Tool disinfection

How often do you disinfect your tools


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Azores
#1
Considering that we are messing around with our plants, cutting here, pruning there... I'm curious about how many of us actually disinfect tools after use, how often and with what...
 
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Azores
#2
So myself, I try to disinfect every time I use a tool. ok, not EVERY time, but most times...

And I use a regular kitchen paper towel moisten in bleach to clean the tools.
 
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Vancouver Island, British Columbia
USDA Zone
8b
#5
Between each tree when working on healthy stock. I use rubbing alcohol in small spray bottle, wipe dry. Use the same product on larger cuts and carving before applying sealant or cut paste if applicable. Let the alcohol spray dry to the air before applying the sealant or cut paste. ( yup i know it can damage a few cells, but that is better than a diseased tree)
If any disease is present and the tool is used on the tree then between cuts even on the same tree and on the cuts themselves.
At the end of day or work session, same routine except apply thin coat of mineral oil before storage. I live in a humid climate.
And for when i forget, i use Emory cloth and mineral oil to remove tarnish or rust spots. Disinfectant gel such as purelle to remove pine sap from tools and hands. Soft brass wire brush in the drill press to burnish off the stubborn areas and refurbish used high carbon steel tools.
Gradually switching over to STAINLESS STEEL.
 
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Location
NC Zone 7
#6
I also have a spray bottle with alcohol. I clean the tool when taken out of storage and in between trees. I have steel and stainless steel tools, I use the same practice on both.
 
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452
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
USDA Zone
7B
#7
I dip mine in alcohol, usually by pouring a little alcohol in my palm and thoroughly dousing the tool. I do that between trees when I'm doing any substantive work. But I wasn't doing things that carefully two years ago when all my maples turned black and died. I learned the hard way.
I'm still careless when I'm just pinching/clipping growing tips, but that's almost every time I look at a tree this time of year.
 
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Vancouver Island, British Columbia
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8b
#8
I dip mine in alcohol, usually by pouring a little alcohol in my palm and thoroughly dousing the tool. I do that between trees when I'm doing any substantive work. But I wasn't doing things that carefully two years ago when all my maples turned black and died. I learned the hard way.
I'm still careless when I'm just pinching/clipping growing tips, but that's almost every time I look at a tree this time of year.
Sorry to hear about your maples.
Whenever i start to slack off, i think of nurseries i have seen that have Maple, Hornbeam, JBP, Juniper with continuous issues throughout. And Bonsai hobbyists who have developed carving styles to camouflage the resulting decay.
 

0soyoung

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Anacortes, WA
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#9
I usually dampen a paper towel with alcohol (70% isopropyl) and wipe my cutting tool before and after use on each plant.
Sanitary wipes are a convenient 'substitute'. In some ways simpler to carry around.
 
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Netherlands
#10
If I would work on sick trees, which I don't, I would use the pressure cooker for sterilisation. 20 mins at full pressure.
Alcohol and bleach usually don't kill virusses and spores. Bleach does, but it also damages your metal tools.
Heat is the way to go, but flames dull every sharp piece of metal over time. Pressure cooker is my autoclave!
 
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Location
Dallas, Texas
USDA Zone
8a
#11
I usually forget to clean them after use because I'm putting away everything else. However I do try to wipe them down with alcohol and a paper towel every time I take them out again before using them.
 
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NE Ohio: zone 5b (USA)
USDA Zone
5b
#13
Definitely between each healthy tree. If a tree with an issue,then after each cut.

I have done this for so long its habit. Something I started after having gall in my landscape on a shrub. Upon direction from landscape company...I spray tool with lysol and wipe clean and dry with paper towel.

It is a good rule of thumb to clean between trees...you never know what later you contained by such habits.
 
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Location
Netherlands
#14
I asked some of the phytopathologists i work with about how much sense it makes to do a quick wipe.
None. None at all. Ethanol and isopropanol kill by elongated contact (is that a correct sentence?) Anyhow, for those to effectively kill, you'd need 15 mins of contact. A wipe evaporates way faster.

I do plant tissue culture clean ups on a weekly basis.
Here are some company secrets:
- Ethanol is effective in the 70-80% range. Any higher or lower % contains either too much or too little water. Targets: fungi, bacteria.
Time: at least 15 minutes of thorough/submerged soaking for tools.

- Chlorine bleach (5%) solution with detergent (tween or dishwashing soap) is pretty effective on everything. Plants will die after long exposure. It will damage metals.
Time: 5-50 minutes for tools.

- Peroxide (3%) effective for fungi and yeasts.
Time of submerging is around 5-15 mins. Does damage every metal, can soften wood.

- Freezing: doesn't work.

- Organic solvents (ether, hexane, butanol): pretty effective, pretty dangerous to work with.

Boiling water: 10-60 minutes. I found soil microbes that survived 90 minutes of boiling water. Those were beneficial. But if they werent.. Well, you could imagine ;-)

Dry heat: 300 degrees C, or the highest setting on your oven. Works pretty darn well! Melts plastics of course.

Pressure cooker: 15 mins per.. ehmm.. per 4 tools. 15 minutes is the minimum, 45-90 is best, more is a waste of energy.
 
Messages
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202
Location
Western NC
USDA Zone
7a
#15
Sounds like what most folks have been donig is just for our own peace of mind. 15 mins with 70% isopropy blows away what my wife (the Master Gardener) has been telling me. I guess you really only need to do that to cutting tools and not chopsticks, etc? So really what other tools are critical for treatment?
 

wireme

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#16
I asked some of the phytopathologists i work with about how much sense it makes to do a quick wipe.
None. None at all. Ethanol and isopropanol kill by elongated contact (is that a correct sentence?) Anyhow, for those to effectively kill, you'd need 15 mins of contact. A wipe evaporates way faster.

I do plant tissue culture clean ups on a weekly basis.
Here are some company secrets:
- Ethanol is effective in the 70-80% range. Any higher or lower % contains either too much or too little water. Targets: fungi, bacteria.
Time: at least 15 minutes of thorough/submerged soaking for tools.

- Chlorine bleach (5%) solution with detergent (tween or dishwashing soap) is pretty effective on everything. Plants will die after long exposure. It will damage metals.
Time: 5-50 minutes for tools.

- Peroxide (3%) effective for fungi and yeasts.
Time of submerging is around 5-15 mins. Does damage every metal, can soften wood.

- Freezing: doesn't work.

- Organic solvents (ether, hexane, butanol): pretty effective, pretty dangerous to work with.

Boiling water: 10-60 minutes. I found soil microbes that survived 90 minutes of boiling water. Those were beneficial. But if they werent.. Well, you could imagine ;-)

Dry heat: 300 degrees C, or the highest setting on your oven. Works pretty darn well! Melts plastics of course.

Pressure cooker: 15 mins per.. ehmm.. per 4 tools. 15 minutes is the minimum, 45-90 is best, more is a waste of energy.
Nice.
I do sterile lab work daily too, fungal cultures. Yeah, I would never consider touching one of my cultures with a tool that was just sprayed. I PC or flame sterilized them. Ate through a few things with bleach before I knew how corrosive it is to metal. I still just do a 70 percent iso rub on tools though, hoping that it will do some good but knowing very well it’s not sterilization. I do the same with my gloves while working in the laminar flow hood. Lots of spraying and very vigorous rubbing. 17BD7118-9F76-42F9-84FC-AA672F7A7A6C.jpeg
 
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351
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Location
Netherlands
#17
Offtopic:
You store petri's in ziplocks? I use cut-to-size cling wrap rolls for my fungi. It seems to hold longer than parafilm and I have some cultures over 2 years old still thriving without ever having opened the dish. I'm guessing there's good aeration, but not enough to let moisture escape fast enough to dry it out in the course of 2 years. At home I replaced agar with cardboard, I found it a lot easier to work with compared to agar. It's harder to select hetero-/homokaryons though, but for maintenance it's awesome stuff! And dirt cheap, easy to sterilize, easy to cut to size, easy to store, it has a higher surface area due to it being curved/waved.. If only I knew that back in the days..
As for flowhoods, hands are washed when entering the room, I clean my hands with 80% Etoh when they go in, but that's it. No gloves and no sleeves (because we're convinced that sleeves shed dust particles, and gloves don't have skin grease that captures micro-organisms, especially in the joint areas. I used to disagree with that practice, until after a year or so of doing it like this. We're dealing with a <0.25% infection rate in plant media (handling about 2000-4000 containers per week), so that's actually pretty low all things considered. Especially considering costs. Back in another lab, I used 200 sets of nitrile gloves a week, AND all the alcohol we could find (that's 40 bucks worth of material). Results were worse, infection rates were around 1-3%.


Back on topic:
I think it's all about ease of mind. I mean, working on sick trees is a no-go to begin with. You'll be damaging wood and structures that the plant is actively either trying to support/strengthen, or structures that it's trying to kill to get rid of the infection (apoptosis?).
If your tools are clean, but your cutting paste isn't, then what the hell does it matter?
If your trees are outside for longer than a millisecond, they'll be covered in spores no matter what.
If your trees are indoors for longer than a millisecond, they'll be covered in spores no matter what.
The air is full of it, the tree is full of it, and most micro-organisms living on trees are actually supportive and protective towards their host. One of the prime examples of why honey can be (note CAN!) beneficial. It doesn't only supply the tree with nutrients, it also helps the micro-organisms in protecting the wound.. At least from a distance; high loads of sugars are deadly for every life form with one exception, the tardigrade.

In a way, not cleaning your tools could be as beneficial as cleaning them; there's leftover tree sap from which water evaporates which causes concentrations of solutes to rise, there's natural antibiotics in it, cutting in dense wood creates so much friction that even bacteria can be pushed out of crevasses in the metal. It's a discussion where nobody is wrong or right, unless they're working on sick/infected trees. Ok, and unless they're keeping their tools in a compost bin or a watering hole. Then they should definitely sterilize. Not disinfect, but sterilize. Disinfection is superficial (like a 'clean sink' in a bar), sterilization is thorough (like a sink in a bath of lava, covered in acid, surrounded by sulfur fumes: nothing survives).

Fungal and bacterial outbreaks usually don't come from the tools alone, they come from poor maintenance, poor plant vitality, bad aeration, impatience and in 90% of all cases: over watering. I've done it all, I keep doing it, and it'll take another 10 years for me to finally stop doing it. But I gave up fighting battles. I made it sick, I killed it, I take the responsibility. Sometimes, there's just nothing to save anymore and we should acknowledge that. It hurts like hell, it does a nasty piledriver on our ego, but it's a learning point nonetheless. Those are priceless. I'm a hard learner like that. The best antibiotic is a healthy tree, it disinfects itself when necessary.

Fungi and bacteria (and archea, and yeasts) need to meet a pretty extensive list of demands to thrive. The "core dry nutrition" is the tree, but all the rest needs to be provided in some way.
In general: Just try to grow some wood loving fungi species yourself, you'll see that it's actually pretty hard to get a good thriving non-store-bought culture of Reishi (g. Lucidum) or Shiitake, without having to deal with Trichoderma (generally a plant protecting fungal family).
 
Messages
171
Likes
153
Location
Dallas, Texas
USDA Zone
8a
#18
I asked some of the phytopathologists i work with about how much sense it makes to do a quick wipe.
None. None at all. Ethanol and isopropanol kill by elongated contact (is that a correct sentence?) Anyhow, for those to effectively kill, you'd need 15 mins of contact. A wipe evaporates way faster.

I do plant tissue culture clean ups on a weekly basis.
Here are some company secrets:
- Ethanol is effective in the 70-80% range. Any higher or lower % contains either too much or too little water. Targets: fungi, bacteria.
Time: at least 15 minutes of thorough/submerged soaking for tools.

- Chlorine bleach (5%) solution with detergent (tween or dishwashing soap) is pretty effective on everything. Plants will die after long exposure. It will damage metals.
Time: 5-50 minutes for tools.

- Peroxide (3%) effective for fungi and yeasts.
Time of submerging is around 5-15 mins. Does damage every metal, can soften wood.

- Freezing: doesn't work.

- Organic solvents (ether, hexane, butanol): pretty effective, pretty dangerous to work with.

Boiling water: 10-60 minutes. I found soil microbes that survived 90 minutes of boiling water. Those were beneficial. But if they werent.. Well, you could imagine ;-)

Dry heat: 300 degrees C, or the highest setting on your oven. Works pretty darn well! Melts plastics of course.

Pressure cooker: 15 mins per.. ehmm.. per 4 tools. 15 minutes is the minimum, 45-90 is best, more is a waste of energy.
So would soaking the blades in a cup of alcohol for 15 minutes work?
 

wireme

Masterpiece
Messages
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Kootenays, British Columbia
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3
#20
Offtopic:
You store petri's in ziplocks? I use cut-to-size cling wrap rolls for my fungi. It seems to hold longer than parafilm and I have some cultures over 2 years old still thriving without ever having opened the dish. I'm guessing there's good aeration, but not enough to let moisture escape fast enough to dry it out in the course of 2 years. At home I replaced agar with cardboard, I found it a lot easier to work with compared to agar. It's harder to select hetero-/homokaryons though, but for maintenance it's awesome stuff! And dirt cheap, easy to sterilize, easy to cut to size, easy to store, it has a higher surface area due to it being curved/waved.. If only I knew that back in the days..
As for flowhoods, hands are washed when entering the room, I clean my hands with 80% Etoh when they go in, but that's it. No gloves and no sleeves (because we're convinced that sleeves shed dust particles, and gloves don't have skin grease that captures micro-organisms, especially in the joint areas. I used to disagree with that practice, until after a year or so of doing it like this. We're dealing with a <0.25% infection rate in plant media (handling about 2000-4000 containers per week), so that's actually pretty low all things considered. Especially considering costs. Back in another lab, I used 200 sets of nitrile gloves a week, AND all the alcohol we could find (that's 40 bucks worth of material). Results were worse, infection rates were around 1-3%.


Back on topic:
I think it's all about ease of mind. I mean, working on sick trees is a no-go to begin with. You'll be damaging wood and structures that the plant is actively either trying to support/strengthen, or structures that it's trying to kill to get rid of the infection (apoptosis?).
If your tools are clean, but your cutting paste isn't, then what the hell does it matter?
If your trees are outside for longer than a millisecond, they'll be covered in spores no matter what.
If your trees are indoors for longer than a millisecond, they'll be covered in spores no matter what.
The air is full of it, the tree is full of it, and most micro-organisms living on trees are actually supportive and protective towards their host. One of the prime examples of why honey can be (note CAN!) beneficial. It doesn't only supply the tree with nutrients, it also helps the micro-organisms in protecting the wound.. At least from a distance; high loads of sugars are deadly for every life form with one exception, the tardigrade.

In a way, not cleaning your tools could be as beneficial as cleaning them; there's leftover tree sap from which water evaporates which causes concentrations of solutes to rise, there's natural antibiotics in it, cutting in dense wood creates so much friction that even bacteria can be pushed out of crevasses in the metal. It's a discussion where nobody is wrong or right, unless they're working on sick/infected trees. Ok, and unless they're keeping their tools in a compost bin or a watering hole. Then they should definitely sterilize. Not disinfect, but sterilize. Disinfection is superficial (like a 'clean sink' in a bar), sterilization is thorough (like a sink in a bath of lava, covered in acid, surrounded by sulfur fumes: nothing survives).

Fungal and bacterial outbreaks usually don't come from the tools alone, they come from poor maintenance, poor plant vitality, bad aeration, impatience and in 90% of all cases: over watering. I've done it all, I keep doing it, and it'll take another 10 years for me to finally stop doing it. But I gave up fighting battles. I made it sick, I killed it, I take the responsibility. Sometimes, there's just nothing to save anymore and we should acknowledge that. It hurts like hell, it does a nasty piledriver on our ego, but it's a learning point nonetheless. Those are priceless. I'm a hard learner like that. The best antibiotic is a healthy tree, it disinfects itself when necessary.

Fungi and bacteria (and archea, and yeasts) need to meet a pretty extensive list of demands to thrive. The "core dry nutrition" is the tree, but all the rest needs to be provided in some way.
In general: Just try to grow some wood loving fungi species yourself, you'll see that it's actually pretty hard to get a good thriving non-store-bought culture of Reishi (g. Lucidum) or Shiitake, without having to deal with Trichoderma (generally a plant protecting fungal family).
Good stuff thanks.

Yep, ziplocks. I used to use the same cling wrap like you use plus a ziplock as I don’t have a good clean space for storage. About 1 1/2 years ago I stopped with the wrap, one less step and less handling, working well for me I just revived a couple year old dishes (shiitake, reishi) that weren’t even refrigerated and they are running well. I’ve always worked sleeveless but, no gloves? Alright I’ll try. Maybe I’ll try cardboard too, I mix and pour my own agar, it’s alright but I’m always willing to experiment.
I like the way you think re: the back to topic stuff, glad to see you posting. In the past I’ve tried bringing up some odd ideas regarding protective effects of foliar endophytes/epiphytes and some other similar oddball ideas without much response, maybe I’ll try again someday now that you’re around. I’m not that knowledgeable about that stuff but interested.