Sharpening secateurs

How to maintain secateurs

We show you how to keep your secateurs working well in this step by step project.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

Winter is a relatively quiet time in the garden, so it’s a good opportunity to get ahead with tool maintenance – although you can of course maintain your tools at any time of year.

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.

More tool care advice:

Discover how to maintain secateurs, below.

Keeping tools clean also guards against disease being spread between plants.

You Will Need

  • Multi-purpose oil
  • Wire wool or abrasive cloth
  • Sharpening stone or diamond tool

Total time:

Step 1

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.

Testing secateurs on cornus stems
Testing secateurs on cornus stems

Step 2

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.

Cleaning secateurs with abrasive cloth
Cleaning secateurs with abrasive cloth

Step 3

With bypass secateurs like those shown above, the cutting blade is sharpened on an angle from the outside edge and then the inside edge cleaned flat to leave the blade sharp.

Sharpening secateurs
Sharpening secateurs

Step 4

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.

Oiling secateur blades
Oiling secateur blades

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