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How to Clean Your Lawn Mower By Yourself at Home According to Landscaping Experts

Plus, how it can help extend the life of a mower.

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While the state of the underside of your lawn mower might be the farthest thing from your mind, it turns out giving the blades occasional TLC can go a long way toward helping the machine work more efficiently — and make the chore of mowing easier, to boot! Best of all, you don’t need to call in the pros to do it. Here, how to clean your lawn mower by yourself at home.

How does a lawn mower get dirty?

As you operate your lawn mower, all sorts of debris like dirt, tiny bits of leaves, cut-up grass and so on are tossed onto the underside of the machine by the spinning blades.

“That debris can get into places like the engine compartment, air filters and under the mower deck (i.e. the area the blade spins in), just to name a few,” explains Gavin Warwick of Boise Landscaping Company. “Not only can a blocked or gummed-up engine or air filter cause your mower to seize or overheat, if wet grass and mud accumulate under the mower deck, they can interfere with the movement of the blades, forcing the engine to work harder to spin them and damaging the blades themselves. Over time, excess buildup can also cause the battery to drain faster and more often, shortening its lifespan, as well.”

Last, if wet mud and grass are allowed to constantly sit on your mower’s blades and other metal parts, it can cause corrosion and rust.

Related: How to Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades on Your Own to Save Time And Money: Pro Landscapers Weigh In

Why cleaning your lawn mower matters

Man removing grass out of lawn mower box in garden, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/Getty

Simply put: regular mower maintenance can help keep it out of the shop — and extend its life.

“How much life varies depending on the quality of your lawn mower, but you can get upwards of an extra 5-10 years of life out of your mower, which is a pretty big savings,” says Warwick. “I know clients whose mowers started to fall apart after just a few years, while we’ve had ones that lasted more than a decade, so regular cleaning really does make a difference.”

Related: How to Stop Weed Eater String From Breaking! Plus How to Change It on Your Own With Ease

How often do you need to clean your lawn mower?

To prevent long-term damage to your mower, it’s best to clean it two or three times a year — at the start of mowing season, mid-summer and then at the end before you hibernate the machine for the winter. You may need an extra session or two if you have an extremely large yard or you’ve mowed when your yard was muddy or wet.

How to clean your lawn mower by yourself

First, it’s important to disconnect the spark plug to ensure safety. This video shows how around the 40-second mark:

“Then, tip the mower on its side — it’s best to do this while the mower is empty of fuel so you don’t spill any,” says Scott McLeod, owner of McLeod Landscaping, Inc .“Always wear gloves and make sure the mower is cool before starting.”

Now for the good news: You won’t need to spend money on any special products or tools to keep your mower gleaming.

“Regular dish soap, water and a cloth rag, sponge or soft-bristle scrub brush will suffice for cleaning off dirt and plant materials,” says Warwick. “Just fill a bucket with water, add a few squirts of soap and use your tool of choice to wipe down the whole underside of the machine, including under the blades. For rust, you can soak a rag in white vinegar (its acids dissolve grime), wrap the rag around the rusty spot, leave it for about an hour, then wipe it off.”

Another option: Rinse debris loose with a hose, then use a paint stirrer to scrape remaining gunk. It will help “scrub” it loose. 

When you’re done cleaning, rinse thoroughly and let the machine dry before reconnecting the spark plug — now it’s ready to tackle your lawn again!


For more gardening tips, click through the links below!

How to Stop Weed Eater String From Breaking! Plus How to Change It on Your Own With Ease

How to Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades on Your Own to Save Time And Money: Pro Landscapers Weigh In

How to Repel Wasps: Pest Pros Recommend the Plants + Household Products That Work Best

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