How to Clean Router Bits – 5 Simple Steps

How To Clean Router Bits

Cleaning router bits is an essential step in making sure that your next project is successful. Wood sap, pitch, and resin can get caked onto your bits. This can cause them to cut less efficiently, ultimately sacrificing the quality of your finished product. While cleaning them after every use is unnecessary, checking your bits from time to time is important, ensuring they are clean enough to make good cuts. We’ll cover some tips on how to clean router bits with household products.

5 Simple Steps to Clean Your Router Bits

This 5-step system is easy to follow and ensures that you’ll be working with nice, sharp bits. Following these steps will help you achieve smooth cuts and avoid unnecessary burn marks on your woodworking project.

Step 1) Wear gloves

It’s essential to take necessary safety precautions before cleaning your router bits. The blades are incredibly sharp and can easily cut your hands or fingers. As you’re cleaning, you’ll primarily be holding the bit by the shank, but the motion of your brushing hand can come close to the blades. For this reason, it’s a good idea to wear gloves that can stand up to the pass over a router bit blade.

Step 2) Use a toothbrush

First, you should start by brushing away as much wood residue as possible before turning to any solutions or chemicals. I typically use an old toothbrush for getting in-between tight spaces and also around the blades. A firm toothbrush will give you the best results.

Router Bit With Toothbrush

Step 3) Remove any bearings

If the router bit you’re cleaning has a bearing, removing it before using any solution is important. Some solutions can act as degreasers and remove the lubrication used to keep the bearing spinning freely. This will ruin the bearing. Removing the bearing will also allow you to brush away sawdust that might be trapped.

Step 4) Use a solution

The caked-on wood residue is often too difficult to completely remove by brushing. You might need the help of a cleaning solution to get the rest off and return your blades to perfection. Some people swear by harsh blade and bit cleaners, but I am a big fan of Simple Green, which works very well for cleaning router bits and other tools. Simple Green is great because it’s environmentally friendly, highly effective at cleaning router bits, and can be used for many things around the house. I also use it to clean sap and other residues off of my planer bed.

With all bearings removed, spray the solution on the router bit blades, covering any areas with caked-on wood residue. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes, allowing the solution time to break down the residue. Once it’s sat for a few minutes, you should be able to wipe the blades clean.

Router Bit with Simple Green

Step 5) Allow router bits to dry and re-install bearings

Hand dry your bits with a cloth and allow them to air dry completely before re-installing the bearings. It’s important to ensure any leftover solution doesn’t drip back into the bearing. Once they’re dry, store them away and be ready for smooth cutting on your next woodworking project.

Router Bit with Pitch Residue - Before
Clean Router Bit - After


That’s it! A simple 5-step solution for how to clean your router bits and keep them in tip-top shape. This method has been working well for me for years. Of course, if you’d like to share some of your own tips for cleaning router bits, we’d love to hear about it. Please comment below and let us know!



About the author

Picture of Stephen Rice

Stephen Rice

Stephen is a hobby woodworker... a weekend warrior, if you will. Over the past 8 years, he's been tackling projects around the house and building furniture for family and friends. During his time as a woodworker, Stephen has tested and used just about every power tool out there, across multiple brands. He's not loyal to one brand, but simply chooses the best option for the job at hand. When he's not in the shop, Stephen can be found doing just about anything outdoors.

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