If you are a sheep farmer you know that sheep need to have their wool trimmed for their health and well-being. The main tool that is used are sheep shears. A good trim depends on more than just how skilled the shearer is; it also depends on how well the shears are kept. 

Clean shears are essential for a smooth and efficient shearing process.  The cleanliness of the blades has a direct impact on the welfare of the sheep as well as the quality of the fleece. Dirt, wool grease, and debris on the blades can cause uneven shearing, causing discomfort to the animal. Also, filthy blades may require more force, leading to an increased risk of injury to both the sheep and the shearer.

Dirty blades can slow down the shearing process and produce an uneven finish. Wool impurities can build up on the blades and cause friction and overheating, reducing the lifespan of the blades and requiring regular sharpening.

This article will lead you through the steps of effectively cleaning sheep shear blades. We'll go over the tools and materials you'll need, as well as safety considerations and a step-by-step cleaning procedure. Other important topics that will be covered include how to keep the blades sharp, how to troubleshoot common problems, and how to extend the life of your shears. 

The Essentials for Cleaning Sheep Shear Blades

Having the proper tools and materials are necessary for the efficient cleaning of sheep shear blades. Using the appropriate equipment ensures that the cleaning process will be thorough, efficient, and safe for both the shears and the shearer.

Importance of Using the Right Cleaning Tools 

Using the right cleaning tools is not just a matter of convenience; doing so is essential to maintaining the durability and effectiveness of your shears.

  • First and foremost, it significantly accelerates the process. Eliminating wool, grease, or dirt from shears becomes much more efficient, requiring far less effort. Over time, this efficiency can make a substantial difference.
  • Using the proper tools helps to avoid potential shear damage. The wrong tools can result in expensive repairs or possibly require replacements. Just imagine using a cleaning liquid not meant for shears. This could damage the blades, meaning you'll have to replace them sooner. That would cost time and money! 
  • The right tools and safety equipment ensure that you can clean the shears safely, reducing the risk of injury during maintenance.
  • Clean blades not only result in a higher-quality shearing job but also a smoother finish and, most significantly, less discomfort for the sheep, making it a win-win situation for both the shearer and the animals.

Table 1. Tools and Materials Required For Cleaning Sheep Shear Blades



Cleaning Brushes

Small brushes with stiff bristles are ideal for removing wool and debris from the blades.

Cleaning Solvents

A gentle cleaning solvent, such as a blade wash or specialized shears cleaner, is necessary for dissolving wool grease and dirt.


A suitable lubricant, like shears oil or spray, is necessary for maintaining the blades' smooth operation. Cover the blades with oil to reduce the risk of rust. Rust destroys both the edge and the polished surface of the blades.

Rags or Towels

Clean and lint-free rags or towels are needed to wipe down the shears and remove any residual cleaning solvents.

Safety Gear

Wearing protective gear like gloves and safety goggles is vital to prevent injuries during the cleaning process.

Sharpening Tools

Helps maintain blade sharpness.

Storage Container

A designated container to store the shears can help ensure they remain clean and protected when not in use.

Screwdriver or Wrench

Necessary for disassembling and reassembling the shears for a more thorough cleaning.

Steps For Cleaning Sheep Shears Blades

To work their best, shearing tools must be regularly maintained. This includes cleaning clippers, sharpening blades, and putting oil on moving parts. Neglecting routine maintenance might result in less effective shearing and possibly discomfort for the sheep because of blunt blades.

Preparing the Shears for Cleaning

Preparing the shears for cleaning is essential to ensure safety and efficiency. This involves detaching the blades from the main body. This step allows you to completely clean each component. It lets you remove dirt, debris, and wool particles that may have accumulated in the shears' nooks and crannies, especially around the pivot point. Disassembling the shears also makes it easier to inspect the blades for signs of damage or wear, which can be difficult when the shears are fully assembled.

S A F E T Y First!

As you take the shears apart and handle their parts, you should always put safety first. Shear blades are very sharp and can hurt you if you don't handle them properly. 

To lower the risk of potential accidents and injury, make sure you're wearing the right safety gear, like gloves and eye protection. Gloves protect your hands when you're working with sharp blades and help you keep a firm grip when you're cleaning and putting things together. Wearing protective eyewear keeps your eyes safe from any debris that might dislodge while you're cleaning. 

Removing Dirt, Wool, and Debris

After the shears have been disassembled and all safety precautions have been taken, the next step in the cleaning process is to remove any accumulated dirt, wool, and debris that could impair the shears' performance. 

A cleaning brush with strong bristles is your go-to for removing dirt, wool fibers, and debris that have accumulated on the blades over time. A thorough brushing of the blades is necessary, but make sure to pay special attention to the pivot point and other nooks where organic material frequently collects. Cleaning these parts thoroughly ensures that there are no obstacles or hindrances to the shears' operation. This procedure not only increases the blade's longevity but also adds to a smoother and more effective shearing operation. 

After the shears are free of debris and dirt, the next step is dissolving wool grease and other stubborn residues from the blades. These residues must be dissolved because their presence might restrict the smooth movement of the blades and reduce the overall effectiveness of the shears. 

A suitable cleaning solution for shears will make the task easier. The product is specially formulated to dissolve wool grease and other stubborn buildup that brushing alone may not remove. For the best results, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying the cleaning solution. 

Lubricating the Blades

Once the blades of the shears are clean and free from dirt and debris, the next step in the maintenance process involves applying shear lubricant or oil to the blades. Choose a lubricant specifically formulated for the purpose.

Lubricating reduces friction between the blades and prevents overheating and wear. It also preserves the blade’s sharpness by reducing the risk of rust or corrosion. When the blades are well-lubricated, all the moving parts, including the pivot point, operate effortlessly; this is very important to the shearing process. 

Make sure to thoroughly lubricate all moving parts, paying special attention to the pivot point. A properly oiled pivot point is essential because it makes the shears open and close smoothly and eliminates jerky or uneven movements that can cause discomfort for the sheep and make shearing difficult.

Inspecting for Damage and Wear

After cleaning and lubricating the blades, the next important step in the maintenance process is to thoroughly inspect the shears to look for any signs of wear or damage to the blades. 

When inspecting the blades, check the cutting edges closely for dents, chips, or twisted teeth. With this thorough check, you may quickly find and fix any problem that could compromise the performance of the shears. 

If, during the inspection, you notice that the blades are dull, damaged, or worn, you must proceed with blade sharpening. Sharpening stones or equipment created specifically for shears are vital for restoring the sharpness and efficacy of the blades. To get consistent and best results when sharpening the blades, it is important to maintain the correct angle and apply even pressure throughout the procedure. 

After thoroughly cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting the shears, the final step in the maintenance is to ensure they are properly stored. 

Proper Storage After Cleaning

After completing the cleaning and maintenance tasks, the next step is to properly reassemble the shears. Make sure that the blades are properly aligned and that all parts are securely tightened. This will help ensure the structural integrity and readiness for use. Proper alignment and secure assembly are essential for getting the best results during shearing sessions. Misalignment or uneven blade motions can be uncomfortable for the sheep or result in an inefficient shearing operation.

To keep the shears safe from dust, dirt, and damage, it's best to keep them in a special shears case or container. When they're not being used, these shears should be kept clean and safe in this case. Proper storage is necessary for preserving the cleanliness and sharpness of the shears, extending their lifespan, and ensuring their readiness for the next shearing session.  It will also lower the chance that your shears will get lost or damaged.

We recommend the Pet & Livestock HQ 380W Professional Electric Sheep Shears, the ultimate grooming device that combines power, precision, and durability. 

Maintaining Sharpness For Optimum Blade Performance

The Sharpness of the blades is an important part of maintaining sheep shears. It helps guarantee the precision and effectiveness of sheep shears. 

Keeping the blades sharp is not only humane; it also increases shearer efficiency by reducing the time and effort allotted for each shearing session. Sharpened blades lessen the likelihood of accidents and injuries since they operate smoothly and without the need for excessive force.

The frequency of sharpening depends on the frequency of use and the condition of the blades. Regular inspection after each shearing session is recommended.

Techniques for Sharpening Sheep Shear Blades

Several techniques can be used to sharpen sheep shear blades effectively:

  1. Sharpening Stones

Sharpening stones have long been a go-to tool for maintaining the sharpness of sheep shears. They are available in various grits, with coarser stones used for initial sharpening and finer ones for the finishing touch.

Considerations When Using a Sharpening Stone

  • Lubrication: Begin by applying a few drops of sharpening oil or water to the stone's surface. This lubrication reduces friction and enables more precise blade sharpening.
  • Proper Sharpening Angle: Maintain the correct sharpening angle, typically in the range of 20-30 degrees. Ensure both blades are sharpened evenly to preserve a consistent cutting edge.
  • Technique: Move the blades across the stone in a steady, rhythmic motion while maintaining uniform pressure on both blades. This consistent pressure fosters even sharpening and minimizes inconsistencies.
  • Skill Development: Achieving the right angle and pressure may be challenging for beginners, but proficiency improves with practice and experience.
  • Testing: To gauge the sharpness level, conduct regular tests to evaluate the effectiveness of the sharpening process. Perform a test cut on a piece of fleece to assess blade sharpness. If the blades aren't sharp enough, repeat the sharpening process.

    2.Specialized Sharpening Tools

Hand-held sharpeners and guided sharpening systems are examples of specialized sharpening tools that are made solely for maintaining shears.  They are user-friendly and are ideal for those who shear sheep regularly. They often come with angle guides to maintain the proper sharpening angle. These tools make the sharpening process easier and ideal for pros and amateurs.

3.Services for Sharpening

If you'd rather not sharpen your own shears, you can get them done by a professional.These experts possess the necessary skills and specialized tools to ensure that your shears are sharpened correctly and consistently. Many professionals and large-scale shearers opt for this service to maintain their equipment in optimal condition, thus prolonging its lifespan. Choosing professional sharpening services can save you time and guarantee the longevity of your shearing equipment.

Table 2. Fixing Common Issues Of Sheep Shears



What To Do

Rust and Corrosion

This can occur when shears are exposed to moisture or not stored properly. 

Cleaning: Start by giving your shears a thorough cleaning to get rid of any dirt or debris. Rust can be removed with a wire brush, and the blades should be cleaned with a cloth or sponge. If required, apply an appropriate rust remover but make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Lubrication: After removing rust and corrosion, the shears must be lubricated with an appropriate oil or lubricant. This helps to prevent further rust build-up and ensures the blades run smoothly.

Prevention: Keep your shears in a clean, dry place to avoid rust and corrosion. If you don't use the blades very often, be sure to regularly check them for any signs of rust. If you find any, make sure to  address the problem right away to keep it from getting worse.

Stubborn Debris

Stubborn debris, such as wool grease or hardened dirt, may accumulate on the blades.

Cleaning Solvent: Use a cleaning solvent made specifically for shears. These solvents are capable of dissolving even the most stubborn residues. For the best results, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Soaking: To help remove debris, soak the blades in warm, soapy water. Once the shears have soaked, remove the softened debris with a brush, and then dry and lubricate the shears.

Maintenance: Cleaning and lubricating your shears after every use can help avoid the accumulation of stubborn dirt and residues. This reduces the likelihood of debris becoming hard and difficult to remove. 

When to Get Shears Fixed or Replaced

Sheep shears have a limited lifespan, just like any other tool. In time, you have to decide whether to replace or repair them. There are several important factors that you should consider to make the right decision. 

1.Blade Condition:
  • If the blades are severely broken, excessively worn, or no longer capable of effective sharpening, it may be time for new shears.
  • Poor blade condition can compromise the quality and efficiency of the shearing process, potentially causing discomfort to the sheep and increasing the shearer's workload.
2.Cost of Maintenance:
  • Compare the cost of purchasing new shears to the expenses associated with repairs, including labor and replacement parts.
  • Opting for new shears might make financial sense if the repair costs are high, considering the long-term benefits of owning a reliable tool.
3.Safety and Efficiency:
  • Prioritize the safety and efficiency of the shearing process.
  • If persistent issues with current shears hinder efficiency or pose safety risks, it's advisable to replace them to ensure the well-being of both the sheep and the shearer.

By weighing these factors, you can make an informed decision on whether to repair or replace your shears, ensuring optimal performance and safety in the shearing process.

Tips On Making Sheep Shear Blades Last Longer

Shears can last longer if you maintain them and store them properly between shearing seasons, making them worth the investment.

A good maintenance routine should include: 

  • Thorough cleaning after each use
  • Lubrication
  • Inspection and sharpening
  • Replacing worn parts

In between shearing seasons, the following practices must be observed:

  • Disassembling and cleaning of the shears
  • Lubricating the blades and all moving parts to prevent rust and corrosion during storage
  • Making sure the shears are completely dry before storage
  • Storing the shears in a cool, dry place that is well-ventilated to prevent the build-up of moisture
  • Periodic inspection to identify and address any issue that may have occurred during storage, ensuring they are in optimal condition for the next time they are needed.


Two fundamental practices are consistently observed when taking care of sheep shear blades-- keeping them clean and making sure they stay sharp and ready for the next shearing session. 

Clean blades benefit both the sheep and the shearer. Sharp blades lessen the physical strain and effort required during shearing and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. It will also be a more humane experience for the sheep because they won’t experience unnecessary discomfort. Overall,  well-maintained shears enhance the quality and efficiency of the shearing process and result in better-quality fleece.

Investing time and effort in sheep shear blade maintenance extends their lifespan and saves you money that might otherwise be spent on repairs or replacements.

November 11, 2023 — Merliza Cabriles