a person using a lawn mower

How to Clean a Lawn Mower

Hey there, lawn care enthusiasts and DIY heroes! You know how awesome it feels to see your lawn looking like a green carpet, right? Well, that beautiful lawn doesn’t just happen by magic—it’s your trusty lawn mower that gets the job done. But here’s the thing: to keep your lawn mower running like a champ, you’ve got to show it some love and care. So, roll up your sleeves because we’re diving into “How to Clean a Lawn Mower.”

Why bother, you ask? Cleaning your lawn mower is like giving your car a good wash and tune-up. It helps your mower run better, last longer, and even keeps it safe to use. Let’s face it, no one wants to mess around with a rusty, clogged-up machine that could give up any moment.

Stick around as we break down the steps for you, making it as easy as pie to get your lawn mower sparkling clean. Trust us, your grass will thank you!

Why Regular Cleaning is Essential

Improved Performance

First up on our list of reasons for how to clean a lawn mower? Performance, of course! Think about it—when you keep your machine clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard. Grass, dirt, and all that other gunk can get stuck in the blades or the deck, making your mower struggle. Clean those parts, and it’s like giving your mower a brand-new start. It’ll slice through grass like a hot knife through butter.

Extends the Life of the Machine

If you treat your lawn mower like the garden hero it is, it’s going to stick around for the long run. Regular cleaning means you’re removing all the dirt, grass clippings, and even small bits of debris that can wear down the machine over time. This is a simple way to make sure you’re not shopping for a new lawn mower anytime soon. A clean mower is a happy mower, and a happy mower lasts longer.

Reduces the Chances of Mechanical Failure

Imagine you’re halfway through mowing your lawn, and suddenly, your machine sputters and dies. Yikes! That could be due to the buildup of all sorts of stuff like dirt, oil, or even an old bird’s nest tucked away in a hidden corner. When you make it a habit to clean your lawn mower, you’re reducing the risk of unexpected mechanical failure. A clean machine is way less likely to break down, saving you both time and headaches in the long run.

Enhances Safety

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk safety. Lawn mowers are powerful machines with sharp blades, and the last thing you want is for something to go wrong while you’re using one. Did you know that dirt and grime can actually affect the safety features on your mower? For instance, clogged sensors or switches may not work as they should, putting you at risk. A good cleaning will help ensure all the safety features are working the way they’re supposed to.

In a nutshell, understanding how to clean a lawn mower is more than just about making it look good. You’re boosting performance, extending its life, reducing the risk of breakdowns, and keeping things safe. So, don’t skip this crucial step in your lawn care routine!

Safety Precautions Before You Begin

Alright, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to clean a lawn mower, let’s talk safety. No cutting corners here—safety is a big deal when you’re dealing with machines as powerful as lawn mowers.

Disconnect the Spark Plug

First and foremost, you’ve got to disconnect the spark plug. This is like turning off the power button for your lawn mower. By doing this, you’re making sure the mower can’t suddenly start up while you’re working on it. Trust us, you don’t want those blades spinning unexpectedly. So, go ahead and pull that spark plug wire off. You’ll usually find it near the motor. Just grab the rubber boot that covers the plug and gently pull it away.

Wear Protective Gloves and Eyewear

You’re going to be dealing with grease, grime, and maybe even some chemicals. Plus, you might be handling sharp blades. That’s why it’s a smart idea to wear protective gloves and eyewear. Gloves will keep your hands clean and provide an extra layer of protection, while the eyewear will ensure nothing splashes or flies into your eyes.

Make Sure the Mower is Cool and Not Recently Operated

If you’ve just finished mowing the lawn, take a break and let the mower cool down. The engine and other parts can get hot, and you don’t want to burn yourself. Plus, cleaning a hot engine could lead to other problems, like cracking due to rapid temperature changes. Wait until the machine is cool to the touch before diving into your cleaning project.

Ensure Proper Ventilation if Using Cleaning Solvents

If you’re planning to use any cleaning solvents or chemicals, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area. You don’t want to breathe in those fumes for an extended period. If possible, work outdoors or make sure to open all the windows and doors if you’re in a garage.

There you have it—these are the safety precautions you shouldn’t skip when figuring out how to clean a lawn mower. Making safety a priority sets the stage for a successful and risk-free cleaning session. So gear up and let’s get that lawn mower in tip-top shape!

Tools and Supplies Needed

Okay, folks, it’s almost time to dive into the how-to section of how to clean a lawn mower, but first, let’s make sure you’re fully equipped. You wouldn’t go camping without a tent, right? Similarly, you shouldn’t attempt to clean your lawn mower without the proper tools and supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

List of Tools

  1. Screwdriver: For opening any panels and loosening screws.
  2. Wrench Set: Useful for removing bolts and nuts, especially when taking off blades or other attachments.
  3. Plastic Scraper: Great for removing grass and mud buildup from the mower deck.
  4. Spark Plug Socket: For safely removing and reattaching the spark plug.

List of Cleaning Supplies

  1. Soap: A mild dish soap will work well for most surfaces.
  2. Water: For rinsing off soap and grime.
  3. Cloth: A soft, non-abrasive cloth is ideal for wiping down surfaces.
  4. Brush: A medium-bristle brush will help you get into nooks and crannies.

Optional but Useful Items

  1. Compressed Air: Handy for blowing out debris from hard-to-reach areas.
  2. Lubricant: A general-purpose lubricant can be used on moving parts after cleaning.
  3. Carburetor Cleaner: Useful if you’re planning to clean the carburetor.
  4. Rust Remover: If your mower is showing signs of rust, this could come in handy.

Having the right tools and supplies not only makes the job easier but also ensures you do a thorough job. So before you start, take a quick inventory and make sure you have everything you need for the task ahead. Once you’re all set, you’ll be well on your way to mastering how to clean a lawn mower like a pro.

Cleaning the Exterior

Great, you’ve got your safety gear on, and you’ve assembled your cleaning arsenal. Now let’s get to the part we’ve all been waiting for—how to clean a lawn mower, starting with the exterior. Keeping the outside clean is like giving your lawn mower a good wash. It’s not just about making it look pretty; it’s also about making sure everything works as it should.

Dry Cleaning: Wipe Off Loose Dirt and Grass Clippings

Begin your cleaning journey by addressing the loose dirt and grass clippings clinging to your lawn mower. Use a soft cloth or a brush to gently wipe away the easy-to-remove grime. This step will make the wet cleaning process more effective, as you won’t be smearing mud all over the place.

Wet Cleaning: Use a Damp Cloth to Wipe Stubborn Dirt

After you’ve removed the loose debris, it’s time to roll up your sleeves for some wet cleaning. Take a damp cloth and start wiping down all the stubborn spots where dirt has decided to make itself at home. Focus on areas like the handlebars, wheels, and the outer surface of the deck. Make sure to squeeze out excess water from the cloth to avoid any water seeping into electrical components.

Soap Application: If Necessary, Apply a Mild Detergent

If you encounter stubborn grime or grease that a damp cloth can’t handle, it’s soap time. Use a mild detergent, dilute it with water, and apply it to the tough spots. You can use your brush for this part to really get into those hard-to-reach places. A little bit of elbow grease might be required, but your lawn mower will thank you for it.

Final Wipe Down: Use a Clean, Dry Cloth

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve evicted all the dirt and grime, give your lawn mower a final wipe down with a clean, dry cloth. This will remove any leftover soap or moisture, ensuring that your mower stays rust-free and happy.

And there you have it—your guide to cleaning the exterior of your lawn mower. See? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much better your machine looks and performs with just a little bit of care. So go ahead, make cleaning your lawn mower a regular part of your lawn care routine. Your grass will definitely show its appreciation!

Cleaning the Deck

Alright, let’s shift gears and focus on a part of the lawn mower that often gets the dirtiest but is crucial for its performance—the deck. Yes, that’s the flat part that houses the blade and does the actual mowing. Here’s how to clean a lawn mower’s deck like a pro.

Accessing the Deck: Tilt the Mower or Remove the Blades for Better Access

First things first, you’ll need to get access to the underbelly of your machine. You can do this by tilting the mower on its side, making sure the air filter and carburetor are facing up to avoid any oil spills. If you’re feeling a bit more hands-on, you can remove the blades using a wrench (just make sure you’ve already disconnected the spark plug for safety).

Removing Grass Clippings: Scrape off Clippings with a Plastic Scraper

With your lawn mower tilted or blades removed, you’ll see a lot of grass clippings and maybe even some mud caked onto the deck. Grab your plastic scraper and start the removal process. Why a plastic scraper and not a metal one? Because plastic is less likely to scratch or damage the metal deck. Scrape off as much as you can, working your way from one side to the other.

Washing the Deck: Use a Hose or Pressure Washer

Now that you’ve removed the bulk of the grass and grime, it’s time to get things sparkling clean. Grab your hose or pressure washer, and rinse away the remaining dirt. If you’re using a pressure washer, make sure to keep a reasonable distance to avoid damaging the paint or metal. A thorough wash will help remove any leftover grass sap or hidden dirt that could lead to corrosion or affect the mower’s performance.

Drying: Ensure It Is Completely Dry to Avoid Rust

Last but certainly not least, it’s drying time. Use a cloth to wipe down the deck, or let it air dry if you prefer. Either way, you’ll want to make sure it’s completely dry to prevent rust from forming. If you’re in a hurry, you can also use compressed air to speed up the drying process.

There you go! Your lawn mower’s deck should now be as clean as a whistle. Not only will this make your mower more efficient, but it’ll also prolong its life. Remember, a well-maintained machine makes for a well-maintained lawn, so never underestimate the power of knowing how to clean a lawn mower’s deck properly.

Cleaning the Blades

Now that the exterior and the deck are spotless, let’s turn our attention to the blades. These are the workhorses of your lawn mower—the sharper and cleaner they are, the better your lawn will look. So, let’s dive right into how to clean a lawn mower’s blades from start to finish.

Removal: How to Safely Remove Lawn Mower Blades

Safety first! Ensure you’ve disconnected the spark plug before proceeding. To remove the blades, you’ll need to tilt the mower on its side, air filter and carburetor facing upwards to prevent oil spills. Use a wrench to loosen and remove the nuts and bolts holding the blades in place. Keep all these fasteners safely; you’ll need them for re-attachment.

Cleaning Process: Removing Rust and Debris

Once the blades are off, you’ll likely notice a buildup of grass clippings, mud, and maybe even some rust. Use your plastic scraper to remove the grass and mud. For rust or any stubborn gunk, you may want to use a wire brush or even some rust remover. Make sure you get both sides of each blade and their edges.

Sharpening: Recommended Only If You Know How to Do It Safely

If you notice that the blades are dull, you may opt to sharpen them. However, this is a step that should only be taken if you’re comfortable doing so and have the right tools, like a blade sharpener or a grinding wheel. If you’re not experienced in blade sharpening, it’s safer to take them to a professional. Dull blades not only make your mower work harder but also leave your grass looking frayed and brown at the edges.

Re-attachment: Reattach Blades Securely

Once the blades are clean (and sharp, if you chose to sharpen them), it’s time to put them back where they belong. Align them properly and use the nuts and bolts you kept safe earlier to secure them back in place. Double-check to make sure they are firmly attached. Finally, don’t forget to reconnect the spark plug.

And there you have it! Your lawn mower’s blades are now in peak condition, ready to make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood. Cleaning the blades is an essential part of knowing how to clean a lawn mower, so make sure to include it in your regular maintenance routine. You, and your lawn, will be glad you did.

Cleaning the Air Filter

Next on our to-do list in the quest of mastering how to clean a lawn mower is the air filter. Think of the air filter as the lungs of your mower; it’s what helps the machine breathe easy and run smoothly. A clogged or dirty air filter can make your mower work harder than it should, reducing both its efficiency and lifespan. So, let’s get that filter clean!

Removal: How to Take Out the Air Filter

First, you’ll need to locate the air filter. Usually, it’s housed in a small compartment on the side of the engine. The compartment is typically secured with screws or clips. Use a screwdriver to open it up and carefully take out the air filter.

Inspection: Checking the Condition of the Filter

Now that you’ve got the air filter in your hands, give it a good look-over. Is it clogged with dirt or grass? Does it look worn out or torn? The condition of the filter will tell you whether you should clean it or replace it entirely.

Cleaning or Replacement: Washing a Foam Filter or Replacing a Paper Filter

If your mower has a foam filter that’s dirty but still in good condition, you can clean it. Simply wash it in warm, soapy water, then rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely before reinstalling. If the filter is paper, however, you’ll need to replace it if it’s dirty or damaged. Paper filters can’t be cleaned effectively, and they’re generally not too expensive to replace.

Re-installation: Putting It Back in Place

Once the foam filter is dry (or you’ve got your new paper filter), it’s time to put it back. Make sure it fits snugly in its housing and secure the compartment. Screw any screws back in or latch any clips that keep it in place. Finally, double-check to ensure it’s securely installed, so it doesn’t come loose when the mower is operating.

And there you go! Cleaning or replacing the air filter is a vital step in learning how to clean a lawn mower, one that can help your mower breathe easier and run more efficiently. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, you’re well on your way to becoming a lawn mower maintenance pro!

Cleaning the Carburetor and Spark Plug

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about the carburetor and the spark plug. Think of the carburetor as the stomach of your lawn mower—it mixes air with fuel to make your machine run. The spark plug is like the heartbeat, providing the spark that ignites the fuel. Keeping these two components clean is crucial for a well-running mower. Here’s the final chapter in our guide on how to clean a lawn mower, focusing on these essential parts.

Access: How to Access These Components

To get to the carburetor and spark plug, you’ll first need to locate them. The spark plug is usually visible on the side of the mower’s engine and is connected by a thick wire. The carburetor is generally attached to the side of the engine as well but may be hidden under an air filter or another component.

Before touching anything, remember to disconnect the spark plug for safety reasons. Use a spark plug socket to remove it, and carefully set it aside.

To access the carburetor, you might need to remove the air filter or other surrounding parts, depending on your mower’s design. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Cleaning Techniques: Using Carburetor Cleaner and a Wire Brush


Once you’ve gained access to the carburetor, use a carburetor cleaner to spray the outside and inside (if possible without disassembling). Follow the instructions on the cleaner, and be sure to wear protective eyewear. The cleaner will help dissolve any gunk or deposits affecting performance.

Spark Plug

For the spark plug, use a wire brush to gently scrub away any rust or deposits on the metal areas. Be careful not to damage the electrode (the small piece that creates the spark). If the spark plug looks worn out or damaged, consider replacing it.

Re-attachment: Making Sure They Are Securely in Place


After you’ve finished cleaning the carburetor, if you had to remove any parts to access it, make sure to reattach them securely. This might include putting the air filter back or re-securing other surrounding components.

Spark Plug

When it comes to the spark plug, screw it back into its socket firmly using the spark plug socket. Don’t overtighten, as that could damage the engine. Finally, reattach the thick wire that connects it to the engine.

And there you have it—your carburetor and spark plug are now spick and span, ready to keep your mower running at its best. You’ve successfully navigated the nitty-gritty of how to clean a lawn mower, from its exterior and deck to the blades, air filter, carburetor, and spark plug. With these skills under your belt, your mower—and your lawn—will thank you for years to come.

Post-cleaning Checks and Maintenance

Congratulations! You’ve successfully learned how to clean a lawn mower from top to bottom. But before you roll your mower back into the garage or shed and call it a day, there are some final steps you should take to ensure your machine is not just clean, but also safe and ready for its next mowing adventure.

Check All Nuts and Bolts for Tightness

First up, give all the nuts, bolts, and fasteners a good once-over. The cleaning process involves a lot of jostling, and the last thing you want is a loose bolt causing problems down the line. Use a wrench or a screwdriver to tighten anything that seems even a bit loose. This will help ensure your mower is as sturdy and durable as possible.

Ensure All Safety Features are Operational

Next, take a moment to check all of the mower’s safety features. This might include the safety switch, blade control, and any other safety guards or features your mower might have. Consult your owner’s manual for what these are and how to check them. After all, a clean mower should also be a safe mower.

Optional: Apply a Coat of Rust-Proof Paint

If you’re in a DIY mood and want to go the extra mile, consider applying a coat of rust-proof paint to the mower’s deck and blades. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it can extend the life of these parts and keep them looking good as new.

By taking these extra steps, you’re not just finishing the job—you’re setting the stage for easier, more effective mowing in the future. And that’s what knowing how to clean a lawn mower is all about: making your life easier, your lawn more beautiful, and your equipment more reliable for years to come. Well done!

Troubleshooting Tips

So you’ve followed all the steps for how to clean a lawn mower, but maybe you’ve hit a snag or two along the way. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Even the most seasoned lawn care enthusiasts run into challenges sometimes. Here are some common issues that could arise during the cleaning process, along with tips on how to resolve them.

Stubborn Grime or Rust

Problem: Despite your best efforts, some areas—like blades or even parts of the deck—just won’t come clean.

Solution: For stubborn grime, consider using a stronger cleaning agent, but make sure it’s safe for the material you’re cleaning. For rust, a rust remover might be the ticket. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse off any cleaning agents when you’re done.

Difficulty Removing Blades or Components

Problem: The nuts and bolts are so tight that you can’t remove the blades or other components.

Solution: Try using a penetrating oil to loosen the nuts and bolts. Spray it on and wait a few minutes before attempting to loosen them again.

Spark Plug Won’t Disconnect

Problem: The spark plug seems stuck and won’t disconnect.

Solution: Use a spark plug socket that fits securely, and carefully apply force to loosen it. If it still won’t budge, a little penetrating oil could help here, too. Wait a few minutes and try again.

Air Filter Appears Damaged but Isn’t Dirty

Problem: The air filter doesn’t look dirty, but it seems to be damaged or worn out.

Solution: A damaged air filter should be replaced even if it’s not visibly dirty. A compromised filter can allow dirt and debris to enter the engine, which can lead to more serious problems.

Lawn Mower Won’t Start After Cleaning

Problem: You’ve done all the cleaning, but now the mower won’t start.

Solution: Double-check that you’ve reconnected all parts correctly, including the spark plug and air filter. Also, make sure all safety features are properly engaged. Sometimes, the mower won’t start because a safety feature is not correctly in place.

Unexpected Leaks After Cleaning

Problem: You notice some fluid leaking after you’ve finished cleaning.

Solution: Inspect your mower to identify the source of the leak. It could be residual water from cleaning, but if it’s fuel or oil, you’ll need to address that immediately. Check if any hoses are loose or if the mower needs new gaskets.

Remember, when in doubt, consult your owner’s manual or consider seeking professional advice. Learning how to clean a lawn mower is a process, and it’s okay to ask for help along the way. With these troubleshooting tips in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any bumps on the road to a cleaner, more efficient lawn mower.


You’ve made it to the finish line! Now that you’ve diligently followed this comprehensive guide on how to clean a lawn mower, you’re well-prepared to keep your trusty machine in tip-top shape. Remember, regular cleaning isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s an investment in the performance, longevity, and safety of your mower. From tackling the exterior to getting into the nitty-gritty of the blades, air filter, carburetor, and spark plug, you’ve left no stone unturned.

And should you ever encounter bumps along the way, our troubleshooting tips have got you covered. Challenges are part and parcel of any maintenance task, but with the right knowledge and tools, there’s nothing you can’t handle.

Here’s to simpler, more effective mowing ahead. Your well-maintained mower will not only thank you but will also ensure your lawn is the envy of the neighborhood. So go ahead, take a moment to admire both your clean mower and the beautiful lawn it helps you maintain. You’ve earned it!


The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you use the mower and the conditions in which it operates. However, a good rule of thumb is to give it a thorough cleaning at least once or twice during the mowing season, and definitely before storing it away for the winter.

While mild soap and water usually suffice for most parts, make sure to read the user manual or consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to know which cleaning agents are safe for your specific model.

It is highly recommended to remove the blades for a thorough cleaning, especially if there’s significant build-up of grass clippings and dirt. Just make sure to follow safety precautions when doing so.

Foam air filters can often be cleaned and reused, while paper filters should be replaced. Always inspect the condition of the air filter to decide whether it needs cleaning or replacing.

While power washers can be effective in removing stubborn grime, they can also force water into areas where it shouldn’t go, like the engine or electrical parts. Use caution and consult your user manual to see if this method is recommended for your particular model.

Double-check that you’ve reattached all components correctly, especially the spark plug and air filter. Also, make sure all safety features are engaged. If you still experience issues, consult the troubleshooting section or your user manual for more guidance.

Turning your mower on its side can be risky, especially if you haven’t first drained fluids like oil and gasoline. Always refer to the user manual for the safest way to access hard-to-reach areas of your mower.

Basic tools like a screwdriver, wrench, and cleaning supplies like soap and water are generally sufficient. However, certain tasks like blade sharpening will require specialized tools.

Disconnecting the spark plug ensures that the mower can’t accidentally start while you’re working on it, providing an essential safety measure.

You can, but it’s not necessary. If you do decide to paint it, make sure to use rust-proof paint and to avoid painting any functional components like the blades or engine parts.