How to Clean Sticky or Rusty Scissors in No Time

pair of scissors that needs to be cleaned

Mint Images / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins - 2 days
  • Yield: Clean scissors
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Scissors get into a lot of dirty jobs, from cutting through tape to trimming hair to cutting through glue-covered construction paper during craft time. Or they can find themselves left neglected outside, with rust building up, making them impossible to move.

No matter how sticky or rusty they are, it’s worth trying to bring your scissors back to their original, shiny, ready-to-cut state. Fortunately, it’s an easy process that typically requires just one ingredient and one cloth or non scratch scouring pad. Just make sure you keep this task relegated to the adults.

How Often to Clean Scissors

Scissors only need to be cleaned as often as they get dirty, so that depends on where you’re using them. If your scissors are often used for kids’ craft projects, they may get stickier faster. If you use them for food, you should clean them each and every time you use them. But if they’re only used for paper, they can go longer between cleaning.

What to Consider Before Cleaning Sticky or Rusty Scissors

Before you choose a method for cleaning sticky or rusty scissors, consider how bad the cleaning situation is, as well as their use in your home. If there's some tape residue, but they're not unusable, a quick vinegar treatment will do the trick. If they are covered in craft glue, you may need to opt for something stronger, like the citrus oil cleaner. And, if they're kitchen scissors, you'll want to use only food-safe products to clean them.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Bowl
  • Cloth
  • Non-scratch scouring pad


  • White vinegar
  • Citrus oil cleaner


How to Clean Sticky Scissors With White Vinegar

  1. Soak a Clean Cloth in White Vinegar

    Soak a clean, thick cloth using non-diluted white vinegar. Make sure that it is adequately soaked, and not just lightly damp.

  2. Wipe the Blades

    Carefully wipe the blades with the vinegar-soaked cloth, wiping away any stickiness. Repeat as necessary until all the residue has been removed. Give one final wipe once everything is gone, but don't rinse with water. Dry them with a clean cloth.


    Don't clean your scissors with water, even after using vinegar. If any water or moisture remains, it can lead to rust.

How to Clean Rusty Scissors With White Vinegar

  1. Fill a Large Bowl With White Vinegar

    Fill a large bowl with white vinegar, place the scissors in the bowl to submerge them, and let them soak for several days. Rusty scissors are a tougher job to clean than sticky ones, but vinegar is still up for the challenge.

  2. Scrub the Scissors With a Non-Scratch Scouring Pad

    Using a non scratch scouring pad, scrub away the rust from the scissor blades. This may take a little bit of elbow grease.

  3. Wipe With a Vinegar-Soaked Cloth

    Borrow this step from the sticky scissors instructions, and use a vinegar soaked cloth to wipe down the scissors. Repeat until all rust residue is gone. Dry with a clean cloth.


    If you're using scissors that you use for food, only use food-safe cleaners on them. In these cases, white vinegar is your best option.

How to Clean Sticky Scissors With a Citrus Oil Cleaner

  1. Apply the Citrus Oil Cleaner Directly to the Scissors

    Citrus oils are known for cutting through the stickiest of residue and products like Goo Gone® are a miracle worker on jobs like this. Apply the citrus oil cleaner directly to the scissor blades. Allow it to sit for five to ten minutes.

  2. Remove the Cleaner With a Cloth

    Wipe away the citrus oil cleaner with a cloth. It may take several swipes to remove all of the cleaner. Give it a final wipe with vinegar if there is still oil from the cleaner left behind.


    Use a thick cloth to protect your fingers while cleaning the blades.

Tips to Keep Scissors Clean Longer

  • Never use water on scissors. This can cause the scissors to rust, even if you think they are completely dry.
  • If your scissors do not easily move, even after cleaning, try a few drops of oil or WD-40 to loosen up the screw that holds the blades together.
  • A cloth is typically better than a cotton ball for sticky residue, since the cotton ball will stick to the residue making it worse before it gets better.