Squeaky Clean and Bleach Free

A gardenerd recently wrote in:

“I don’t live in California to attend your classes, however, I am interested in a bleach-free cleaner for garden tools, clay pots, bird baths and suet feeders.”

Ah – good question – thanks so much for asking.  We talk a little bit about cleaning clay pots and such in the Small Space and Container Gardening class, and while a 1-to-10 part solution of bleach is recommended on many websites that I’ve researched for cleaning clay pots, you can also use a similar ratio of vinegar and water to clean as well.  The key ingredient in cleaning clay pots isn’t what you might think.  Not bleach or vinegar, but a wire brush.  All the sites I searched seemed to think it was essential.  Scrub, scrub, scrub – even with just water, some say – and you’ll be good to go, but if your pots have evidence of hard water or fungus or mildew on them, definitely put something in that water.

As far as cleaning tools, a popular recommendation that rose-pruning enthusiasts suggest is cleaning your pruners with rubbing alcohol to disinfect them.  I also use a hand block, which is basically a medium course Sandflex Sanding Block that is used to remove sap and soil build up.  They I apply a generous coating of oil, which can be specific to tools or as general as WD-40.

Bird baths and suet feeders can be tough to clean, especially with all that animal fat all over the feeder from the suet cakes.  Amazon has this Bird Feeder Cleaner that says it’s not harmful to animals and other pets.  The Audubon Workshop suggests a soy based formula that is also safe for the environment.

Duncraft, a trusted resource on Gardenerd.com, also has a safe Bird Bath and Statuary Cleaner.

Give those a try and let us know your results.   Keep those questions coming!

Anyone else have a great tip for keeping your tools clean, or tidying up your bird bath?  Post it here to share.

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