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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

Cleaning your air filter is an important step to ensure your lawn mower engine works as it should. Without proper cleaning and regular oil changes, your engine will clog up and overheat, potentially cause it to stop working.

If you don’t know how to clean lawn mower air filter, take a look at these steps below. They are far easier than what you think! Before getting started, it is very important that you remember to wear gloves at all times during this process. 


A lawn mower’s air filter prevents dirt and grass clippings from entering the engine. Because of its purpose, it is a dirty job and you will be working around oil and gasoline. With gloves on, your hands are free from dirt and greasiness.

Types of Air Filters

First, you have to figure out what type of air filter your lawn mower uses. Let’s take a look at the two general types.

Disposable Air Filters

These don’t require any cleaning. Instead, you just throw them away after each usage. It might be the easier choice and yet a more expensive route! Paper filters should be replaced once per season or after 300 operating hours.

  • Pleated paper air filters are the most common type of disposable air filters. They come in several different designs.

Reusable Air Filters

Cleaning is an indispensable part when using these filters. The company usually oils it lightly to prevent dirt from entering the actual filter.

You should clean the foam filters when you’ve used your lawn mower for 25 operating hours. However, if you live in a dusty area, they should be cleaned even before that time.

  • Foam filters are made to fit right into the shape of the specific compartment in your lawn mower. Many foam filters need a coat of oil.
  • Dual element air filters are a two-stage design with an outer foam portion and an inner pleated core.

How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

Chances are your owner’s manual has specific instructions about cleaning and maintaining your air filter. Before following these listed below steps, you need to compare them to which in your owner’s manual.

It should also include a recommended cleaning schedule for your specific model. One thing to remember is that if the washing doesn’t get the air filter clean, you may need to purchase a new one.

You can find air filters at your local home improvement store. Even reusable air filters will need occasionally replaced to ensure correct performance.

  1. First, you need to remove the air filter from its housing. An air filter is usually close to the top of the engine, inside a metal or plastic housing. It will be secured with a screw or a snap fitting.

    Before you do this, make sure to turn off your lawn mower. Otherwise bad things could happen! You also need to pull the spark plug and cool down your engine a little bit if you just finished cutting grass.
  2. Once it is removed, the most important step is to wash the air filter in the sink. Because filters are undoubtedly dirty, it would be best not to do this in your porcelain white bathroom sink.

    You need soap and a lot of warm water. Don’t pick just any soap. You need soap that will cut through all of the greases, but companies don’t typically recommend a heavy soap because it won’t wash out fully. Continue to wash and rinse it until the water is running out clear.
  3. After washing the filter, use a paper towel or washcloth to get as much of the water out as possible. With the damp filter, it is a perfect environment for the growth of mold and mildew.
  4. With this step, you must check your owner’s manual. Some models vary. You might need to put oil on different types of filters. There are some newer models that require non-oiled filters.

    If you have to add oil, you only need about a spoonful. Don’t drown your filter in oil! Then, using a paper towel, blot off the excess.
  5. Once you think the filter is ready to go back into the lawn mower, simply put the filter back in place and close the housing.

Lawn Mower Air Filter Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my lawn mower air filter?

You should clean your lawn mower air filter at least once per season, or more frequently if you mow in dusty or dirty conditions. For domestic lawn keepers, once a year is usually enough, but checking more regularly is better.

Can I clean my lawn mower air filter with water?

You can clean your lawn mower air filter with water. However, it's important to let it dry completely before reinstalling it, and never attempt to clean any mower parts with water while it’s running.

How do I know if my lawn mower air filter needs cleaning?

If you notice decreased engine power, increased fuel consumption, or a dirty air filter, it's probably time to clean or replace your lawn mower air filter.

Can I reuse my lawn mower air filter after cleaning it?

You can reuse your lawn mower air filter after cleaning it as long as it still looks in condition. However, if it's damaged, excessively dirty, or more than 2 years old, it may be time to replace it.

More lawn mower tips: 

Now You Know How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

Learning how to clean lawn mower air filter is an important piece of knowledge. An air filter is your engine’s protection against all of the dirt, grime and grass clippings that could clog your engine and destroy your lawn mower.

Without a well-maintained air filter, your lawn mower will not run the same. It is a wise idea that you keep track of the maintenance you perform on your lawn mower. You will always know when an oil or air filter change is nearing.

With these tips on how to clean lawn mower air filter, your lawn mower should run like new for years to come.

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About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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