The best home hacks for cleaning tools revealed – including black tea and vinegar!

Keep your DIY tools in tip-top condition with these handy hacks

As the nation embraces DIY like never before there's never been a better time to learn some tips and tricks for cleaning tools – to make sure they're up for the job!

To help us improve DIY skills and extend the lifespan of our tools, Lisa Evans from MyJobQuote reveals her top tips for efficiently cleaning tools. Proper cleaning will  prevent trusty tools from deteriorating – when we need them most.

Related: 32 Easy DIY projects and fun makes to do during lockdown for every room in the house!

How to clean handheld tools

steel bucket with cleaning liquid cloth broom and brush

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

Lisa advises, 'To clean handheld tools, you should use a cleaning solution or degreaser, wire brush, hot water, steel wool, soft rag and household oil. Let the tools soak in the cleaning solution for at least half an hour; but the longer they soak for the easier they should be to clean.'

She says we should scrub the tools first using a wire brush, then using the steel wool to remove any rust. Adding, 'If your hand-held tools are prone to rusting, you should be coating them in WD-40 or a household oil every 6 months using a soft rag.'

DIY hack for removing rust

kettle glasses jar and toaster

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

'The most effective cleaners are degreasers, such as WD-40' Lisa says. However she does share some ingenious home hack solutions that will do the job too. Saying, 'If you don’t have any rust removing solutions, there are some DIY options that work great.' All of them are store cupboard essentials, so cost nothing to implement.

'A cold solution of black tea works great at removing rust – leave the tools to soak for at least an hour and you should be able to take the rust right off. Soaking hand tools in white vinegar overnight and scrubbing with a wire brush also removes stubborn rust.'

When using the vinegar solution Lisa does advise mixing baking soda and water to rinse, to neutralise the acidic vinegar.

How to clean power tools

bowl and cloth glass jar with ribbon and cleaning liquid on wooden board

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

Safety first when cleaning power tools – always ensure that they are disconnected from all power supplies before you clean. Lisa says, 'If the power tool is used in woodwork, and in turn collects saw dust, this should be cleared out using compressed air.'

'Using a cleaning solution and rag you should wipe clean your power tools, ensuring not to get the solution anywhere near the power cables or motor. A toothbrush is a great way to clean around buttons and toggles.

Once you've finished cleaning with the solution, wipe down with a dry rag to remove any residue. 'Check for any rust on the metal components and remove with steel wool.'

Related: Top 10 most satisfying DIY jobs to keep yourself busy during lockdown revealed

Regardless of whether you're carrying out a generic clean or a deep clean to remove rust it's recommend that you oil your tools every six months at least. This will prolong their life span and ensure they function perfectly whenever they are needed.

'A dirty and rusty adjustable spanner is no good to anyone if it is seized up solid' says Lisa rightly.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.