Many households throughout the world own hedge trimmers and use them on a regular basis. This is especially valid during the spring, summer, and early autumn. They are extremely handy for keeping your garden under control. In addition they make your borders neat and tidy, and prevent them from encroaching on your space by over-growing. Regular trimming helps to keep your hedges healthy and encourages them to grow densely. As a result they can better perform their purpose as borders.

So it’s fairly obvious why your hedge trimmer is useful out of doors. What you may not know is that it’s extremely important to keep the trimmer blades sharp and clean. Spraying your trimmer with lubricant before using it (and during extended use) can help to reduce the amount of dirt which sticks to the blades.  Despite, you may still need to clean them up afterwards.

Why it is Important to Clean the Blades

Hedge trimmer blades pick up a lot of rubbish and residue every single time you use them. A lot of this build-up will be sticky sap, which will in turn trap more debris. Bits of leaves, twigs, branches, feathers, etc., can all get jammed between the blades. As a result they may seriously affect the trimmer’s functionality. The build-up of plant solids between the blades gets packed in by the movement, and usually baked on by the heat of the trimmer.

This means that the blades get pushed apart and therefore their effectiveness is reduced. Having the cutting edges covered in residue also reduces their ability to cut. So you will have to work harder and with less efficiency than if your trimmer blades are sap-free and sharp. You may also find that your cuts are no longer clean and neat, but tend to snag and end up rough, giving you a much messier finish and spoiling the aesthetic, as well as damaging the plant.

It’s possible that large amounts of build-up could prevent the blades from turning freely, which could – in extreme cases – actually cause damage to your machine. Therefore, you should regularly clean your blades, removing any debris and ensuring the blades are clear and can cut with maximum efficiency.

Read more about Best Telescopic Hedge Trimmers.

How to Clean Blades Properly and Safely

Whenever you handle machinery, it’s very important to take the proper safety precautions. Before you begin cleaning the hedge trimmer blades, you ought to make sure that the machine is switched off and disconnected from its power source (whether mains or battery). So there is absolutely no chance of it accidentally being turned on while you’re cleaning it.

Secondly, you should wear gloves to protect your hands in case you slip. You don’t want to cut yourself on the blades. As you will be working hard to get the debris out, this is a possibility. Make sure your trimmer is laid flat on a stable surface. Afterwards loop any trailing cable out of the way to avoid tripping yourself or any others nearby.

Hedge trimmer blades can often be cleaned by brushing away any debris, working methodically along the blade so you make sure you don’t miss anything. Remember to check the underside of the teeth as well as the part which is visible to your eye. The space between the blades is often the worst place for build-up.

The brushing down method is particularly good if you do it immediately, so any sticky sap has less chance to set on the blades, and most of the debris should still be loose and easy to remove. By just using a rag or brush to get rid of any build-up, you can avoid getting moisture on the blades and needing to dry them to prevent rust. You can also use a tool to scrape off any more stubborn debris if necessary, but be careful not to slip and hurt yourself.

Clean the Blades With Soap & Water

If some of the residue has hardened, you may find that you need to do a more thorough cleanse. You could start with simple soap and water and a stiff brush to scrub with. In most cases it will usually be effective in getting the blades clean. It is important to remember to get any leftover moisture off them. So, ensure the blades are completely dry to prevent corrosion. Afterwards you should reapply a thorough coat of lubricant once you’ve finished.

If soap and water is not sufficient, some people recommend rubbing the blades down with white spirit. It should dissolve the stickiness of the plant sap. If this isn’t enough, try soaking the blades in white spirit for several hours or even overnight if necessary. Afterwards, wipe any remnants off the blades and ensure they are clean before reapplying lubricant.

Cleaning Blades with Alcohol or Kerosene

Other recommendations include using alcohol or kerosene to rub down the blades. Both of them are strong cleaners which should do the job. Alcohol has the added advantage of providing a disinfectant that will prevent your trimmer carrying any diseases (e.g. fungal infections) between your shrubs. So it may be the way to go if you worry about infection. You could also use diluted bleach to disinfect the blades if necessary. It is important, however, to remember to rinse off strong chemicals before using your trimmer again. Following these steps, you will avoid any damage to your shrubbery.

You could also look into specialist cleaners developed by hedge trimmer manufacturers. Try asking in your local hardware shops to see what they stock, and read your manual to see if they offer any recommendations. These may offer a solution if you are having particular problems with keeping your trimmer blades clean. Some are specifically formulated to combat and loosen sap, may be less harmful to plants, and may be kinder to your skin than things like white spirit and bleach.

Keep in mind

Keeping your trimmer blades clean increases their ability to give you neat cuts, making trimming easier and quicker. Proper maintenance and regular attention increases the life of the trimmer blades, and ensures that you will notice any debris which might be causing the mechanism to jam or slip out of alignment. Always reapply lubricant when you have finished cleaning the blades to protect from rust.