How to Clean a Lawn Mower Air Filter

Should You Clean Your Lawnmowers Air Filter or Replace It? This guide takes you step by step to checking and cleaning your lawn mowers air filter.

Having an optimally functioning lawn mower air filter means that the machine can do its job excellently.

Moreover, it will serve you for long before you have to think about replacing it. Your lawn mower air filter is responsible for preventing grass clippings, dirt, and other debris from getting to your engine.

If these foreign objects get to the engine, they may result in excess or the premature wear of the engine and a reduction in its power.

Fortunately, the air filter is a component that you can easily clean from home without having to get a qualified technician.

Do air filters from all lawn mowers need cleaning?

There are different lawn mowers available in the market, but all have either disposable air filters or reusable foam air filters.

The former is constructed from special paper, and while you can clean it with compressed air, it’s best that you replace it with a new air filter.

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This article will be focusing on both disposable paper air filters and reusable form air filters. Some lawn mowers have a foam air filter system which only consists of the form air filter.

Others have a dual-element air filter system comprising both the disposable paper air filter and a foam filter.

How regularly should you clean your lawn mower air filter?

In either case, it’s recommended that you clean the foam air filter and replace the paper air filter after every 25 hours of using your lawn mower.

As a beginner, the whole operation will take about an hour, of which you will be spending an estimated 15 minutes cleaning the air filter.

What do you need?

a) Tools/equipment

  • Safety gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Wash bin/sink
  • Paper towels or clean, dry cloths/rags

b) Materials

  • Liquid dish detergent
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of engine oil
  • Replacement filter (if you have a dual-element air filter system)

Step by step guide on how to clean a lawn mower air filter:

Step 1: Turn off the mower

Turn off the mower’s engine and wait for about 10 minutes for any hot parts to cool down. Keep in mind that if you rush to handle the engine part of the mower without letting it cool down, you risk getting burned. Moreover, desist from operating the mower without air filters.

Step 2: Detach the spark plug

Once the lawnmower has cooled down, go ahead and detach the spark plug and proceed to remove the air filter cover.

Step 3: Unfasten the air filter shroud

Proceed to unfasten the screws or disengage the clips that attach the air filter protective shroud to the lawn mower.

The protective cover can be made of plastic or metal, and you can quickly find it by looking around the top of the engine.

Step 4: Take out the air filter

Take the air filter out of its holding bracket and inspect it. Note that there are different things to look for when inspecting a paper air filter compared to a foam air filter.

For paper air filters, start by rubbing the flat surface to remove any loose dirt or debris. Hold the filter against bright light and check how much light can get through.

If the paper filter blocks a considerable amount of light, you shouldn’t try to clean it any further but instead replace it with a new one.

In the case of a foam air filter, examine for telltale signs of yellow or brown staining and the foam crumbling. If you can spot these signs on the filter, you should be replacing them, not cleaning them.

Otherwise, it’s okay to go on and clean the filter.

You may find that your lawn mower has a hybrid air filter with a foam pre-cleaner. You should check your mower’s user manual for the manufacturer’s guidance on how to clean the hybrid air filter.

However, if you cannot access the user manual, inspect the foam pre-cleaner for signs of brittleness, stiffness, and significant stains.

You should replace the foam pre-cleaner if it has these signs; if not, go ahead and clean it like a foam air filter but with more gentleness.

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Step 5: Clean the form filter

Add water to a wash bin and wash the foam filter to get rid of the dirt. You can also use water from a garden hose to push out the dirt and debris from the foam filter.

Once done, place clean water in the wash bin and add liquid dish detergent.

The dish detergent will break down the grease and remove any stubborn dirt still stuck in the foam filter.

Squeeze the soapy water out of the foam filter and embark on rinsing it thoroughly with clean water. Continue rinsing the foam filter with clean water and squeezing it out until you notice it has no more soap.

Use paper towels or clean rugs to squeeze out as much excess water from the foam filter as you can.

Step 6: Let the foam filter dry

Let the form sit in an open space under the sun to dry. This can take about 40 minutes. You can fasten the drying by blowing moderately hot air through the foam filter using a blow dryer.

Avoid setting the blow drier to high heat as this will likely damage the filter.

Step 7: Apply engine oil to the filter

Once the foam filter is bone dry, it’s time to apply engine oil on it. Place the on the foam and gently massage it in.

Try to ensure that the engine oil is distributed well across the filter. Avoid adding excess oil as this can later drip on the mower.

Alternatively, you can place the foam filter in a plastic bag and add in oil. Massage the plastic bag until the foam soaks up the oil excellently.

If you think that you have used excess oil, tap it out with a clean paper towel.

Step 8: Reinsert the air filter

Before you reinsert the filter, try to clean the air filter bracket. You should use a clean, dry cloth for this – making sure that you get rid of any dirt or debris that might be trapped there.

Avoid using compressed air as this will likely push the debris into the delicate parts of the engine. After doing the cleaning, reinsert the air filter, ensuring that it fits snugly into the bracket.

Step 9: Reattach the shroud and spark plug

Once the foam air filter is sitting in place, reattach the protective shroud. Do this with care so that it doesn’t pinch the air filter.

When the protective cover is in place, reattach the spark plug, and your lawn mower is ready to start mowing.