How to Clean Your Power Tools

how to clean power tools

Keep Your Tools Clean!

Anyone who’s been to the hardware store and shopped for any kind of power tool knows just how expensive they can be. Buying power tools is an investment. They allow you to perform routine house and vehicle work that would be much more expensive with professional contractors or mechanics.

While quality-made power tools are quite sturdy, they won’t last very long if they aren’t properly maintained and stored. We’ve talked about storage in other articles, but keeping your power tools clean is an art in itself. Routine maintenance on a regular basis is extremely important!

Cleaning your power tools helps to keep them functioning properly. In fact, tools are far more likely to break down without routine maintenance. While using your tools, you’re putting them under heavy stress and exposing them to heat, hard materials, and dust.

This can dull the sharp edges of your tools. Even worse, debris like wood particles and other hard materials can get lodged into the moving parts of your power tools. This can cause damage to critical parts that cannot be easily replaced.

Regular maintenance can save you time and money by extending the lifespan of your tools and their accessories. Read on and learn how to keep your tools clean and looking like new, project after project!

The Type of Tool Matters

Before you break out the wash buckets and start scrubbing away, it’s important to know the right approach based on what kind of tool you’re going to clean. For example, power tools are very different than cleaning simple hand tools like a screwdriver or wrench.

Regular cleaning of handheld tools is quite simple and only takes a few steps. When you’re cleaning handheld tools all you’ll really need is some water, an all-purpose cleaner, a wash rag, and a corrosion protection agent like WD-40.

Fill up your wash bucket with warm water, mix in the all-purpose cleaner and scrub away! Once you’ve finished and your hand tools are clean, make sure that you thoroughly dry off your tools.

Leftover moisture will speed up rusting and corrosion of the tool. This could make them unsafe to use in the future.

After your tools have dried, apply your protective agent. After, make sure that you store your tools away safely. Improper storage could leave you with rusty tools that fail you when you need them most.

By comparison, cleaning power tools has more steps and points to consider. When you’re cleaning power tools, you’ll need much of the same equipment: an all-purpose cleaner, WD-40, and a rag and wash bucket. You should also make sure that you have a can of compressed air. It will help clean hard-to-reach parts of your tool without having to disassemble it.

Now that you know what you’ll need, let’s review the steps in detail!

How to Clean Your Power Tools

While your exact steps may differ from power tool to power tool, in general, the cleaning process will look something like the following. First, and most importantly, make sure that every power tool you are cleaning is unplugged from any power source. Water and electricity do not mix.

Once you’re certain that your electric tools are disconnected, grab your can of compressed air and blow away all the debris and dust. Pay extra attention to hard-to-reach areas. They notoriously collect bits of your projects that get left behind.

After the outer surface is free from debris, fill up your wash bucket with warm water and add in your all-purpose cleaner. The water will foam up once you mix in the tool cleaner. Next, take a wire brush or other cleaning instrument, soak it in the cleaner and start washing!

If you’re using a wire brush or other abrasive instrument, make sure that you use a lighter touch. You don’t want to scratch and damage your tools while you’re cleaning them. A wire brush is great for removing any rust buildup and leaving a clean surface behind, but if you’re not careful, it could do more harm than good.

If some spots are hard to reach with your wire brush or rag, you can use a smaller instrument like a Q-tip. Keep in mind, that this will not be strong enough to remove any rust. It is, however, a great way to get rid of dust buildup that your compressed air container may have missed.

Once your tools have been thoroughly cleaned, get a dry, clean cloth to wipe down the surface of your tools. As with hand tools, you need to make sure that your tools are completely dried before you prepare them for storage. Any moisture left behind will cause rusting.

Storing Your Power Tools Properly

Before storing your tools for their next use, this is a great time to apply your corrosion protection agents like WD-40. Take another clean cloth and apply the WD-40, then use that cloth to wipe down all the metallic parts of your tool.

WD-40 creates a protective layer over the metal surface that repels dirt and dust. When dust builds up on a surface, it attracts moisture, and this, in turn, promotes faster rusting and breakage. WD-40 will help keep your tools shiny and new, even when in storage for long periods of time.

Before putting your tools away for good, double-check any rubber grips or handles, as well as the power cord. If the rubber grips are worn down, they could present another difficult-to-reach spot where debris and dust can build up. If you are able, you should replace these grips before you use the tool again.

For the power cord, make sure there is no fraying or damage as this could indicate a potentially unsafe tool. You can use the same all-purpose tool cleaner to clean the outside of the power cord. Of course, make sure they are completely dry before you put them away or plug them back in.

Cleaning Removable Power Tool Parts

The good news when it comes to cleaning the removable parts of your power tools is that they’re far easier to clean than the actual tool itself. Since the separate components don’t require power, you can clean these the same as any other hand tool.

Of course, you’ll need to be cautious not to cut yourself if you’re cleaning saw blades or any other sharp piece. The easiest way to clean any removable power tool piece is to fill up your wash bucket with hot water and all-purpose cleaner, then soak the removable piece in the mixture.

Let the part soak in the cleaning solution for roughly 10 to 15 minutes to allow any grime buildup to dissolve. As an added bonus, you can use a citrus based all-purpose cleaner which will quickly and effectively dissolve any grime.

After 10 to 15 minutes have elapsed, take the part from the cleaning solution and remove any remaining rust or grime with a wire brush or other abrasive cleaner. After your power tool accessories have been cleaned, be sure to dry them thoroughly.

After the parts have been dried, go ahead and apply your WD-40 for corrosion protection. While you’re manually handling these parts, be sure to take extra care or wear protective gloves so that you don’t accidentally cut your hand or finger while cleaning your tool accessories.

Once you’ve applied WD-40, you should be all set to store your power tool accessories away in the case for future use. Before wrapping up your cleaning, be sure to reassemble any tools that you disassembled during cleaning.

Once your tools are fully cleaned, be sure to store them properly so that your cleaning efforts go the extra mile towards keeping them working properly for a long time!

Keep Your Power Tools Clean for Life

By taking proper, routine care of your power tools you will extend their useful life, saving you time, money, and frustration. Power tools are expensive, but with a little extra effort towards keeping them in pristine shape, you can stave off replacement costs.

Remember, you should never put your tools away after use while they’re still dirty. The dirt and grime will take their toll in the damp, dark conditions that most tools will be stored in. This will accelerate their rusting and decay and could cause your tools to fail when you need them most.

By learning how to clean your power tools, you’ll be taking the steps required to keep your tools for life! Well, maybe not for your entire life, but certainly for as long as you possibly can. Once your tools are cleaned and stored, they’ll be all ready for you to use when your next project calls!


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