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How to Clean Your Power Tools

How to clean power tools
As a DIY’r, my power tools are a huge investment and a big part of what I do every day.  In order to prolong their life and keep them in good working condition, it is important to keep them clean and maintained on a regular basis.   Power tools, especially ones specifically designed to work with wood, tend to get filthy.  Sawdust and fine grit builds up easily.  This build up can get into joints and moving parts and hurt your tool performance.  To avoid this potentional costly damage, I wanted to share some tips with you on how to quickly give you power tools a quick clean up.

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I would recommend cleaning your tools relatively frequently, and especially if you are planning on putting your tool up for a long period of time. Storing a clean power tool is much better for it than storing it dirty.   I do a quick cleaning between every project, and I clean my tools thoroughly every few months, or when I notice the build up is getting really bad.  Starting a fresh project with clean power tools is a great feeling!

When cleaning your tools you want to make sure they are UNPLUGGED. You also want to be aware of any sharp areas (such as blades and bits) so you are sure to use caution around those areas.

Please note: This post is about SURFACE cleaning your tools. Some tools can be disassembled in order to perform a more thorough cleaning.  Because those procedures are different for every type and band of tool, that is beyond the scope of this tutorial.  You want to check your tools’ owners manuals to make sure any additional cleaning is recommended.

Air compressor or blower
Cleaner & Degreaser (I use Spray Nine Heavy Duty Cleaner: Take the Spray Nine Challenge.)
Cotton Rags
Small brush (I use an old toothbrush)

The first thing I always do when cleaning my tools is give them a quick vacuum using my shop-vac.  (Wear a mask for this step!)  This removes all the large debris and sawdust.  For smaller cracks and crevices I use my air compressor to blast the dust out.  Getting dust out of a tool's air intake will actually help it run better and keep it from overheating.

Vacuuming sawdust
Vacuuming won’t get rid of all the fine dust or greasy areas of your tools.  For that you need a high quality heavy duty cleaner and degreaser.  I recommend Spray Nine Heavy Duty Cleaner.    You want a cleaner that is intended for all surfaces and that has degreasing power.  One that will cut though grime.
Using degreaser to clean power tools
A good degreaser will allow you to easily wipe down the dirty surfaces of you tools.  To get into cracks and crevices I use a small toothbrush in conjunction with the Spray Nine Heavy Duty cleaner. Cleaning a miter saw
Handheld tools also tend to get really dirty.  My drill is a great example.  The build up around the air intakes and the speed button was actually making the drill difficult to use.  After cleaning, the button slides a lot more smoothly.
Cleaning a drill
Additionally, anywhere you touch your tool over and over (the handles or grips or knobs) will build up a greasy residue over time.  Spray Nine Heavy Duty Cleaner can cut right though, and even disinfects! How to clean a drill
Having clean grips and handles can also improve workshop safety, with less chance of the tool slipping out of your hands.
Cleaning random orbit sander
Your tools dust traps and filters are one of the most important ways your tools keep themselves clean.  If you don’t clean them out regularly, they can’t do their job.  Don’t forget to empty any sawdust or dust traps and vacuum them out.
Sawdust trap on miter saw
Obstructed and clogged traps can cause jamming or tool overheating.
Cleaning out dust traps power tools
Regular cleaning of your power tools will make for a much more enjoyable experience in your workshop, and prolong the life and functionality of your tools.  Cleaning power tools
See what Spray Nine Heavy Duty can do for you.  Your tools will thank you!
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