Disinfecting garden tools can help ensure the long-term health of plants and vegetables. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, plant pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, cause diseases that can damage and even kill plants. These pathogens can be transferred to plants and infect them through bits of soil and plant debris that get stuck on common gardening tools, including shovels and pruners.
Pathogens are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye, which is why even tools that appear clean may still contain harmful substances on their surfaces that can prove life-threatening to plants. Disinfecting tools at the appropriate time, such as when the tools are being stored during the fall, or before using them when spring arrives, or after using them to remove infected plants, can prevent the damage caused by invisible pathogens.
When it comes to disinfecting garden tools, avoid using strictly bleach, as the University of Minnesota Extension notes that bleach corrodes metal, rendering tools that require sharp edges ineffective. A great homemade solution that’s nine parts water and one part bleach can be used to effectively clean shovels, spades, and rakes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in concentrations of 70 percent or more can effectively disinfect surfaces for bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Such a solution can be used to disinfect hand pruners and other small hand tools. Additionally, store-bought cleaners with an active ingredient that is .1 percent alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharinate can also be effective when disinfecting small hand tools, as well as small pots and saucers.
Disinfecting garden tools can help ensure the long-term health of plants and vegetables.