Keeping your lawn mower clean will extend the longevity and performance of your equipment. When you get done mowing you need to remove the debris from the mower. It’s always a good idea to periodically wash your mower to keep it in good working condition and looking good.
Using a Pressure Washer to Clean Lawn Mower
With the availability and affordability of pressure washers they have become standard household tools these days. A pressure washer is great to have on hand, but we must be choosy on what we use them on.
They work great for washing the sidewalk and the deck to make them look new again, but they can damage other items when used at a high pressure setting.
Is it a good idea to use a pressure washer to clean your lawn mower? It is a good idea to use a pressure washer. If you choose to use a pressure washer be careful not to run your pressure washer at a high setting and be careful washing sensitive areas of your mower like around the engine and your deck bearings.
7 Steps to Clean Your Lawn Mower
1: Remove Grass & Debris from Lawn Mower
The easiest way I have found to remove debris is by using a leaf blower. It works wonders and is very quick. Park your mower in an area outside where you don’t care if you make a mess.
Make sure you wear your safety glasses because dirt and grass will be blown all over the place and you will want to protect your eyes. Start your leaf blower and begin to blow the extra grass, dirt and leaves off of the mower.
If you don’t have a leaf blower and you have a compressor in your garage, you can use that if you have a blow gun on it. You can also you a soft brush if you don’t have a blower or compressor available. Choose a brush that will not scratch the finish of your mower.
2: Choose Washing Method & Soap
Never wash your mower while the engine is hot. It’s never a good idea to spray cold water on a hot engine. So once your engine has cooled, you can begin to wash the lawn mower.
If your pressure washer allows you to add soap to the unit, it’s a good idea to do some research on the soaps available for your pressure washer. Some soaps will be harsh on the paint and plastic on some mowers so you will want to find a mild soap that won’t harm your paint.
If your pressure washer doesn’t have a soap dispenser, you will have to manually add soap to your mower. The best thing to do is spray your mower down to get it really wet. Add soap to a wet sponge and wipe down mower.
I find a good mild dish soap with a grease cutting agent works well when wiping down manually. I like Dawn dish detergent which can be purchased at your local hardware or grocery store. Do not add dish detergent to your pressure washer.
3: Clean Top of Engine
Let’s begin our washing of the lawn mower by starting at the top of the engine and around the recoil housing. This area can take a little bit of water, but not too much. Keep the pressure low if you can.
If you can’t control the pressure just pull or step back a little bit so you’re not hitting it with full force. Move along to the side and front of the engine keeping in mind that water and the carburetor don’t mix.
4: Clean the Top of Your Mower Deck
Continue to move from the engine area to spray off the top of the deck and the wheels. Now most mowers don’t have greaseable wheels so we will need to tend to them once we get done washing the mower.
If you have a riding mower or a lawn tractor, washing the deck can be a bit tricky. The lawn mower deck will have covers on top of the deck to protect the belt that runs the blades. Washing a deck can be more temperamental than you may think because you have bearing you need to worry about.
The bearings are sealed, but not against high pressure. You want to keep water out of these specially sealed places. You shouldn’t use a pressure washer in this area. Instead, use a garden hose and rinse off the deck around the spindle housings and pulleys.
5: Clean Underneath Your Mower Deck
Cleaning the underside of the lawn mower deck is going to be the messy part of the cleanup process. You will want to do this process away from your driveway and the nice part of your yard. Find a place that will not be in your normal pathway to access your house. It’s best to find an area that is out of sight if possible.
- Push Mower – It’s not too bad to access the underside of the deck. You can set the mower front end up on a jack stand or something firm to hold the deck up so you can clean it.
- Riding Mower or Lawn Tractor – Gaining access to the deck on these mowers are a little more challenging. First, you will need to get the tractor up in the air so you can get under the deck. If you have a floor jack and jack stands this will not be too bad.
Some people will choose to get the mower up in the air using car ramps or the tailgate of a trailer. If you don’t have any of these items available, you can put the wand of a pressure washer under the deck and clean it the best you can until it is time for its next mower deck service or blade sharpening.
- Zero Turn Mower – It’ hard to get access to the underside of a zero turn mower. I use a Jungle Jim’s lift jack from Amazon to prop up my mower.
Some manufacturers place a deck washout port on their mower decks. In theory, this sounds like a nice feature, but often the port is plugged, and it is an extremely messy feature. Some homeowners like it, but many do not. If you choose to use it make sure you are using this feature away from any structures and in an area of the yard you are not going to visibly see.
To use the deck washout feature, you will hook up a garden hose to the deck and turn on the water supply. You will sit on the tractor, start it up and engage the deck. Water will be spinning off the blades as it tries to wash all the grass and dirt off from the underside of the mower deck.
While the blades are throwing the water everywhere you can imagine the water, grass and dirt are going everywhere. Be prepared for this. Some push mowers have this feature as well.
6: Rinse & Dry Off Mower
Rinse of lawn mower and let it air dry or you can use your leaf blower to dry it off. Once the mower is dry you will want to go over a few more things on your mower before you place it back in storage before your next mowing.
I like to leave my lawn mower sit outside on a nice hot sunny day to let the water evaporate by the heat and wind to help dry it out.
For more details on cleaning your lawn mower refer to our article, “How to Clean Your Mower for Best Performance“.
7: Lubricate Lawn Mower
You will want to lubricate your lawn mower to prevent rusting and erosion from occurring on your mower from water.
- Push Mower
Use WD40 or an equivalent lubricant to use on the wheel axles and cables that have gotten water in them so they don’t rust later.
- Riding Mower & Zero Turn
Use WD40 or an equivalent lubricant to us on cables and seat hinges. Grease the steering and deck before putting it away.
Routine Maintenance on Your Mower
It is necessary to perform routine services on your lawn mower. For the average homeowner, a service should be completed, at minimum, 2 times per mowing season.
If you have a large mower and you are putting a significant number of hours on your mower, make sure you change your engine oil every 50 hours. Check your owner’s manual for the correct interval for changing your hydraulic fluid if your mower requires a hydraulic filter and fluid change.
For additional information on steps you need to take to service your mower, select one of the following.