Should You Oil Your Garden Tools?

If you’re an avid gardener, you probably use your garden tools often. With more use comes more wear and tear, so it’s essential to know how to maintain your gardening equipment. So, should you oil your garden tools to keep them in good condition?

You should oil your garden tools to keep them in good working order. As you use them, they will become dirty and dried out. Cleaning them and adding some oil can make a world of difference, and it can make gardening easier and more pleasurable. You should oil all wood and metal tools.

The rest of this article will discuss the importance of oiling your garden tools. It will also discuss how to care for your tools, the best and worst oils to use, and how oftent you should take your gardening equipment through this process.

Should You Oil Metal and Wooden Garden Tools?

You should oil metal and wooden garden tools because both materials will deteriorate if you use them frequently. Metal may get rusty, and wood may become rough or moisture-damaged. 

In many cases, garden tools will have a wooden handle and a metal body. If this rings true for your gardening equipment as well, you should oil both parts. The wooden handle is likely to get moisture damaged from your hand’s warmth and humid weather, so it’s good to maintain it consistently by keeping it clean and oiling it a few times a year.

The metal body might get rusty from moisture and constantly touching the soil. If it’s a tool like garden shears, they might get stiff to use and need some oil for lubrication. Another tool that needs consistent lubrication is a hedge trimmer to maintain friction.

Below, I’ll discuss how to care for metal and garden tools in greater detail.

Caring for Metal Garden Tools

There are a few steps to take before you decide to use oil when it comes to metal garden tools. Since garden tools are expensive, you must know how to clean and oil them correctly. Otherwise, you risk damaging them or reducing their lifespan. You certainly want to avoid that!

Now, let’s look at the different necessary elements to consider when you want to oil your metal garden tools:

Wash Your Metal Garden Tools With Bleach

The first thing you should do is wash your metal garden tools. There’s no point in oiling a tool if it has dirt and debris on it because the process won’t be as effective. 

If you’re wondering what product to use, one of the best options is bleach. Mix bleach with water and wipe the tools until they’re as clean as possible. It might be necessary to leave some of your metal tools soaking in bleach for a few minutes, especially if it’s been a while since the last clean.

Once they’re finished soaking, you should rinse them in water until the bleach solution is completely gone. Your tools should be noticeably cleaner now. Once rinsed, dry off with a clean dry cloth.

Apply Oil

The next step is to apply oil. You should only use oil once the tools are completely dry. If you attempt to put oil on a wet tool, the water will act as a shield, and the process won’t be as effective. 

One of the best oils to use is flaxseed oil (also known as linseed oil) because it’s natural and won’t harm your tools or the soil. For a quicker drying time, use boiled flaxseed oil.

You can use a cloth to apply the flaxseed oil around the tool. Make sure you oil every part of it. Other oil types you can use include:

  • Tung oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil

Wait To Dry

Once you’ve applied the oil, you need to let it dry. It’s good to keep your freshly oiled garden tools in as much sunlight as possible because doing so will help the oil dry faster. Once the oil has dried, you can use your garden tools. 

You should notice that they look newer and are smoother and easier to use!

Caring for Wooden Garden Tools

Wooden garden tools require a bit more care and effort than their metal counterparts. However, their maintenance is still an easy process and something you only need to do once or twice a year. This section mainly focuses on tools with wooden handles, so you should read ahead if you’re wondering how to care for these.

Here are the steps you’ll want to take when washing and oiling wooden garden tools:

Wash Your Wooden Garden Tools

The first step is to wash them. If you have metal tools with wooden handles, you should avoid a bleach soak because the substance will stain the wood. Instead, you can use water. Alternatively, you can use a wet cloth to clean your gardening equipment if it’s not too dirty. 

If the tools are particularly grimy, you can opt for some dish soap (a small amount will do just fine). Once washed, either dry your tools with a cloth or allow them to dry naturally.

Sand Your Wooden Garden Tools

The next step is sanding. This is an extra step that isn’t necessary with metal-only tools. If your metal tool has a wooden handle, you can sand the wooden part. To do so, you can use some sandpaper. 

This will eliminate any previous oil and damage, giving you an easier surface to work with. 

Oil Your Wood Garden Tools

Once the wood is sanded, you can apply the oil. If it’s a tool made of wood and metal, you can use the same oil for both parts. You need to grab some oil and place it on a clean cloth. Wipe the oil all over the tool’s surface  with the fabric, ensuring you cover every part. 

What Oil Is Best for Garden Tools?

Flaxseed oil is best for garden tools because it’s natural and not harmful to the soil. It’s important to use non-toxic oil on your garden tools because they will likely come into contact with your soil and plants. Flaxseed oil is the perfect choice because it isn’t harmful to plants.

However, there are some oil varieties that you should avoid. An example would be polyurethane (especially oil-based). This type of oil can cause damage to plants and soil, so you should avoid it. If you’re interested in learning more about using polyurethane in the garden, you can check out this article: Is Polyurethane Ever Safe for Gardens?

You should also avoid petroleum products on your garden tools because they often tend to be thick, so they can damage and clog the soil.

Some oils you likely have lying around your kitchen (such as vegetable or coconut oil) are better choices.

How Often Should You Oil Garden Tools?

You should oil garden tools whenever it’s needed. The frequency will depend on the specific tools and how often you use them—if you use your tools every day, you might need to oil them several times a week/month/year. If not, you’ll rarely need to oil them.

For tools like shears, you should oil them whenever they start to feel stiff and get difficult to use. However, the wooden parts don’t need to be oiled as frequently (once or twice a year should be fine).

When you try to open and close them, they might feel heavy or make a squeaky noise. If that’s the case, they likely need some oil for lubrication.

When it comes to hedge trimmers, you should oil them after each use. You may even need to lubricate them during each use if you use them for an extended period because they dry out quickly. 

Failing to oil your hedge trimmer enough means it won’t work correctly, and it could cause damage.

Should You Oil a Metal Rake?

You should oil a metal rake to keep it looking new and prevent rusting. Before oiling your rake, you should ensure it’s clean and free from dirt and debris. You can grease the entirety of the rake using a cloth.

Like any other metal garden tool, rakes are susceptible to rusting and other problems if proper care isn’t taken. Since your rake is likely to often touch the soil and ground, it will be subject to moisture and plenty of dirt. You don’t need to oil it often, but it’s good to do it when it begins to look worn.

Should You Oil a Wooden Raised Garden Bed?

You should oil a wooden raised garden bed to protect it from deterioration and rot. Flaxseed oil is one of the best oils you can use for a wooden raised garden bed. A treated garden bed will last longer than an untreated one.

If you decide to treat your wooden garden bed with oil, let it dry thoroughly before placing any soil and seeds inside. Otherwise, the process may affect the soil and plant growth.


You should always oil your garden tools. Doing so keeps them in excellent condition and helps them last longer. Oiling prevents rusting and improves the useability of specific tools like garden shears and hedge trimmers.

Before oiling tools, it’s essential to clean them first to remove any dirt. Flaxseed oil is an excellent oil to use for all garden tools (and even wooden raised garden beds) because it’s natural and non-toxic.

How often you should oil your tools depends on the specific tool and how often you use it. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts