How to Properly Sanitize Your Tools
It’s always good to keep our tools clean, now more than ever. If you tend to share tools, or if you’re just trying to keep things clean for yourself, we have some methods of cleaning and disinfecting your tools which may come in handy.
Of course, the best advice will always come directly from your local health authority. Check-in with them first to see if any cleaning guidelines are being offered, as they will have the most robust and up-to-date information.
You can watch our video guide on this sanitizing process, or read the rest of this article below:
Bleach can be used to wipe down your tools after use, either by applying it directly to a sponge or cloth or by making a water/bleach solution and using this for cleaning. This is a good option for many because bleach is common, cheap and will help to remove any dirt on your tools.
To make a bleach compound, you’ll just need bleach and water. The correct ratio to mix for a great bleach compound for this purpose, is 5 tablespoons (1/3rd of a cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
Make sure to remove your tool’s battery (if it has one), and clean this area as well. However, with bleach, you should be careful to avoid electronic parts, switches, or metal. You want to make sure you focus heavily on areas that get the most contact with your hands, as these are the problem zones for dangerous germs and bacteria.
The best aspect of using a bleach compound is its ability to remove dirty and stains that may also be on your tool. The worst aspect, unfortunately is that bleach can increase the rusting process on the metal, especially if combined with water. It’s for this reason that using a bleach compound isn’t our most preferred method of sanitizing power tools long-term, but it’s one that will do in a pinch!
Disinfectant wipes are popular because they are very simple, and contain less liquid than some options, which is always good around metal and electrical parts. Just take one out, and use it to wipe down the surface of your tool, making sure to avoid electrical components that could be damaged by moisture. Be careful of what kind of wet wipes you buy, and make sure you choose one that fits your specific needs.
The downsides to wet wipes are that they often are not very strong, and can cause a lot of waste over time. You’re going to want to also ensure they are not left in the open, or they will dry up.
A method we like to use is an alcohol spray, which can be made with a pressurized sprayer (or spray bottle) and 99% proof alcohol. The reason we like this method is that it allows us to disinfect many tools at once. The 99% proof alcohol will evaporate, so there should be no or at least very little water residue, making it safe for metal and electric components. The downside here is that you won’t be removing gunk or dirt, and alcohol can react poorly to some materials.
While there are disinfectant sprays available on the market, we prefer to use isopropyl alcohol both because of its price and consistent results.
For all of the methods we just listed, the most important thing will be to pay attention to your cleaning. Make sure to get into every surface that your hands may touch, and take care that you’re not passing on any germs if you let someone borrow your tools.
If you’re unsure of which method will be best for your tool, take into consideration the various trade-offs. If you want to do a deep clean on a particular tool, then bleach would likely be a good option. For daily use, you may prefer wet wipes, and if you have a large collection of tools that need sanitizing then an alcohol spray may best suit your needs. Like with many things in the toolshed, it’s going to depend on your specific needs. If you find you need any repair parts throughout your tool-cleaning process, visit our website for millions of power tool parts.