Rob Millar
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Location: England

Sterilising Gardening Tools

I clean my secatuers, edging sheers, loppers etc with wire wool and WD40. I have been looking for something to sterilise them as well.

Is Jeys Fluid ok? Does anyone know of anything more specialist and where to get it? (local garden centres don't stock much). Is what im doing already with just wire wool and WD40 ample?

Thanks Guys

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hendi_alex
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I don't generally bother sterilizing. Has to be a bad habit, but just one of my flaws. If sterilizing, would probably just wash/rinse in a weak chlorox solution. Even very dilute chlorox wipes out a whole host of microbes.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Rob Millar
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:22 am
Location: England

Sweet.. Chlorox is related to chlorine I presume? Is it the sort of thing you can get without a certificate?

Ive never bothered before either, ive just decided I want to be particular about everything. Call me boring but.....

cynthia_h
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Clorox is a brand of laundry/general bleach sold in the U.S. You can pick it up at a grocery store or drug store (not the pharmacy part, but the general goods part).

When I volunteered at an animal shelter after Katrina, we were instructed to make a 3% solution of bleach (which is already fairly dilute, chemically speaking): 1 oz. bleach per quart of water. Then to spray the bathtub after each animal and let the tub air dry while animal #1 was returned to its kennel and animal #2 was being brought out.

There were a number of skin conditions these dogs (and a few cats) were suffering from, and the bleach spray was to prevent cross-contamination.

Sounds like making a similar solution and wiping it on the blades of the tools would do the trick, then follow by lubricating the hinge/joint, if applicable. I've seen recommendations in Sunset to sterilize tools between pruning possibly diseased plants (e.g., removing diseased branches from plant A and not wanting to contaminate plant B).

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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hendi_alex
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As Cynthia says, clorox is a brand name for liquid chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite solution). Any offbrand will do, though there are some liquid bleaches available now that are not sodium hypochlorite, so read the label. Also, though chlorine bleaches are dilute, that is not to suggest that they are less than very caustic and deserve care in their use. Several years ago, the bleach manufacturers increased the concentration, likely to save on shipping and handling as the container size was roughly halved. Long before then I was once using clorox solution to clean mildew and algae from the paint on my house (a job that it does exceedingly well!). At the time I didn't know that clorox breaks down rubber. It is my understanding that drag racers will put it on their tires to soften the rubber and help with traction. Anyway, the clorox ate through my playtex gloves which was not noticed until my fingers started stinging. The solution, diluted about 50% had eaten several layers of skin off of my hand and virtually eliminated my finger prints for several weeks. That memory also reminds me of an old Alfred Hitchcock episode. In the film, a man murdered his wife, then brought in jars of acids and bases. He first disolved her tissue with the strong bases and then disolved her skeleton with the strong acids, all down the bathroom tub. His assumption was no body, no crime. Well, chlorine bleach does the same thing though is less caustic than sodium hydroxide (lye). It will dissolve skin and can be very damaging if gotten in your eye. So for your use, dilute to only a few percent. Don't splash on your clothes as it will eat holes in them if very concentrated. And give care to wash any off that contacts your skin.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Rob Millar
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:22 am
Location: England

sweeeet. Great advice

Thats what I was afraid of, cross contamination. Its something my old teaches and the more 'old school' or 'in depth' growers I have worked with used to say. And there always right.

Many thanks guys

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