How To Clean A Lawn Mower Air Filter?

Your lawn mower engine works perfectly when the air filter stands fit like a soldier, not letting the debris and dirt invade and interfere with the engines’ performance. Placed between the carburetor and the engine, the air filter is a vital part of your mower. But what happens when the air filter gets dirty?

Your engine gets exposed to grime that lowers its performance, eventually leaving you with an unkempt lawn. Not to mention that a dirty engine reduces the life of your mower, making it more susceptible to frequent repairs and replacements, in turn burning a hole in your pocket.

So what can you derive from the above discussion? The answer is simple. You need to make sure that your mower air filter always stays clean.

But how do you go about cleaning the lawn mower air filter? Is the process tedious and expensive? Can you do it yourself, or will you need to pay to hire an expert?

If you have any such doubts lingering in your mind, relax and read through this article.

Cleaning a Lawn Mower Air Filter


The air filter asks for regular maintenance as a general rule. Cleaning the filter after 25 operating hours and replacing the filter after 300 working hours works the best. A clean air filter improves the engine performance, whereas a dirty one deteriorates the work quality. Also, if your lawn is covered in debris, then you need to be even more particular about maintaining the air filter.

Cleaning the air filter is beneficial because it is the first line of defense against dirt when you operate your mower. It improves performance and your mowers life, minimizing any short and long-term issues. Air filters come in varied styles, and you will typically find them on the top of the engine covered with a plastic or a metal shroud that is secured with a snap fitting or with a screw.

Before we delve into the air filter cleaning mechanism, here is a fact. There are two types of air filters, namely foam air filters and dual air filters.

Cleaning the Foam Air Filter

The foam air filter is further divided into a disposable air filter and a reusable air filter. Here are the cleaning tools that you will need.


  • Paper towel to wipe
  • Liquid soap to clean grease
  • Water
  • Motor oil
  • Cleaning brush

To Clean the Disposable Foam Air Filter

  • Move the lawn mower to a flat surface to give you the convenience of working. Now activate the parking mode, after which you need to disconnect the power cable from the battery.
  • Find out where the filter housing is and remove its top cover.
  • Pull out the air filter and then install a new one. Ensure to check the owner’s manual to note the correct air filter size.
  • Fit the filter housing in its previous position.
  • Reconnect the power cable to the battery and switch off the parking mode.

To Clean the Reusable Foam Air Filter

  • Keep the lawn mower on a flat surface and activate its parking mode.
  • To prevent the risk of electrification, disconnect the power cable from the battery.
  • Find out where the filter housing is and remove its top cover.
  • Take out the air filter and rinse it with water. Put some liquid soap to scrub out the grease from the filter.
  • Completely remove water after you clean the filter. This can be done using a paper towel. You may have to wipe it several times to remove the water.
  • Spray a little amount of motor oil on both sides of the air filter. Take care not to apply excess oil as this will end up damaging the filter. Excess oil will let out black smoke when the mower engine starts. If you have accidentally applied extra oil then use a paper towel to wipe it off.
  • Replace the air filter and its housing.
  • Connect the power cable to the battery and deactivate the parking mode. Your mower is ready for use.

Cleaning the Dual Air Filter 

If your lawn mower is equipped with a dual air filter, then here are the steps to follow.

  • Move the lawn mower to a flat surface or a garage to ensure work convenience.
  • Activate the lawn mower parking mode and disconnect the power cable from the battery.
  • Locate where the air filter housing is and remove the cover top.
  • ou will spot a paper cartridge that is attached to the air filter. Remove the filter paper from the cartridge and pull it out. Never use an air compressor to clean the air filter as it is likely to damage the filter.
  • Before you start the cleaning, go through the owner’s manual to check if any oil or soap could damage the filter. If there seems to be a problem, then replacing the filter is a better option.
  • If using soap and oil causes no problem, fill the water in a bucket and soak the filter in water for some time. Now use some liquid soap to thoroughly rinse the filter, which will remove grease from the filter. Take care when you wash the air filter so that it does not get damaged.
  • After the air filter is washed, use a paper towel and nicely wipe the filter so that there is no drop of water left on the filter.
  • Spray some motor oil on both sides of the air filter. Make sure not to apply a lot of oil as it could damage the filter. Use a paper towel to wipe the filter and to remove any excess oil.
  • Use a cleaning brush to clean the compartments of the air filter. You can now proceed to install the air filter in its position with a paper cartridge. Then go ahead and replace the cover on the housing of the air filter.
  • Connect the battery and the power cable and deactivate the parking mode.
  • Your lawn mower air filter is now ready to fight the debris and protect the engine.

Things to Keep in Mind

A clogged air filter reduces your lawn mower’s performance. The steps listed above let you clean the air filter yourself. However, before you begin the steps, read through these points mentioned below to ensure no mistakes.

  • Do not use any solvent washing materials to clean the foam air filters.
  • Always go through the user manual to understand the proper instructions for cleaning the air filter. Do a lot of research as not all makes and models have the exact mechanism.
  • Cross-check to see that the lawn mower is disconnected from the power source. The moving parts like the engine should be shut off. Disconnect the mower and wait for some time to let all its moving parts stop.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire before you begin work. The spark plug turns the engine on, and when you disconnect it you are sure that the mower is safe to work with.
  • Disposable paper air filters are easy to deal with. All that you have to do is to remove the old one and replace a new one in its position. You, however, will need a new paper filter when you are halfway through the cleaning process. So always keep some spare filters with you.
  • In the majority of mowers, you will first have to unscrew the air filter and then clean it from the inside. Make sure to get the right kind of screw for the job before you begin the process.
  • It is an excellent practice to keep a container or a bowl to place the screws in it so that you do not misplace it.

The Final Verdict

Cleaning the lawn mower air filter is not a daunting task. However, it can be overwhelming when you find yourself stuck in the middle of your task, having to deal with a machine dying on you.

Rest assured that even though the situation looks panicking, you can solve the problem without any hassle. Follow the steps listed above to clean the air filter and keep your lawn mower clean and safe. Within no time, you will find yourself whistling away through your yard with your lawn mower.

Also read, what size lawn mower do I need? A complete guide!

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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