How to Clean Hedge Trimmer Blades to Keep Them Sharp

how to clean hedge trimmer blades

Last Updated on June 22, 2021

To keep your hedge trimmer in perfect working order, you need to know how to clean hedge trimmer blades. Maintenance is key, as hedge trimmers end up cutting through branches of various sizes, and you need to keep those blades clean or run into problems.

But carrying out maintenance is easy with this particular garden tool. You need very few tools to complete the process.

So, the advice we are going to give will cover not only an electric hedge trimmer but the other versions that are also available. After all, we are focusing more on the hedge trimmer blades rather than the actual power tool.

Why You Must Clean the Blades

You must clean the blades on your hedge trimmer to keep them sharp so that you can cut through your hedges and trees. As these blades cut through the branches on your hedge or bush, they pick up dirt, sap, and resin. The problem is that any of those things can start to have a negative effect on the blade. Especially tree sap or resin can make the blades sticky and inhibit future use of your hedge trimmer. Before any of this happens, you should be cleaning and maintaining your blades after every use.

Failing to maintain the trimmer blades correctly can lead to them developing a rust problem. Rust will inhibit the sliding action of the two blades that allows them to cut through the branches. You don’t want that to happen, as it means the cutting blades will no longer be as effective.

Now, they also need regular sharpening, and if you want to know more about that, we also have an article just on how to sharpen your blades.

How Often Should You Clean the Blades?

The problem with these blades is that they pick up more debris than most garden tools.

The easiest way to keep your blades clean is to give them (at least) a light clean after every use. You don’t need to go full-on and pull out the hedge trimmer oil after every time. However, you want to make sure the performance of the blades on the machine is not dented by you failing to look after it correctly.

Gently wipe down the blades with a dry cloth, or even using a brush to give them a bit of a scrub if you’ve cut through a lot of sap, will get the job done.

Your General Maintenance Guide

Cleaning your blades after every use is a good mantra to follow. However, you need to know the general maintenance when it comes to trying to clean this tool.

Your aim should be to remove dirt from the blades. You will be surprised by the amount of dirt that accumulates on the tool from your gardening activities. It sits on the shears and stops them from working. Whether it’s small twigs or tree sap, cleaning off any plant residue will be easier to remove if you do it straight after you finished your garden chores. Tree sap, especially, will mean that the blade on your hedge trimmer will not be properly lubricated.

Furthermore, it’s essential to look beyond the teeth on the blade. You also have to look between them. The part where the teeth start to come out of the blades can be a perfect trap for leaves and resin. It can build up and become compacted over time, making your cuts less powerful and making it harder for you to use the trimmer. Moreover, if left in the sun, is build up will harden and become very difficult to remove.

If that happens, then your hedge trimmer will come to a grinding halt. The blades will be unable to move as there’s an obstruction, and you will then need to get your tools out to fix it.

To ensure your general hedge trimmer maintenance is spot on, you need to do the following:

  • Clean off the sap or dirt straight after use.
  • Dry the tool correctly.
  • Lubricate the blades once they are clean to keep this garden tool working effectively.

And that’s the basic concept you need to follow at this point. However, you should be aware that there are several steps and tips that will make life easier, and that’s what we will guide you through now.

Step by Step Guide on How to Clean Hedge Trimmer Blades Properly

Step 1: Remove the Power Source

The first step, as always, is going to be around safety. You need to make sure your hedge trimmer is not plugged into the mains or has the petrol engine engaged in any way.

Step 2: Wear Protective Gear

Safety is always important, so wear gloves. You will be dealing with debris and will need to wipe things off the blade for an effective clean. Therefore, please ensure that you have the appropriate gear when dealing directly with the cutting edge of the blade.

In general, it is good practice to wear protective gear when gardening anyway.

Step 3: Put the Trimmer on a Flat Surface

During the cleaning process, you may be required to add some pressure to get these hedge trimmer blades properly cleaned. Placing your trimmer on a flat and solid surface will provide you with a safe work environment – whether you have to apply any pressure or not. If you have a cord attached, make sure it’s out of the way to prevent any accidents from happening.

Step 4: Start by Brushing

You should begin the cleaning process by brushing the blades with a relatively stiff brush. You will be amazed at how much dirt is going to come off just from this action.

With the brush, you want to get into every part of the trimmer blades. Don’t just focus on the surface, but get into the space between the teeth on the blade.

As a quick tip, this idea of brushing the hedge trimmer blades works best when you do it pretty much immediately after using your electric hedge trimmer. It stops the debris from drying and hardening on the blades.

Step 5: Check the Underside

It’s essential that you also check the underside of the trimmer blades and don’t just look at the part that you can immediately see. The amount of debris that gathers on the bottom of the blade may shock you. Remember, gardening is a messy job, and the resin gets everywhere.

Step 6: Wipe With a Cloth

After you have finished with the brush, get a cloth to wipe over the blades. It will help clean away even more debris, especially if you work on the blade, tooth by tooth. Be careful with the sharp edges, though, so don’t rush things.

Also, using a dry brush or cloth has another advantage: You are not applying any moisture to the hedge trimmer blades. If at all possible, you want to avoid adding moisture at any point of the cleaning process, as you may end up having rust develop on the blade.

Step 7: Use a Tool to Scrape Harder Parts

The chances are that the brush and cloth will have gotten rid of most of the debris, but you may still have some sections that are hard to remove. If this is the case, then you need to get harder tools that will be able to scrape away at the debris.

Be careful not to dig too hard, as you don’t want to slip and injure yourself accidentally.

After scraping the harder areas, use the brush and cloth method again to see what’s left of the residue.

Step 8: Use Lubricant on the Blades

After the cleaning process is complete and you’re satisfied with the way your hedge trimmer looks, make sure you lubricate the blades. Use the right kind of lubricant so it doesn’t negatively affect the blades themselves.

Put some oil on a rag, and rub it into the blades. Alternatively, if you use a spray, you can be quite liberal with your application. Just ensure you don’t soak the machine and wipe away any excess with a rag.

At this point, you are done with cleaning your hedge trimmer blades. You can then test it out on your hedges or plants to see that it’s trimming everything just as you would expect it to.

Other Tips for Cleaning Hedge Trimmer Blades With a Brush

Let’s say you are struggling to clean your hedge trimmer with a brush, as the resin or sap is just too hard. At that point, you need to change your approach when dealing with the blades.

One option is to use soap and water. Yes, simple soap and water are highly effective when dealing with this sort of problem.

Using Soap and Water

Make a solution, and then get a stiff brush. Wet the brush, and get to work scrubbing the blades. The soap will often be enough to break through the resin or sap and then get rid of that sticky substance from the blades.

What you then need to do is to make sure you allow the blades to dry. It is an absolute requirement, or rust will develop on the metal, which will affect how they work. As an aside, you should be checking for rust regularly to combat it as soon as possible.

After everything has dried, brush the trimmer with a dry brush or wipe it down with a cloth. Then, lubricate the blades with the correct oil.

Using a Solvent Solution

If you don’t want to use soap and water, a solvent is a further solution to clean and maintain your blades. Using a solvent to remove the hardest debris is the last resort, but some people swear by using this method on their hedge trimmers because of how effective it is.

For this, you should use either alcohol or even diluted bleach. Some people will use a cleaning solvent designed for this purpose, but that’s not always required.

Just as with the soap solution, take the solvent and apply it to a brush or cloth. We recommend doing this outside so that you don’t breathe in too many fumes. The solvent will get to work on breaking down the residue that’s sitting on the blades.

After you have finished scrubbing each edge, rinse the chemicals off. Remember that these chemicals can quickly kill a plant, and you don’t want that to happen.
Once it has dried, lubricate the blades to make sure each piece of metal glides past one another without any problems.

A Warning About This Solution

While a solvent solution is good for getting your machine clean, the same cannot be said for plants. If you do not rinse it off well enough, then when you are trimming your hedges, the solvent may cause damage to your plants.

What You Should Remember

As you can see, cleaning your hedge trimmer blades is not difficult. We recommend you do this regularly, as it prevents wear and tear on your blades. A regular clean will keep the blades clear from dirt and keep them cutting effectively.

Look after your hedge trimmers, and they will last for years to come. Both a petrol and electric trimmer will make the process of trimming hedges and plants much easier, and as long as you remember to oil your hedge trimmer, then it should work effectively for a long time.

Also, regular maintenance will reduce the need to go about sharpening the blades as often. Like we said at the outset, give your hedge trimmer blade a light clean after every single time you use it, and it will go a long way. Although it may be tedious at the moment, you will be glad you did when it saves you from having to try to hack away at the dried residue that is not coming off.

Do you have any tricks for cleaning a sharp blade? Let us know.

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