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Quick Clean for Small Tools

By Joannabanana
November 1, 2012

Clean your small tools in the dishwasher and then spray with oil for added protection against rust. Quick and easy!

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Name: Paul
Allen Park, MI (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Canning and food preservation Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Roses Region: Michigan
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paulgrow
Nov 1, 2012 9:43 AM CST
I wouldn't advise this.
The powdered dish detergent is very abrasive and may pit your tools and it is an oxidizer which is not good for steel.
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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Joannabanana
Nov 1, 2012 9:51 AM CST
Hi Paul,

Thanks for the advise. I only do once a year for the clean-up before winter storage. Yes, I do agree, that you wouldn't want to use the dishwasher cleaning on a regular basis for the very reason that you have pointed out.
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Nov 1, 2012 1:48 PM CST
what about liquid dish detergent?
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
May 6, 2013 10:33 AM CST
>> liquid dish detergent?

I don't think that can be caustic the way di8shwasher detergent is. We have to put our hands in it! So I don't think it would corrode steel or encourage it to rust.

But it's still a good idea to rinse well and oil afterwards (the tools, not the dishes!)
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
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fiwit
May 6, 2013 1:10 PM CST
RickCorey said:>> liquid dish detergent?

I don't think that can be caustic the way di8shwasher detergent is. We have to put our hands in it! So I don't think it would corrode steel or encourage it to rust.

But it's still a good idea to rinse well and oil afterwards (the tools, not the dishes!)


I'm asking about liquid dishwasher detergent. I dont' used powders in my washer or dishwasher either one. I prefer liquids. So it's still a dishwasher question
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 6, 2013 4:56 PM CST
Ahh. I haven't looked at those, but I would assume:
- no abrasives
- just as caustic (basic) as powder dishwasher detergent.

So if abrasion is the only problem, dishwasher liquid is safe.

I wouldn't expect caustic to corrode stainless steel tools at all, but maybe some shears use high-quality carbon steel. See below.

If you do worry a lot about corrosion, maybe you should worry about leaving carbon steel WET in the dishwasher for 40-50 minutes, regardless of chemicals. I wouldn't let carbon steel that I cared about (a knife) sit wet in hot distilled water for the length of time a dishwasher runs.

Plain water rusts carbon steel too much for my taste!

Hand-washing is faster than a dishwasher. Or give it 3-5 minutes in the soapy cycle, then pull it out, rinse, dry and oil. Dishwasher interruptus.

That said, if it was not a knife or a classy pair of shears with carbon steel blades, I would not worry a bit. Some spades and rakes, I leave wet and muddy for days! So it's a personal value decision.

Are there any grounds for concern about accelerated caustic corrosion with carbon steel? I'm not positive. Even if it DOES take any shine off a carbon-steel trowel, it might replace the shine with a patina like "blueing" and resist further rust.

But if you're trying to keep carbon steel tools shiny, get someone else to try the experiment first!

Joanna, what do you find? Do you know if your dishwasher removes any of the shine from plain old carbon steel tools, the kind that rust if mistreated? The picture in the Idea shows many shears, several with blades that look like carbon steel, perhaps with very dark blueing or some kind of coating I would not expect on stainless.

- Don't run it through the electrically-dried cycle if you worry about corrosion.

- Definitely rinse carefully afterwards and then oil it promptly if it's carbon steel.

- If you wouldn't let your garden hose spray cold, clean water on it for 50 minutes, don't put it in the dishwasher for 50 minutes in very hot, slightly caustic water.


- - Nerd Addendum - - - -

Online advice about caustic and carbon steel was a little varied, but the impression I took away was that only STRESS-corrosion cracking is any concern, until you get to 50% NaOH and above somewhere around 150 F or 50 C. And maybe, even above those limits, it's still only SCC that they were referring to. And SCC is about micro-cracks becoming bigger and weaker over time and stress ... stress like "in a bridge", or high-pressure pipes, or an automobile suspension.

So partly, I would guess that SCC ought NOT to be a big concern for hand tools.

On the other hand, hardened knife steel or shear edges could retain SOME stress from heat-treating (even after annealing). And it doesn't take much corrosion to dull a really really sharp edge.

>> 50% NaOH and above somewhere around 150 F or 50 C.

I think dishwashers approach 150F - and exceed it during the dry cycle.

Offhand, I would expect dishwasher powder or liquid to be much less strong than than 10% or even 5% sodium hydroxide. So there should be a safety factor of 5 or 10 on the concentration of the caustic detergent. After all, you can dish-wash wood many times before it softens, and it doesn't strip the hair and skin off your hands. So how many annual washes would it take to affect carbon steel at all, even if it does turn out to be slightly vulnerable?

Dull a shine? Dull an edge? (on carbon steel, not stainless)
I can't be sure, but I would GUESS not very much.

P.S. Acid, like vinegar, etches and corrodes most metals MUCH faster than caustic does.
So if you have very acid water, maybe the dishwasher is SAFER for carbon steel than tapwater would be!


Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Dec 14, 2014 10:15 AM CST
I totally love this idea and will give it a try tomorrow! Thanks so much!

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