Hat, pruners and gloves in the garden

Disinfecting your garden tools

How often do you disinfect your garden tools?
Can’t remember? Then now is the time!

It is important to disinfect your garden tools to prevent the spread of pathogens in your landscape. Cleaning is a different task, though also important to preserve the life of your tools.There are a few different products that can be used to disinfect garden tools.

Tree Pruning

Tree pruning. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension

1. Chlorine bleach: easy to use and inexpensive, but can be corrosive and not the best choice against viruses.
Recipe: 10% bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) and soak for 30 minutes. Rinse with clean water.

2. Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol: can be wiped onto tools, no soaking or rinsing required, but is flammable.
Recipe: 70-100% alcohol solution either wiped or dipped.

3. Pine oil: not as corrosive or effective as other products.
Recipe: 25% solution (one part pine oil to three parts water) and soak tools.

4. Trisodium phospates (TSPs): inexpensive, very corrosive, can burn skin.
Recipe: 10% solution (one part TSP to nine parts water) and soak for at least three minutes. Rinse with clean water.

5. Industrial disinfectant products: available at agricultural/horticultural supply. Follow the label of the product.

If possible, sanitize after each plant to prevent the spread of pathogens. You can rotate tools by using one tool and sanitizing the other. It is important to sanitize your tools frequently to promote healthy plants and prevent the spread of unwanted disease.

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