Secateurs are an essential tool for every gardener and a piece of kit we use almost every day. But it’s important to keep them sharp. Heavy use clogs them with plant sap and blunts the blades which can tear plant tissue and allow disease in.


In our video guide, Alan Titchmarsh highlights the importance of looking after your secateurs by oiling and sharpening them every few weeks so that they are always safe and easy to use.

Pruning tools like secateurs and loppers will function better, last longer and be safer to use if clean, sharp and well-oiled. Sharp blades cut cleanly, leaving a tidy wound on the plant which should heal fully and reduce the risk of disease affecting the plant. Keeping tools clean also guards against disease being spread between plants.

On the hunt for new secateurs? Take a look at our guide to choosing secateurs before you buy.

Discover how to sharpen secateurs and maintain them so they last longer, below.

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You Will Need

  • WD40
  • Sand paper
  • Sharpening stone
  • Oil
  • Cloths
  • Replacement blade (if needed)

Step 1

Testing secateurs on cornus stems

Test the cutting action of your secateurs often; they should cut cleanly with no ripping. If the cut isn't clean or stems get caught up in the blades they'll need to be sharpened and maybe tightened.

Step 2

Cleaning garden tools bypass pruners secateurs pruning use scouring pad to clean edges and blades 17/11/2014 171114 17112014 17th 17 November 2014 Autumn Joe Swift WTDN photographer Sarah Cuttle location Linnette Ralph Warner Road London practical seasonal maintenance step by step
Cleaning bypass pruners secateurs

Clean all metal parts thoroughly using a scourer or fine wire wool. This should remove any signs of rust developing and take off any build-up of plant and sap residue left on the blades.

Step 3

Gardening mistakes - sharpening secateurs
Sharpening secateurs

To sharpen a blunt blade, use a sharpening stone. Holding it flat rub it across the surface of the blade. Then turn the secateurs over and position the stone so it is at the same angle as the bevelled edge and work it along the blade.

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Step 4

Oiling secateur blades

Regular oiling keeps the moving parts lubricated and smooth and repels water from the metal parts, thus avoiding rust. Oil the spring and revolving shaft. You can also wipe oil on the blades with a cloth.

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Step 5


Many brands of secateurs can be taken apart to help you give them a really good clean and they will usually provide a tool to do this with. Unlock the screws and carefully dismantle the secateurs, remembering where each piece went. You can then remove the blade and sharpen it on a flat sharpening stone, oiling the stone first. When you’re finished, fasten the secateurs back together. If the blade is damaged and broken you may also be able to buy a new blade and simply take the secateurs apart and swap in the new blade.

Top garden tools to maintain

  • Secateurs and loppers – keep them sharp and clean for ease of use and plant health
  • Spades and hoes – much easier to use with a clean blade and sharp end
  • Pruning saw – keep clean and sharpen professionally