Why Are My Scissors Stiff?

Scissors are important sewing cutting tools and while using them to cut they should easily be able open and close without applying too much strain however if they become hard to open and close this means the scissors have become stiff.

If you notice your scissors are feeling stiff while using them you might want to find out why this is so and how you can fix them. Read through this article to find your answers and learn more about scissors.

Why Are My Scissors Stiff?

When you find out that your scissors have gotten stiff, you need to find the reason behind the change to know how you can fix it. Some of the reasons that cause scissors to become stiff include:

Reason 1: High Tension

Tension is a reason why your scissors are stiff, if the tension of the scissors is too high they won’t open smoothly.

The tension of the scissors is regulated by the screw in the pivot area of the scissors. When the screw is too tightened, the tension in the scissors will be too high and this will affect the movement of the metal blades.

Reason 2: Lack of Oil

It’s well known that machines and equipment with moving metal parts should be oiled from time to time for effective functioning, this week is the case for scissors as well.

When you don’t oil your scissors, the base area of the metal blades will develop friction which makes the scissors stiff. The lack of oil makes it difficult for the metal blades of the scissors to open and close smoothly.

Reason 3: Irregular Cleaning

Additionally, not cleaning your scissors will make them get stiff as the fibers and other residues that accumulate at the base of the metal blades while using them will limit their movement.

So if you notice your scissors feeling stiff while using them it might be because you’ve not cleaned them in a while.

Reason 4: Rust

Another reason scissors become stiff is rust. Rust is the corrosion of iron and its alloys such as steel. This corrosion of scissors happens in the presence of water and oxygen; over time any iron material will change completely to rust. In the case of scissors, when the pivot area and metal blades of the scissors are exposed to moisture, they will start rusting.

At first, you will start noticing rust spots and you might not be concerned as the scissors opening and closing smoothly isn’t affected greatly but with time the rusting increases and it becomes difficult for the scissors to open and close to the point where the scissor’s movement is totally ceased.

If the rust is limited to the pivot area then the scissor’s movement just will be limited and if it extends to the metal blades, the scissors won’t close and open very well.

How To Fix Your Stiff Scissors

Once you find out the probable reasons why your scissors are stiff, the next thing to do is find out how you can fix them and restore them back to good condition. Here are the methods you can use to fix your stiff scissors.

Method 1: Cleaning

Cleaning your scissors from time to time will help you fix your stiff scissors. Clean with a soft and dry fabric and wipe down every part of your scissors from the metal blades to the pivot area and the handles to get rid of accumulated loose fibers, lint, or any other dirt. To get all the dirt out make sure you open and close the scissors a bit while cleaning.

Method 2: Oiling

Regularly oiling your scissors will help fix their stiffness. Applying oil to your scissors will lubricate them, reduce friction and increase the range of movement of the scissors. Wiping a small amount of oil on the metal blades of the scissors will also help create a protective barrier against rust.

You can’t just apply oil once and leave it, oiling your scissors should be done repeatedly, and if you’re applying oil to prevent rust have a cloth at hand to wipe it off when you want to use the scissors.

Method 3: Adjusting Tension

If the cause of your stiff scissors is high tension, all you need to do is get a screwdriver to make adjustments. You just need to turn it to the left to loosen the screw and make the scissors easier to open and close.

Method 4: Use Vinegar To Remove Rust

Vinegar is known to remove rust no matter the severity. You can soak your scissors in distilled white vinegar and leave for about 24 hours, the time taken will depend on how severe the rust is.

By the time you remove your scissors from the liquid, the rust would’ve dissolved completely, if not you will be able to easily wipe any remnant away with a cloth or scrub with a brush.

Method 5: Store Properly

The utmost way to prevent your scissors from rusting which can cause stiffness is to keep your scissors away from moisture. You should also know that the typical air contains moisture in the form of humidity so you shouldn’t keep your scissors in a humid place, keep it in something be it a pouch, sheath, or box.

How Stiff Should My Scissors Be?

Stiffness is usual in scissors, your scissor needs a bit of stiffness to perform its function efficiently but when it’s too much or too loose that’s where the issues come in. To check if your scissors have the appropriate tension and stiffness, hold your scissors in front of you with the metal blades pointing upwards and the scissors’ handles pointing downward. 

After which you keep one handle in its original position and you open the other handle until the metal blades are in a 90 degrees position. Stop holding the handle that you moved, then shake the scissors a bit and see what happens.

If the blade of the handle you’re not holding moves a bit then the tension and stiffness are right, but if the scissors snap shut then it’s too loose and should be tightened and if it doesn’t move at all this means the scissors are too stiff with high tension and should be loosened.

Can Rust Stiffen Scissors Hinges?

Rust can stiffen any metal part of the scissors so yes, it can stiffen scissor hinges. And as the scissors hinge rust it becomes increasingly difficult to open and close the scissors, and the region gets weaker as the rust develops and this can cause the scissors to break when it comes across a tough fabric while in use.

So, you should always be on the lookout for rust so you can quickly combat it with distilled white vinegar before it damages your scissors.

Can My Scissor Hinge Break?

Yes, scissor hinges can break to the point where most scissors break. The break might be due to the development of rust around the hinge area. Rusting makes it weak and prone to breaking. The break might also be because you’re applying too much pressure while using the scissors to cut through materials it can’t cut through, the strong pressure can break the scissor hinge.

You can take the broken scissors to the repair professionals to fix them for you as the break usually affect the screw or pivot piece, you will still have the two parts of the scissors separated in this case. If you’re the type with one of those scissors with a lifetime warranty you’re in luck because this fixing will cost you no fee.

Why Are My Scissors Sticking Together?

Another issue common with scissors is stickiness. If you notice that your scissors are sticking together, this is probably caused by cutting something with an adhesive. If you cut anything with glue on it, it’s easy for some of it to transfer to your metal blades making it difficult for your scissors to come apart, it’s not a complicated issue.

All you need to do is clean your scissors if you notice any form of glue on them or better still, always make sure to clean them after you use the scissors to cut something with an adhesive. You can use an adhesive remover to clean it or use your regular sewing machine oil to clean it.

How Often Should Scissors Be Cleaned And Oiled?

You can make a habit of wiping your scissors down thoroughly after every use or after every big project. With oiling it depends on use, if you use your scissors frequently then you should oil your scissors weekly if not once every month is fine.


There are reasons why your scissors might be stiff, it could be because of rusting, high tension, dirt accumulation, or lack of oil. So, once you find out why your scissors are stiff you will be able to know the exact method out of the ones mentioned above to use to fix it.

Cleaning and oiling your scissors is essential and can help you fix most of the issues associated with your scissors be it scissors stiffness or stickiness.