Are Tree Trimming Tools Ever Disinfected?

Published on

Professional tree trimmers are usually in high demand. A bad storm can send them from house to house in a given neighborhood and throughout the town when disease strikes. But what if the tree service company arrives at your house straight from another property that was dealing with a case of bacterial blight? Is there a chance of cross contamination? Do they ever disinfect their tree cutting equipment?

How Professional Tree Trimmers Prevent Spreading Disease

The short answer is yes. Just as a doctor disinfects his or her surgical instruments before every use, professionals at a tree service company must carefully clean their tree trimming tools between each job (and often between each tree). Shears, pruning tools and other tree cutting equipment can spread disease from one tree to another and to plants if not properly disinfected. So… what exactly do they do to prevent this?

Tips to Disinfect Tree Trimming Tools

  • Deal with loose dirt first. Tools should be brushed clear of dirt and debris before cleaning. This will allow the disinfecting solution to effectively reach every cutting surface.
  • Disinfect next. There are plenty of options for disinfecting tree cutting equipment and tools, including:
    • Denatured ethanol (95 percent): 50 percent solution (1 part alcohol with 1 part water)
    • Household bleach (ex: Clorox): 25% solution (1 part bleach with 3 parts water)
    • Household disinfectants (Lysol, etc.): Full strength
    • Pine oil cleaner (ex. Pine-Sol): 25 percent solution (1-part cleaner with 3 parts water)
    • Quaternary ammonium salts: Used as directed on label
    • Rubbing alcohol (70 percent isopropyl): 50 percent solution (1 part alcohol with 1 part water)
    • Trisodium phosphate (Na3PO4): 10 percent solution (1 part Na3PO4 with 9 parts water)
    • Environmentally friendly options include Physan 20, a broad-spectrum fungicide and disinfectant. (note, this product is toxic to fish, and shouldn’t be used near ponds.)
  • Clean often. The best way to avoid the spread of disease when working with tree cutting equipment is to disinfect between cuts on known infections, between trees when handling disease-prone species and between job sites as standard practice.
  • Never arrive without it. Disinfectant solutions can be carried to a property in a tightly sealed plastic bottle, wide enough so the smaller tools can be dipped directly into it. Blades and elements of the larger tree trimming tools can be hand-wiped. All tools should then be rinsed with clean water before pruning, cutting or trimming, and then be air dried.
  • Mind the details. A professional tree service company knows that equipment must be regularly disinfected to be stay in top condition. Older blades become pitted, potentially harboring microbes that are unaffected by quick sterilization. This is especially true in cases of the bacteria associated with active cankers.
  • Don’t disinfect wounds. Cleaning products and disinfectants should never be applied to tree wounds because they can cause further injury and prevent callus tissue from forming, slowing the healing process.

Your trees are an integral part of your property’s beauty and value. Don’t sabotage them by risking the use of dirty, infected equipment. Your best bet is to leave your tree needs to professional tree trimmers. A tree service company will always have the health of your trees top of mind.