It’s important to maintain your push mower regularly to prevent problems down the road as well as make it easier to do cleanups when the time comes.
Another important thing when cleaning your push mower is to actually read the owner’s manual. The manufacturer will give you key cleaning and maintenance advice that is specific to your mower, which brings me to my next topic: preventing fuel spills.
You have to turn your push mower on its side to clean it thoroughly, but before you do that, you have to make the necessary preparations. This mainly involves securing the fuel tank to prevent spills either by emptying it or some other means. Your mower’s manufacturer will tell you their tested and approved method of doing this, and it’s highly important you follow it to not only for your safety but also so that the company will make good on any warranty claims you may have in the future. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.
Knowing when to clean and when to replace
There are a lot of components on your standard push mower, and for those of us not mechanically inclined, it can often be overwhelming learning how to maintain them all. Some of these components can be cleaned (quite easily) while others that get dirty must be replaced in order for your mower to function properly and live a full lifespan.
Here is a list of things you should replace instead of clean:
- Spark plugs: When they get dirty, swap them out for new ones
- Paper air filters: Some mowers have cleanable paper air filters (that can be cleaned with low-pressure compressed air); most residential mowers have disposable paper air filters, however, and those should be replaced with brand new ones
- Damaged blades: Any blade that exhibits damage or wornness beyond simple dulling should be replaced; a faulty blade could end up causing larger problems for your push mower down the line
- Rusty components: There shouldn’t be any rust or corrosion in or on your mower, barring any small places where paint has chipped on the exterior; replace any rusted components—especially blades and interior components
- Oil: At the end of the mowing season, you need to drain the oil and replace it with new, clean oil—do not simply top it off with more oil
How to clean your push mower’s air filter
There are two types of air filters on lawnmowers: plastic foam and paper. While high-quality lawnmowers may have paper filters that are cleanable with compressed air, the standard residential push mower’s paper air filter should generally be replaced instead of cleaned. They will likely get dirty a few times during the mowing season, so buy spares if you don’t want to keep running to the hardware store.
Plastic foam filters are designed to be cleaned and reused, in contrast to the paper filters on residential mowers. Wash your plastic foam filter with mild soap and warm water (not hot and not too cold either) and make sure it’s completely dry before placing it inside your lawn mower.
How to clean out your push mower’s grass catcher
Cleaning out your mower’s grass catcher (or grass bag, hopper, etc.) is something you should do on a regular basis. Fortunately, it’s very easy to accomplish.
For fabric or other textile-type grass catchers, empty them out in the usual way. If detachable, detach them and shake lose any stubborn debris. Some of these types of grass catchers can be thoroughly cleaned with water and mild detergent; refer to your owner’s manual for the best method if more extensive cleaning is needed.
For plastic grass catchers, empty them as usual, and detach them if they are detachable. Plastic grass catchers are the easiest to clean, because they don’t have any porous areas that debris can dig into and hide. To give your plastic grass catcher a thorough cleaning, rinse it with warm soapy water and let it dry thoroughly before reattaching it.
How to clean your push mower’s cutting deck
Cleaning your push mower’s cutting deck is absolutely essential and will need to be done at least once a season, but ideally twice or as needed.
Refer to your owner’s manual to find out the best way to prevent fuel spillage. Typically, it will involve emptying the tank, but there are other methods; always use the method your manufacturer recommends.
Once your fuel tank is secured and any other necessary prep work is completed, turn your mower on its side per your manufacturer’s instructions to get access to the underside of the cutting deck. There, you should see the blades and all the debris that has accumulated under the cutting deck over the mowing season.
If only light cleaning is required, simply spray your cutting deck with a standard hose. (DO NOT power wash it as this can cause damage.) If there is dust involved, scrub it off with a whisk brush or soft cloth ahead of time. If more intensive cleaning is needed, use mild soap and warm water to clean off the deck. Let the deck dry completely before storing your lawnmower to prevent rusting.
For caked on mud and debris, start by loosening everything up with a hose (not a power washer). Once everything is a bit looser, take a standard putty knife and scrape off any caked-on debris, taking care not to scrape your blades or your deck in the process. Follow the regular cleaning directions to finish up and let dry.
How to clean your push mower’s exterior
Start by painting over any chips on your push mower’s exterior and let dry thoroughly to prevent rusting. This is an essential step for mower maintenance because rust will degrade the exterior if left unchecked.
Wash your push mower with a mild detergent and a standard garden hose. Use non-abrasive cloths to clean off any debris. Once you’re finished, let dry thoroughly before storage for best results.