How to Look after your Tools and Stop them from Rusting

If you stop and speak with an experienced workman, from plumbers / central heating engineers to electricians through to roofers and landscapers, they will all be able to tell you that their tools are their main asset.

And yet, despite being one of the biggest investments some of us make, it can be easy to neglect them when the day to day running of your life and business can get in the way. In turn this can wreak havoc with your tool’s longevity and quality as well as their ability to do the job you need them to do.

At we know the importance of looking after your investments and help your engineers to employ best practice across the board which includes the care and maintenance of their tools.

This not only means that they can always deliver a quality service, but it also gives your engineers the insight needed to have tools that last and make their job as easy and quick as possible.
We’ve written ten top tips to help you with tool maintenance that can help prevent rusting too.

How to Stop Your Tools from Rusting

#1 Storage


You would think it goes without saying that your tools should always be kept somewhere dry and safe. The biggest cause for damage in tools is from exposure to water and so you should make sure you never leave anything outside.

Particularly avoid leaving tools out, overnight where it is left exposed to the elements. Whether it rains or not, there is always moisture in the air in the evening and early mornings, which can be just as damaging as rain.

It isn’t just obvious moisture levels, but humidity that you should think about too. A lot of workshops,
garages, basements can have humidity issues because they are not heated or ventilated properly. Consider a dehumidifier if your workshop has humidity levels that could cause your tools damage.

#2 Packaging

It may not seem like the most space efficient way of storing your tools, but you should try where possible to keep your tools in the original packing they came in.

When it comes to power tools in particular, but this does apply to all tools, if they come in a hard case/plastic case then they are more likely to be better protected if they are kept inside these, than if you leave them on the side, put them on shelves or stuff them in a tool box/bag.

On top of this, these hard cases are usually better protected from moisture or humidity damage. 

#3 Cleanliness


Cleaning is so important to the longevity of your tools. At the end of a working day you should make sure your tools are sparkling clean again and it really shouldn’t be a time consuming part of your tool maintenance.

There are many ways you can keep your tools clean. From having a few rags lying around which you can use to wipe down your hand tools to a good wash with hot soap and water, it’s completely up to you how often and how thoroughly you clean your tools.

The better you clean them and the more regularly you do it, the longer your tools will last. Remember, with power tools you must unplug them first and avoid water. Air compressors are good at safely removing dust and a quick wipe down can really make a difference.

Other elements to keep clean are your working areas, any belts you have on you on a daily basis and any tool kits or bags you use to move your tools from place to place. A quick wipe down removes debris and stops it from transferring onto your tools. Emptying them thoroughly from time to time also prevents any build-up in the bottom of your bags/belts too. 

#4 Lubrication

After cleaning your tools it is essential that you lubricate any moving parts. When it comes to choosing which oil to use as a lubricant, motor oil is usually fine with most power tools but it is best practice to check the user’s guide first. With hand tools we recommend simply giving any metal a light covering of WD-40 and a wipe over to prevent rust. 

#5 Inspection and Repairs


Even if you follow our tips to keep your tools in a healthy state, it isn’t guaranteed that you’re not going to encounter a few issues and breaks here and there. You should know your tools like the back of your hand.
Before and after every use it is recommended that you inspect your tools, looking for any changes, signs of breaks/deterioration and anything that could be a potential hazard.

#6 Look for Electrical Hazards

With power tools again, it is integral you check for any exposed wires or signs of fraying. Electrical hazards must be taken seriously as the side effects could be deadly to the user. Electrical tape may provide you with a quick fix but it is not a long term solution and we would recommend you take a tool in this condition to a professional for repair.

#7 Remove Rust when it First Begins to Appear


Rust will inevitably appear on most metal tools, even when you think you’re doing everything to look after them. It’s not possible to have the perfect conditions all of the time and therefore you have to be prepared to remove rust if you wish to continue using your tools and prevent them from worsening.
In the case of light / early stage rusting, we can recommend a spray of WD-40 and scrub with a Scotch-Brite pad or something else that will not damage / scratch the metal on your tools. For instance, do NOT use sandpaper or you will scratch your assets.

If you have a tool that has a more severe level of rust you can try certain acid rust removers. These usually come in a spray-on, wipe-off application.

Rust-inhibitors can be used after removing rust to stop it coming back, but you must be sure to remove any excess spray immediately to prevent the solution causing damage/eroding away your tools.

#8 Cracks in Housing

With power tools in particular, the plastic can go brittle over time, especially if it’s been left exposed to the elements or makes regular trips without reasonable amounts of protection. Not only can cracks cause the user damage, but they can also be the beginning of problems with your kit.

Water could get in for example and cause irreversible damage. Due to the high number of issues and severity of the consequences that come with cracked housing on tools it is integral that you do not use tools with cracked housing and get them repaired by a professional. Hairline cracks should be fine but you should keep your eye on them. 

#9 Keep it Sharp


Good practice dictates that you should probably start a routine of sharpening tools that require it. Not only will it help your tools perform the way you need them to, but it can also prolong their life.

Some tools will shatter or begin to deform if you allow them to get blunt and continue using them. At the very least we recommend sharpening your tools twice to three times a year.

#10 Top Tip: Silica Gel

When you buy certain products including a lot of fashion items, you come across silica gel packs. Rather than throw them away, we recommend you keep them in drawers or toolkits to help keep rust at bay.

This is a free and easy way to prevent rust build up, but you can invest capital on anti-rust liners or rust inhibitors if you are consistently having issues with rust, although the silica gel packs should do this job well, too. 


Keep these ten tips in mind, next time you’re working with tools and let us know if you have any extra tips you think we should add to our list!

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