How To Clean Saw Blades in 15 Minutes (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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Frustrated because your saw isn’t cutting as smoothly as it used to? Maybe it’s leaving burn marks on your wood or it just feels like you’re using more force to make those cuts.

This could be a sign that your saw blades are dirty. You see, things like tree sap, old wood bits, and even glue can stick to your blades over time. This gunk makes your blades work harder than they should, which isn’t good for you or your saw.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re going to show you how to clean saw blades properly. We’ll break it down into simple steps so you can easily follow along, no matter what type of saw blade you’re dealing with.

Why Clean Your Saw Blades?

Cleaning your saw blades is an essential part of maintaining their performance and longevity. When saw blades become dirty, whether it’s from wood resin, pitch, or glue build-up, they can lead to various issues. A dirty blade can cause burn marks on your cuts and result in splintered edges, compromising the quality of your work.

By regularly cleaning your saw blades, you can experience several benefits. Firstly, cleaning improves the efficiency of your blades, allowing them to cut through material with ease and precision. not only saves you time but also enhances the overall quality of your woodworking projects.


Secondly, cleaning extends the lifespan of your saw blades. Accumulated debris can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the teeth, leading to faster dulling and the need for frequent blade replacements. By keeping your blades clean, you can prolong their lifespan and save money in the long run.

Furthermore, neglecting to clean your saw blades can have safety implications. Dirt increases friction and puts additional stress on the saw’s motor, potentially leading to overheating or even motor failure. Additionally, a dirty blade is more likely to kick back, causing accidents and injuries.

When Should You Clean Your Saw Blades?

Here are some signs to look for that indicate your saw blade needs cleaning

Decreased Cutting Efficiency: If you notice that your cuts are not as clean as they used to be, with burn marks or splintered edges, it’s a clear sign that your saw blade is dirty and needs cleaning.

Residue Build-Up: Over time, saw blades can accumulate pitch, sap, and glue from your woodworking projects. If you see a sticky or gunky residue on the teeth of your blade, it’s time for a thorough cleaning.

Dull Blade Performance: A dull blade is not only inefficient but also potentially dangerous. If you feel like you’re exerting more force to make cuts or your saw is struggling to cut through material, it could be due to a dirty blade.

Recommended Frequency for Maintenance

To maintain optimal performance and avoid the detrimental effects of a dirty blade, it is recommended to clean your saw blades regularly. The exact frequency may depend on the amount and type of work you do, but a general guideline is to clean your saw blades every 3-6 months or after every intense project.

Also, keep in mind that frequent cleaning may be necessary if you work with materials that are prone to resin or glue buildup, such as plywood.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need for Cleaning Saw Blades

Tools and Materials You'll Need for Cleaning Saw Blades

Here’s a list of items you should have on hand

Cleaning Solutions

You’ll need one of the following

Commercial Saw Blade Cleaner: You can purchase dedicated saw blade cleaning solutions from hardware stores or online. These are specially formulated to effectively remove resin, pitch, and other build-up from the blades. We recommend the ECHO Red Armor Blade Cleaner on Home Depot.

Citrus Degreaser: A common household cleaner, citrus degreaser is versatile and can be used for various cleaning purposes. It’s suitable for cleaning saw blades and can help remove moderate build-up.

Simple Green: This concentrated, all-purpose cleaner is biodegradable, non-toxic, and widely available in grocery, hardware stores, and on Home Depot. Originally designed for industrial cleaning and degreasing, it’s a powerful option for various cleaning needs.

Baking Soda Paste: Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste.

Vinegar and Water Solution: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a shallow container.

Other Cleaning Accessories

Toothbrush: An old toothbrush works well for scrubbing smaller areas on the saw blade, like in between the teeth.

Hard Bristle Brushes: Stiffer brushes, such as brass wire brushes, are effective for tackling tougher build-up on saw blades.

Container or Bucket: You’ll need a container that can comfortably fit the saw blade and hold the cleaning solution for soaking.

Paper Towels or Cloth: These are necessary for drying the blade and wiping away excess cleaning solution.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Saw Blades

These steps apply to circular blades, but they can also be adapted for other types of blades.

Step 1: Safety Precautions

Before starting the cleaning process, it’s important to prioritize personal safety and prevent any damage to the blade or saw. Here are some tips to follow

  • Ensure the saw is powered off and unplugged to prevent accidental startup or injury.
  • Use caution when handling the sharp edges of the blade to avoid cuts or accidents.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes from cleaning solutions.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific saw and blade to ensure proper handling and safety precautions.

Step 2: Removing The Blade

Removing The Blade and preparing it for cleaning.

While the process may vary slightly depending on the type of saw you have, here are general instructions for safely detaching the blade:

For Circular Saws

  • Ensure that the saw is powered off and unplugged for safety.
  • Locate the blade lock button or lever, usually located near the blade guard or handle of the saw.
  • Depress the blade lock button or engage the blade lock lever to hold the blade in place.
  • Use the appropriate sized wrench or tool provided with your circular saw to loosen the arbor nut, which secures the blade.
  • Turn the nut counterclockwise (lefty loosey!) to loosen it, then remove the nut and any washers or spacers from the arbor.
  • Carefully lift the blade out of the saw, holding it by the edges or using a rag or gloves to avoid contact with the teeth.
  • Place the blade on a clean surface, away from any potential hazards, in preparation for cleaning.

Related: Top 10 Best Circular Saw for Beginners (Expert Picks)

For Table Saws

  • Ensure the table saw is turned off and unplugged before working on it.
  • Locate the arbor lock, usually a button or lever near the blade.
  • Press the arbor lock to immobilize the blade.
  • Use the appropriate size wrench to loosen the arbor nut, typically turning it counterclockwise to loosen.
  • Remove the arbor nut and any washers or spacers.
  • Gently slide the blade off the arbor, keeping a firm grip on it to prevent accidental drops.

For other types of saws or specific saw models, consult the manufacturer’s manual or instructions for guidance on safely detaching the blade.


Our guide to the 4 types of table saws for woodworking (+ top recommendations)

see our definitive guide to table saw blades and how to choose the right one for your projects

Our top picks of 14 essential table saw accessories to maximize your saw’s capability

Step 3: Cleaning the Blade

Cleaning the circular saw blade in a cleaning solution

Now that your saw blade is removed safely, it’s time to get it clean and shiny.

Soaking in Cleaning Solution

Prepare a cleaning solution. You could use a commercial saw blade cleaner recommended by the blade manufacturer or any of the cleaning solutions we stated above.

Place the blade in a shallow pan or tray and pour enough cleaning solution over it to completely cover the blade. Let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. This soaking time helps loosen the tough residue.

Scrubbing the Blade

After soaking, take the blade out of the solution and use your brush to scrub it gently. You will notice the residue is much easier to remove now.

Pay special attention to the areas around the teeth and any notches. These spots can harbor more buildup because they often have more contact with the materials you’re cutting.


Rinse the blade thoroughly under running water to wash away all the cleaning solution and loosened debris.

Step 4: Drying and Re-attaching the Blade

Drying and Re-attaching the Blade after cleaning

By ensuring your saw blade is completely dry before reinstallation, you can prevent moisture-related issues such as rust and maintain optimal cutting performance. Follow these best practices for drying and re-attaching the blade

Dry the Blade Thoroughly

Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to carefully wipe down the blade. Pay special attention to the teeth and any other areas that may have residual moisture. Make sure there are no traces of water left on the blade to prevent rust formation.

Air Drying Method

To expedite the drying process, you can leave the blade in a well-ventilated area to air dry naturally. Avoid placing the blade in direct sunlight or near a heat source, as excessive heat or sunlight exposure can potentially damage the blade.

Compressed Air or Fan

If you have access to a can of compressed air or a fan, you can use it to blow air onto the blade to speed up the drying process. Ensure that the air source is clean and free from any debris that could contaminate the blade.

Reattaching the Blade

Once the blade is completely dry, carefully reattach it to your saw, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the blade is properly seated and securely tightened to avoid any accidents or malfunctions.

Step 5: Aftercare and Preventing Rust

Aftercare and Preventing Rust - How to clean saw blades

If you’re not planning to reattach your saw blade to the saw immediately after cleaning, it’s crucial to follow effective aftercare measures. 

Apply a Rust Inhibitor

To provide extra protection against rust, you can apply a rust inhibitor or anti-corrosion spray to the blade’s surface. Be sure to use a product specifically designed for saw blades and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

Proper Storage

Store the saw blade in a dry and well-ventilated area, away from excessive moisture, direct sunlight, or high humidity. Consider using moisture-absorbing packets or silica gel packs in the storage area to help control humidity levels.

Take a look at our top power tool storage systems to keep your workshop organized

Thoroughly Dry the Blade

Before storing the blade or using it again, ensure it is completely dry. Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to remove any remaining moisture. Moisture can lead to rust formation, so it’s important to dry the blade thoroughly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use household cleaners on my saw blades?

Yes. Simple Green, a widely available all-purpose cleaner, is often used by woodworkers for cleaning saw blades. Dilute it with water according to the instructions, or use it directly for tougher build-up. However, avoid using cleaners that are too abrasive or contain harsh chemicals, as they can potentially damage the blade’s finish or teeth.

Why does my circular saw blade burn the wood?

One possibility is that the blade is dull and needs sharpening or replacing. Another potential cause is the accumulation of resin or gum on the teeth of the blade, which can increase friction and generate excess heat. Cleaning the blade can help remove these deposits and improve cutting efficiency.

Can cleaning a saw blade restore its sharpness?


Dull blades typically require sharpening or replacement to regain their sharp cutting edges. However, by removing built-up debris and gunk from the blade, regular cleaning can enhance its overall performance and prevent further deterioration.

Is it necessary to oil my saw blade after cleaning?

While it is not necessary to oil your saw blade after cleaning, applying a thin layer of rust inhibitor or blade lubricant can provide extra protection against corrosion and help maintain the blade’s performance.

What should I do if my saw blade is heavily rusted?

Start by using a rust removal solution or anti-rust spray to dissolve the rust. If the rust damage is extensive, you may need to consider replacing the blade.

Final Thoughts

Remember, taking a bit of time to clean your blades can save you money and trouble down the line, as well as keep you safe while working on your projects. So, make sure to add saw blade cleaning to your regular tool maintenance routine.

Speaking of maintenance check out our beginner’s guide band saw maintenance and blade tensioning

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DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team
DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team

We’re a small team of skilled woodworkers and engineers with a combined experience of over 15 years using power tools for woodworking. We have been creating power tool tutorials since 2020. Our aim is to become the largest free woodworking power tool resource website in the industry.

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