How To Keep Tools In Perfect Condition

Having a decent tool box or tool bag is not just about the amount of hardware you have but also the condition of your tools. A well-maintained tool collection means you are always ‘good to go,’ and ensures that you’ll make a good job of any home improvement or DIY project.

Buying those shiny new tools is one thing – keeping your investment that way is a whole new ball game. But with some time, effort and a little thought you can keep your toolkit looking and performing like new, meaning you save time, money and effort in the long run.

Here are our top tips for keeping your tools in perfect condition.

tools on a wooden table

1. Store Them Properly

Good tools are not cheap, so to make sure you get many years out of your investment, you need to ensure you can store your tool kit properly. Depending on the scale of your tool collection, you don’t necessarily need masses of garage or workshop space, but you do need to stick to the essentials – somewhere dry, secure and out of the elements.

Look at the space you have and make it work for you – buy yourself a couple of well-made tool storage boxes (or even re-purpose an old chest of drawers) as well as a peg board for the wall and you’ve got off to a good start. For the tools you use frequently, a peg board where you can hang them is a great way to go, and it means you have all the essential tools immediately to hand. For DIY jobs where you need to take your tools, then a good tool box that is secure, dry and lockable works well.

And, wherever you store your tools and tool box, always make sure the environment is not only dry but also protected from the elements, including extremes of temperatures.

2. Avoid The Dreaded Rust

When it comes to the shelf-life of your tools, rust is your nemesis and should be avoided at all costs. The first step to keeping your tools rust free is to ensure they are dry and clean before you store them away, and never store them in damp spaces. If your garage or basement tends to get damp, invest in a humidifier to keep things cool and dry. Hang up your tools if you can – at the very least never leave them for prolonged periods of time resting on the floor, as moisture can seep from the ground. And another good tip for tools in storage boxes – add in a few silica gel packs to help suck up and keep any moisture at bay.

assorted tools

3. Clean Your Tools After Each Use

It may feel like the last thing you want to do after a long DIY session but to keep your tools in perfect condition, you need to clean them after every use. We’re not talking a complicated deep clean here, but a few minutes spent on the task will save you in the long-run.  Tools can be simply wiped down with a rag or cloth, spritzed with a little WD-40. Soap and water can be used if they are particularly grubby, just make sure you thoroughly dry them before stashing them away. For garden hand tools that are caked in mud, a good tip is to insert them in a bucket of sand, mixed with a bit of linseed oil and move them up and down, so the sand rubs off the grime.

Once you have cleaned your tools, you also don’t want to then store them in a grubby tool box, so regularly wipe down your tool storage containers, with a real deep clean once in a while to keep your tool collection squeaky clean.

4. Keep Them Well Lubricated

Lubrication will not only help to keep rust at bay but will keep tools with moving parts slick and working well. Parts that move or rub together can get damaged over time if they are not regularly and sufficiently lubricated so make sure you make the time to get the lube out.

Common machine oil or WD-40 are good options that are easy to obtain and store, although it is always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s manual to see if a specific lubricant should be used. And wipe any blades with a little mineral oil to keep dust and dirt at bay.

tools on a table

5. Inspect Regularly For Wear And Tear

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to keeping your tool kit in tip-top condition, so it’s always a good idea to give your kit the quick once over for any signs of wear and tear before and after you use them.

When checking your tools, make sure you check for any cracked, splintered or lose handles and sand or replace as needed. On chisels, screwdrivers and similar tools, look out for a misshapen ‘mushroomed’ head that can happen when the tool’s striking edge is under heavy use and always keep an eye out for the early signs of corrosion or rust. When it comes to power tools, like cordless drills, pay careful attention to the housing, in case there are any cracks or splits. Also, look for frayed or exposed wires or cables, as well as take note if the tool is not starting up as well as it should.

6. Repair Them When They Need It – Don’t Wait

If you do find any wear on your tools, don’t leave it but make your next task a good repair job. The longer you leave the damage, or ignore that funny noise from a power tool, the worse it’s going to get, and that could be a costly mistake. And that’s before you take the safety factor into consideration. Minor scrapes or damage – a cracked wooden handle for example – can quickly be fixed as a do-it-yourself job but for more complex tool kit failures, especially in a power tool, if you are not confident in your own fixing skills, we suggest you get it looked at by a professional. And don’t forget to check the terms of the warranty as you may find the repair bill just may still be covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee.

different tools

7. Keep Those Batteries In Shape

And finally, when it comes to starting a big project the last thing you want to do is take your eye off the power tool ball and run out of juice. If you rely on the convenience of cordless or battery-powered tools, then it is essential as part of your regular tool kit care strategy, you ensure all the batteries are charged and well-maintained.

Batteries stay in peak performance for longer if they are fully charged and then fully discharged every couple of weeks. It is also important to keep the internal battery housing on your power tool clean – you can clean the contacts with cotton swabs and a little alcohol. And if you don’t expect to be using your cordless power tools for a while, remove the batteries and store them in a cool and dry place, so they will be power ready for your next major home improvement project.


  1. Tips For Storing Your Tools Through The Winter – The Spruce