The Best Way To Safely Clean Power Tools, According To Our Home Improvement Expert

With repeated use, dirt and grime can build up on power tools. Cleaning your power tools can help ensure they stay free of dust and dirt that can interfere with their performance and longevity. This is important because some power tools have a hefty price tag, so you want them to last as long as possible. It can be a pain to clean power tools if you don't know how to do it properly. Stuck-on oil and grease can be hard to remove.

Brian Shaunfield, a store manager at Lowe's, spoke extensively with House Digest about the best way to safely clean power tools. It's surprisingly easy with the right know-how and a few basic supplies that you probably already have at home. "Before beginning the cleaning process, ensure that all corded power tools are unplugged and that all handheld tools have the batteries removed" said Shaunfield. Then, you simply clean your tools using a mixture of dish soap and water. You can remove rust by sanding rusty spots and spraying them with a vinegar and salt solution. 

Hazards of cleaning power tools improperly

In this exclusive interview, Shaunfield made a point of emphasizing the need to detach your tools from their power source before cleaning. Indeed, one of the most serious hazards associated with power tools is electric shock. Not unplugging these tools before cleaning them can result in serious injury and even death. You should never leave power tools unplugged around water.

Additionally, you may be tempted to skip wearing protective gear on the basis that you really don't need it since you're not actually using the tool. However, Shaunfield pointed out, "Not handling tools with the proper protective equipment (gloves, etc.) could put you at risk of injuring yourself, especially around blades and sharp edges on the tools." The last thing you want is to end up in the emergency room with a deep cut after cleaning your saw. Finally, always read the instruction manuals for specific cleaning recommendations for your tools.

How to clean your power tools

After you make sure you're following safety protocols, fill a bucket with hot water and a couple drops of dish soap. Scrub the outside of the tools using a foam sponge or scouring pad. Make sure you avoid getting soap inside tool vents or battery compartments. "For more built-on dirt, I recommend using a steel wool pad or a tougher brush, as well as some all-purpose cleaner, for a more thorough clean," said Shaunfield. If you have small drill bits, soak them in warm, soapy water for 30 minutes. 

Once you are finished cleaning the tool, towel it off and allow it to dry completely before replacing the battery pack or plugging it in. If your tool has rust on it, you'll want to know that the secret weapon against rust is sandpaper. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of white vinegar and salt. Spray the rust and allow the solution to sit for at least 30 minutes. Then, use your sandpaper to easily remove the rust.