How to clean your lawn mower

You can’t avoid your lawn mower getting dirty, but you can make a habit of keeping it clean for top performance that lasts.

A woman looking at the underside of a STIHL RMA 339C cordless lawn mower

Why you should clean your lawn mower

Your lawn mower is a hardworking tool: from spring to autumn it regularly gets put to work cutting the grass, and may be in use for hours at a time. It’s inevitable that your mower will accrue dirt and plant residue on the cutting blade and other parts, and this will soon impair its cutting ability if ignored. Giving your mower a quick clean after every use helps maintain a consistently good cutting result, while an occasional deep clean will contribute to keeping your lawn mower in service for a long time.

Safety first

Safety should always come first when cleaning your lawn mower: make sure you wear sturdy gloves at all times. It is particularly important to wear gloves made from robust material when cleaning the cutting blade, so you are protected from cuts or other injuries.

How to clean your lawn mower after every use

Once the lawn has been mowed and the cuttings are on the compost heap, it’s important to do a quick clean before you put the lawn mower away. Dirt has a negative effect on materials and gets more stubborn the longer you leave it – not to mention that a dirty cutting blade will never work as well as a clean one. We show you the best way to tackle this kind of regular cleaning.

You will need:

  • Sturdy gloves
  • Wooden or silicone spatula
  • Brush
  • Specialised cleaning agent for stubborn dirt, e.g. STIHL Multiclean
Before you start to clean the lawn mower, make sure it is switched off and disconnected from the power supply. If you have a petrol lawn mower, take out the spark plug; for an electric lawn mower, disconnect it from the power supply; and for a cordless lawn mower, remove the battery. It is vital to make sure the lawn mower cannot be accidentally switched on.
A woman opening the cover of a STIHL RMA 339 C cordless lawn mower in front of a white house

Remove the grass collection box and clean the inside with a hand brush. You can also brush the lawn mower housing down to remove coarse dirt and grass. Next, use a damp cloth to wipe the lawn mower exterior clean, ensuring you take off caked-on dirt. It is possible to use a garden hose to clean the lawn mower, but we recommend you keep the water pressure low. High-pressure cleaners are not suitable for cleaning lawn mowers.

Next, move your lawn mower into the cleaning position; the instruction manual for your lawn mower will tell you how to do this. If you have a petrol lawn mower, make sure that the spark plug is pointing upwards, otherwise oil may run out and cause serious damage to the engine and carburettor.

Clean the underside of the lawn mower with a scraper and a brush. The scraper is great for removing rough and bulky plant residue from the blade area. Note that it is less effort to clean this part of the mower thoroughly if you do so straight after using it, as fresh dirt and plant matter comes off more easily. Carefully remove dirt from the cutting blade using a scraper or hand brush. If necessary, you can also use a specialised cleaning agent to tackle stubborn dirt.

Your quick clean is done and you can put your mower away, ready for its next use! Deeper cleaning takes a little more effort, and is an important maintenance step which should be performed after every 25 hours of use as well as following a prolonged period of storage. We take you through the steps below.

How to perform a deep clean of your lawn mower

After around 25 hours of use, you should give your lawn mower a deep clean. This may be necessary earlier or later in the mowing season, depending on the intensity of the work and how you use your mower. It is important to remember that regular cleaning makes maintenance easier – and regular maintenance will extend the service life of your lawn mower.

How to clean a lawn mower: winter storage

Deep cleaning and maintenance often gets tackled just before your lawn mower is put away for winter storage. We’ve put together a detailed guide telling you how to winterise your lawn mower.

Cleaning tips for different lawn mower types

Cleaning a petrol lawn mower The combustion engine causes dirt to make its way into the air filter and spark plug. Petrol models need a little more cleaning than other types of lawn mowers.
Cleaning an electric lawn mower It is best to dry clean your electric lawn mower: if you use too much water, moisture could get inside the electric motor and damage it.
Cleaning a cordless lawn mower When you clean a cordless lawn mower, battery care is also important. Make sure it is stored correctly, in a dry location at cool, but not freezing, temperatures.

 Summary: how to clean a lawn mower

  • You should give your lawn mower a quick general clean with a brush and scraper after every use.
  • It will need more intensive care after every 25 hours of use. This involves giving your mower a thorough clean and checking the condition of the blade: are there any cracks or other changes in the material?
  • You should also regularly clean and inspect the air filter and spark plug of your lawn mower.
  • Winterise your lawn mower at the end of the season by cleaning it thoroughly and taking care of key maintenance before storage.