Keeping Scissors Sharp

Why your scissors may be dull―and how to fix the blades fast.

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Photo by Alison Gootee
The first rule of thumb (and forefinger) for keeping scissors and shears in top shape: Use them only for their intended tasks. That means resisting the urge to close desk scissors on that plastic price tag or nail scissors on those geraniums. You’ll dull or nick the metal and may also throw off the alignment of the blades. “We don’t even recommend using fabric shears for paper,” says Elizabeth Primiano, assistant product manager for scissor and knife maker Mundial USA. “Manufacturers design cutting tools for specific types of work.” More ways to keep your scissors cutting cleanly:

  • Wipe the blade and the pivot screw (where lint and grease build up) with a soft, dry cloth. “Wrap the cloth around the scissors, rather than rubbing, so you don’t nick the blade or your hand,” advises Jayne Reichert, a professional sharpener at Razor Sharp Cutlery, in San Francisco.
  • Unless your tool is dishwasher-safe, avoid exposing scissors to water, which can cause rust. All blades, dishwasher-safe or not, should be wiped dry when they get wet.
  • If the blades are hard to open and close, put a drop of mineral oil on the pivot screw, says Primiano.
  • If the blades look bent or don’t close completely, they have become misaligned. If the scissors were expensive, you can have a professional realign the blades for upwards of $10.