This surprising gardener's trick for storing backyard tools is a foolproof way to avoid rusting – it's genius!

Rusted tools are a gardener's nightmare, but this clever trick promises to keep them fresher for longer

A close up of some rusted garden tools next to some gardening gloves and a pot of soil
(Image credit: Getty)

Be honest, what sort of state are your gardening tools in right now? Rusted forks, trowels, and pruning shears are a reality for many of us, and they can be more detrimental to your gardening than you might think. The good news is, it's almost always preventable, and this nifty gardener's trick might be the solution you need. 

In the majority of cases, we only have ourselves to blame for our rusted tools. True, corrosion will inevitably happen over time, but nearly all of us are guilty of leaving our gardening gadgets out overnight where they're exposed to the elements, accelerating the process. 

To keep your tools looking their best and lasting as long as possible, you'll want to consider incorporating this storage hack into your modern garden. The 5-minute trick promises to keep blades fresh, and it only requires three simple components you probably have lurking in your shed. Intrigued? Here's how it's done. 

A selection of hand-held gardening tools on a work bench next to some potted flowers

(Image credit: Getty)

There really is nothing worse than trying to trim your backyard hedge with a blunt pair of pruning shears. The same goes for harvesting your root vegetables with a rusted trowel. No matter how determined you are, your job is going to be far more difficult than it needs to be if you're not working with clean, sharp tools. 

Ask any gardener and they'll tell you, the simple trick is to store your tools properly, particularly over long durations like the winter months. Hanging them up in your shed or garage might seem like the obvious choice, and while this certainly isn't a bad idea, these still tend to be humid spaces so your tools will still be at a higher risk of premature rusting. 

So, how should you store your tools in a way that keeps them clean, dry, and as sharp as the day you bought them? Well, according to this viral TikTok hack, a bucket of sand and some multi-purpose oil is all you need. 


♬ original sound - Epic Gardening

In the video, Kevin of Epic Gardening swears by the decades-old trick. He claims that burying the metal end of tools in a bucket of sand helps preserve them, the coarse grit working to remove dirt and surface rust and keeping water away from your equipment. All that's needed is some standard builder's sand, a bucket, and some multipurpose oil. 

'Dump the sand into the bucket adding oil every few inches and then mix it all up,' Kevin instructs on his Instagram post. 'Then, every time you're done using your tools, add them to your oily sand bucket.' He uses 3-IN-ONE®'s Multi-Purpose Oil for the job.

Gardening tool sharpener, Amazon
Editor's choice

Gardening tool sharpener, Amazon

This compact tool sharpener is perfect for keeping your blades in check. A few swipes on either side of your pruning shears will keep them clean and sharp so that your gardening tasks are simple. To keep rust at bay, you can even store the blade in your sand bucket too.

It's worth pointing out, though, that this trick isn't going to magically turn back the clock after years of neglect. If your tools are already looking worse for wear, you'll want to take matters further.

Luckily, Kevin also has a method for restoring rusted tools. He suggests rubbing them with the same multipurpose oil you used in the sand mixture, then giving them a scrub with a rust eraser block like this one from Amazon. He follows this with a couple of strokes with a sharpener before applying the same oil again to wipe away any residue. This helps to protect the metal from corrosion and will work to lubricate mechanisms in tools such as shears. 

So they stay in tip-top condition and to keep future rust at bay, all you need to do is store those fresh tools in the oiled bucket of sand. Keep all your tools clean, contained, and free from corrosion with these three cheap components and they'll pay you back with plenty more years of use. 

What you'll need... 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.