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How to Sharpen, Clean, and Care for Your Scissors

A good quality pair can serve you well for years.

all metal scissors
Photography by: Peter Ardito



Most scissors simply need to be wiped with a soft cloth after use to remove any dust and grit that accumulate on and between the blades. Kitchen shears, however, should always be washed and dried thoroughly, particularly after being used on food. Bill Tate, of Bill's Sharpening Service in Port Orchard, Washington, recommends using paint thinner (in a well-ventilated area) to remove any sticky residue or other stubborn dirt from the blades of scissors used for crafts or gardening. If they're rusty (from age or water contact), wipe the blades with a cotton ball soaked in white vinegar. Remember to apply a little household oil with a soft cloth to the screw area every few months. This keeps the blades moving smoothly and without friction. Rub all the excess oil off before using the scissors again.




When you have to work hard to make scissors cut, it's time to have them sharpened. If you're not certain whether they're ready for sharpening, try this test: Slowly and gently close the scissors on a piece of thin, silky fabric; if the fabric folds on the sides of the blades instead of being cut, the scissors are dull. Unscrew and separate the blades if you can, then sharpen each side with a stone and honing oil. Rejoin them and lubricate the screw with oil to keep the scissors cutting smoothly.


[LEARN ABOUT MORE: Essential Craft Tools]



If you have to rummage through a crowded drawer each time you need a pair of scissors, you're keeping them in the wrong place. All that banging can scratch them, nick the blades, break the tips, or knock them out of alignment. The best thing to do is keep them in something. Many pairs of scissors come in a plastic sheath, pouch, or gift box; if so, don't throw it away. Use it to store the scissors — and to protect them.


Divide & Conquer


Use specialty pairs for their intended jobs: fabric shears for sewing, paper scissors for wrapping and crafts. This will keep all the blades sharp longer.


Looking for more tips and tricks? Watch how to assemble a mason jar sewing kit: