pruning shears and find them covered in a nasty coat of rust, save some money before you toss them for a new set. A little elbow grease can get them cleaned off, and a little know-how can keep them sharp and ready to use.

Open the shears so you can access the full length of each blade and lay them on a flat surface.

Clean off as much rust as you can from each blade with the wire brush, then turn the shears over and repeat on the other side of each blade.

Wipe the blades off with a shop cloth or paper towel.

Spray the blades with the WD-40 (or 4-Use Lubricant). Give them a good, even coat on both sides of the blades.

Scour off any remaining rust spots with the steel wool.

Wipe the blades off again to remove rust flakes and excess lubricant.

Apply a light coat of butcher's wax to the blades on both sides and all the way down to the handles. Wipe the handles off with a cloth when you're through so they are not sticky or greasy.

Maintain the shears by wiping off the handles and the blades after every use and applying a new coat of wax to the blades.


Things You Will Need

  • Safety glasses
  • Wire brush
  • WD-40 or Briggs & Stratton 4-Use spray lubricant
  • Steel wool
  • Butcher's wax


  • If you have a small rotary tool, you can purchase a wire wheel attachment and use it to remove rust. It will save you some time.
  • You can try storing your shears, blades pointing down, in a bucket of sand in between uses. The sand will provide some mild sharpening action and protect the shears from moisture.


  • Wear safety glasses when removing rust to avoid having pieces of rust or debris fly into your eyes.

About the Author


Annie Mueller is a professional writer and blogger. Since 2003 she has written extensively on small business, finances, parenting, education and personal growth, and has been published on Financial Edge and many other websites. Mueller attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in English from Mississippi State University.