Winterizing Yard Tools in 5 Steps

An assortment of yard tools leaning against a wall.
What You'll Need
wire brush
cotton cloth
light sandpaper
steel wool
vegetable oil or olive oil
replacement oil and air filters
heavy-duty cloth

Those same old yard tools you use in the summer, spring, and fall may not hold up during the course of the winter unless you give them a little extra attention and care. Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures will take their toll on your yard tools if you do not store them properly and leave them without regular maintenance. Check out these specialized tips for winterizing your yard tools so that they may last a long time.

Step One - Clean Up

Before putting your tools away for the cold season, clean any debris or residue off or out of them. This should include mechanical tools such as lawn mowers or weed trimmers, in addition to rakes and shovels. Dirt, plants, and debris can rust yard tools or cause these tools to work improperly in the future. Use a wire brush, cotton cloth, or light sandpaper to clean metal tools, depending on how dirty they are. Soak non-electrical tools as needed in water beforehand and rinse them clean if they have debris or a coating that is stubborn and does not want to come off.

Step Two - Sanding and Oiling

Sand away any rust on your tools before you store them for the winter. This should include any gardening tools or yard tools such as rakes or shovels. After sanding the rust away with steel wool or light sandpaper, moisturize these same tools with a coating of oil to keep them from getting too dry in the cold weather and becoming damaged due to cracking or breakage. Vegetable oil, olive oil, or any other cooking oil you may have around the house will preserve any wood on these tools and keep the metal in good condition.

Step Three - Sharpen

Pre-winter is one of the best times to get all of your tools in their absolute best condition. Sharpen any tools with blades, such as saws and tree trimmers. When you bring out the tools for use in the following spring, they will be clean, sharp, and ready to go.

Step Four - Oil and Fuel

Yard machinery that uses oil to run needs to be prepared for winter. First, drain all the oil before storing this machinery for the next few months of the year. Dirty oil left inside the machinery can cause damage to essential seals and important engine parts as it sits through the winter. Oil filters and air filters should be replaced. Any other machinery that has a fuel filter should have it replaced as well to prevent the filter from corroding due to any dirt and debris left behind. Any fuel left in the tool should be drained, or a fuel stabalizer could be added to the tank to keep the fuel good for another few months.

Step Five - Storing Tools

Choose a place that is clean and dry to store tools for the winter. Hooks are a nice idea for some smaller tools or ones with sharp blades. Drawers can keep small tools off the ground and serve as an organizer. If you have tall tools such as rakes, shovels, or weed trimmers, the area will have to be tall enough to hold these tools, as well.

Cover your tools with sharp edges, points, or other areas that could injure you or anyone else reaching for a tool in the future. Use plastic bags, tarps, or heavy-duty cloth to wrap around the parts of tools that could accidentally cause injury to you or others. You may want to wrap heavy-duty cloth around any tools with blades, so that when you're unpacking tools in the future no injuries are caused if you grab the tool near the blade, point, or other hazardous surfaces. After the course of several months, it is easy to reach for one tool, forgetting about the others nearby.

Store those tools you wish to keep but cannot get clean (free of rust) in a bucket of sand. The sand will prevent moisture from reaching the tools, which means less rusting and a much longer life for your favorite tools.