When I pulled out some of our shovels and spades the other day to illustrate this post, I was horrified to see that most of them had been put away dirty, smeared with mud or caked on soil. How embarrassing--- please don't tell!
As soon as our photo shoot was completed (my model was in a hurry to get back to the job) I grabbed a rag, some steel wool, and mineral spirits. After wiping off the worst of the grime, I scrubbed off the blade and shaft with with steel wool, hoping to remove any bits of rust. This particular shovel had been recently sharpened, so I didn't need to take the file to it, but a few of the others got a quick once-over.
Next came a thorough wipe-down with mineral oil to both the metal areas and the wood handles. Whew! I feel so much better knowing that our tools are now in good shape while they "rest up" for gardening season.