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Can I Clean A Lawn Mower Air Filter? If So, How?

Written by William
Last Updated on April 1, 2021

Instead of spending hours searching for your lawnmower’s exact model so that you can clean its air filter, find out some universal methods that will save you a whole bunch of time and money.

Yes, you can clean your mower’s air filter and should regularly as to keep your lawnmower running healthily.

An air filter plays an important part in your lawnmower’s day to day running. As such, it is vital to know exactly how to properly clean the air filter as to not damage it in the process.

The purpose of a lawnmower’s air filter

Lawnmowers air filters are built to keep dirt and grass clippings from clogging up the engine and shortening your mower’s life span.

Therefore, if you feel that your lawnmower is not working correctly or is failing to cut grass like it usually does, then you may find that a clogged air filter is the cause of the problem.

The longer you go without unclogging it and cleaning the filter, the worst your lawnmower’s performance will get.

Not only that but if you insist on still using your mower with a dirty air filter then you will damage the filter and have to replace it.

What are the 3 types of air filter’s used in mowers?

There are three types of air filters that a manufacturer may use in their mower, but the cleaning process for them are not that different.

The types of air filters that your mower may have are:

  • Disposable foam air filter
  • Reusable air filter
  • Dual air filter

As is clear from the name, you will not need to clean the disposable foam air filter. You will need to replace it with an entirely new filter instead.

Make sure you have some spare disposable air filters to hand so that you can replace the filter whenever you may need to.

If you do attempt to clean a disposable filter, not only are you wasting your time but you may damage your mower as the filter will no longer work.

What you will need to clean an air filter

It is best to get everything you need to clean the filter together before you get to work. That way you can get the task done quicker.

You will need:

  • Liquid soap – dishwashing soap will do here, you don’t need a specialized soap for this
  • Warm water – it is better to have warm or hot water to really clean out your air filter but cold water would do the job too
  • Paper towels – to be able to properly reach every nook and cranny of your air filter without damaging it, make sure to use paper towels. They will also help absorb any water stuck in the filter which is vital
  • Motor oil – oil is a key to keeping the air filter running smoothly and should be reapplied once you have washed the filter
  • Old toothbrush – to clean less fragile parts of the filter, an old toothbrush can be used. If you have a cleaning brush, you can use that instead
  • Screwdriver – many models use some type of screws to keep the air filter in place so make sure you have the right tool to hand in order to be able to remove the filter

How to clean a reusable remove air filter for your lawnmower

Turn off your mower!!

Before you start the cleaning process, you must make sure to correctly remove the air filter to avoid any damage to yourself or the equipment.

First, make sure that your mower is disconnected from its power source. Sigh as you might at the obviousness of this step, it is commonly missed.

It may be that you need to change your air filter halfway through your grass cutting session and so you forget to disconnect the power which is a bad step to miss.

You may also find that while the mower itself is off, all of the internal parts are still moving. This is because you need to give your mower time to properly power down and stop moving after it is turned fully off.

So, don’t try and rush ahead as soon as you suspect that your air filter may need cleaning.

Give your mower time to shut down and stop moving so that you don’t lose a finger in the process.

If you are still unsure whether or not your mower has stopped moving, try disconnecting the spark plug wire.

In fact, we recommend that you do this regardless for extra safety.

Locate your air filter

Air filters are not that hard to find inside your lawnmower. They are quite large and round, usually covered by a top cover to keep the filter from falling out during your mowing.

There may also be one or two screws in place to hold the filter still. Keep these nuts and screws somewhere safe so that you can put your filter back correctly once clean.

Once you have removed the cover and unscrewed what you need to, all that you should have to do is lift the filter out and you can begin the cleaning process.

Time to wash the filter

Don’t just go ahead and dunk the filter into a tub full of water. This will not correctly clean the filter and could damage it.

Instead, put the filter in an empty tub and rinse with warm water and soap.

While you do want to avoid overdoing it with the water, you do need to make sure that the filter has been thoroughly covered in soap and then entirely rinsed with water to really cut through the grease.

Thoroughly dry

This is a key step in the cleaning process as having too much water left in your air filter could damage it and your mower.

Use the paper towels to squeeze out all of the water trapped in the air filter.

You may go through a fair few paper towels during this step, but it will be worth it to not have to replace your entire filter.

If you find that you are still removing soap from the filter even after you have rinsed it, then simply rinse with more water are start re-drying it again.

As long as you don’t drown the filter then you will avoid damaging it.

Time to oil up

Just like with the water, too much motor oil will ruin your mower but too little can stop your filter from working properly.

To get just the right amount of oil on your filter, take a paper towel and tab some motor oil onto it. Then rub the towel all over the filter so that it is covered entirely on both sides.

Note that your air filter should not be dripping oil. If you do find this is the case then use a clean paper towel to dab off the excess oil.

Replace the filter

Before you put the filter back into place, you may want to clear any excess debris from the top cover or from around where the filer will be.

This way you are ensuring that it will not get clogged up again straight away.

Once you are satisfied, slip the air filter back into place and secure the screws once more.

Make sure to make them tight enough that they will not become loose while the mower’s engine is running.

And there you have it – the easiest way to clean a reusable, foam air filter for your lawnmower.

But, as noted earlier, this is not the only type of filter manufacturers use in their mowers.

How to clean a dual air filter for your lawnmower

All of the safety steps and identifying your air filter’s location are exactly the same for a dual air filter as a reusable one. However, removing the dual filter is different.

Not only will you spot the air filter but you will also see that a cartridge is attached to it. Is it this cartridge that you need to clean, not the filter itself.

Doing so will damage the air filter and you will have to replace it entierly.

As for the cleaning process, all you need to do is follow the steps described above for cleaning a standard air filter.

Just make sure to be extra gentle and not overdo it with the water.

If you do use too much water or even too much oil, then take some time to properly dry the cartridge before replacing it.

Of course, there will come a time when your air filter is too worn down to simply clean and will need replacing.

But until that point, be sure to keep your current filter unclogged and clean to keep your lawnmower running as smooth as possible.

About the author
Written by William
I have always had a passion for gardening and that with a background in selling lawn mowers for the past 10 years, I have become very knowledgeable in all types of gardening tools. The site was created as a hub where I can review and write about all of the tips around gardening.
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