How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter ( Learn How Can You Maintain Your Lawn Mower’s Main Defense Mechanism )

 Key Takeaway

  • Before you proceed with cleaning the lawn mower air filters, remember to switch the engine off and allow it to cool down. 
  • Identify the type of air filter (paper, hybrid or foam) your mower has.
  • Clean the foam air filter using hot water and gentle liquid soap and once it dries completely, saturate the filter with engine oil. 
  • Change the air filter if it’s extremely clogged and decayed. 
  • It is crucial to keep the air filters clean to prevent issues of engine’s overheating

When you invest in a premium lawn mower, you would least expect it to develop problems that intervene with your lawn tasks. The most common problem faced on the lawn mowers-be it a push mower or a riding mower, is an engine issue and the common issue among the engine problems is the engine’s overheating. 

That is when, it becomes crucial to keep the air filters of the engine in check. It is the dirty, clogged or even worse, decayed filters which prevent air from reaching the engine which makes the fuel very thick and viscous. This viscous fuel is known as ‘a rich’ fuel which is responsible for overheating the engine and throwing black smoke from the exhaust. 

The repercussions of mowing the lawn when the engine has to put up with clogged filters, can be faced on almost all the brands that make lawn mowers i.e. the Cub Cadet, the Husqvarna, Ferris  , Ariens, Dixon , Simplicity etc. 

So, cleaning the air filters and maintaining their good condition is absolutely mandatory to keep the lawn mower functional. That is why, I have composed this article today to annotate about how to clean a lawn mower air filter and why should this concern be attended to as a matter of urgency. 

Hence, get ready to learn about cleaning the lawn mower air filters using simple tools and equipment. 

How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter 

So now that I have emphasised how crucial it is for the air filters to be clean, let’s understand how to go about it. 

First step in this quest of cleaning air filters is to know when you should be doing it. 

A lawn mower is a very smart machine and it speaks up loudly if the air filters are clogged with dirt, by showing some functional adversities like engine’s overheating or throwing out black soot from the exhaust. 

So how do you diagnose the need to clean or replace the air filter ? If the air filters might be moderately dirty, they can still be cleaned but if they’re just cakes up with grime and greasy dirt, cleaning them won’t serve the purpose, they better be changed with the new ones. 

How dirty is too dirty 

( Condition – Moderately Dirty/ Can Be Cleaned) 

  • Inspect the air filters of your lawn mower very closely. 
  • If it has a moderate amount of dirt on the pleats, it can still be cleaned and is not decayed. 
  • The engine performs roughly, knocks out and stalls in between operating. 

( Condition – Totally Clogged With Dirt / Needs Replacement ) 

  • There is so much dirt and grime on the filters that the pleats are barely visible.
  • The engine of your mower overheats when you operate it. 
  • The engine throws heavy black smoke from the exhaust.

Steps To Clean or Change the Lawn Mower Air Filters 

Things You May Require :

Steps To Clean or Change the Lawn Mower Air Filters 
Credit –
                      Tools                  Materials
A Bucket Safety Gloves Air Compressor ( Portable) A hose and nozzle for air spray New Air Filters, in case replacement is required1-2 tbsp of engine oil ( for foam filters)Paper towels, Clean rags, Gentle Liquid Dish Soap

Step-by-Step Instructions : 

There are different kinds of air filters you may find on your lawn mower. In this article, I have discussed the three kinds-

  1. Foam Filter
  2. Paper filter
  3. Hybrid filter 

Most of the lawn mowers have air filters made up of foam. That is why, 

( Cleaning A Foam Filter On The Lawnmower )

Step 1 : Turn the engine off: First of all, switch the mower’s engine off. Once the engine is shut off, allow the engine and other parts to cool down properly. Also, engage the parking brakes if you have a riding mower.

Turn the engine off
Do not attempt to run the lawn mower without the air filters as it can cause irreversible damage to the mower’s engine. 

Step 2: Disconnect the spark plug : Before you remove the shroud of the air filter, disconnect the wire of the spark plug, in case it’s a push mower.

Disconnect the spark plug

Step 3 : Remove the shroud : Now take a screwdriver and dismiss the screws or the clips that secure the cover of air filters. 

Remove the shroud

You’ll be able to locate it near the topside of the engine, snugly fit inside a metallic or plastic shroud that is guarded by snap fittings.

Step 4 :  Remove the air filter  : Now take the air filter out for inspection. There are three kinds of air filters you can expect on a lawn mower and you’ll have one of these on your mower:

Remove the air filter
  • If no light is able to pass through the filter, or a major percentage of light is blocked, the filter is deeply clogged and you better replace it.

Step 5 : Wash the filter : Take the foam filter out and wash it with heated water mixed with liquid soap to loosen the stubborn oily dirt. Now, take a dry paper towel to force the extra water out. Squeeze as much water as possible.

Wash the filter

Step 6 : Coating the filter with oil : Take some drops of engine oil, rolling it up to spread it evenly on the filter. Use a generous amount of oil that can just saturate the filter but do not soak the filter excessively into the oil as the filter can emit black soot in case it’s over coated with oil.

Coating the filter with oil

Step 7 : Squeeze the extra oil : If mistakenly, the filter is offered excessive oil that is dripping off it, use a paper towel to squeeze the extra oil. 

Squeeze the extra oil
Tip :  Another smart way to add the right amount of oil to the foam filter is to take a small plastic bag. Add oil into the bag and gently massage the bag to saturate the filter with the oil. After this, use a paper towel to bloat the extra oil from the filter. 

Step 8 : Clean the air filter fittings : Check the rubber gasket that is the sealing point of the filter and the carburetor and clean it as well. Inspect the gasket closely and replace it if it has any cracks or it leaks.

Clean the air filter fittings

Step 9 : Replace the filter and then, the shroud : Once the air filter is coated with engine oil liberally, replace the air filter back into place and secure it by tightening the wing-nuts. 

Replace the filter and then, the shroud

Step 10 : Connect the spark plug : After you have replaced the clean air filter, place the shroud back at its place and secure it tightly over the filter and connect the spark plug. 

Connect the spark plug

This was about cleaning the foam filters on a lawnmower. Nonetheless, if your lawnmower has any of the hybrid or a paper filter, take a look at these steps: 


  • If your lawnmower has a hybrid air filter, refer to the mower’s user manual to learn about cleaning the air filter. 
  • The hybrid foam filters have a pre-cleaner made up of foam. If the foamy pre-cleaner has become very hard or brittle, is stained, it needs to be replaced. 


If your lawnmower has a paper filter, use these steps to clean the air filters: 

  • Take the air filter and tap it gently on an even, flat surface. This will discard all the loose dirt. 
  • Now, show the air filter up against a bright source of light and examine it deeply.

So with these tips, you can easily clean the air filters of your lawnmower. As mentioned above, if the filter is extremely clogged, don’t waste time in cleaning it as it would only break it down. Replace the decayed filters with new ones. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it possible to clean the air filters of a lawn mower?

Answer – If the filters of your lawn mowers are made up of foam, wash them with warm water with a gentle soap mixture. Then, set them aside to dry out completely. But if your lawnmower has paper filters, take a clean shop rag and stuff it into the centre. 

Q2. What can happen if the air filters of my lawn mower are dirty?

Answer – If the air filters of your lawn mower are dirty, it can cause serious issues on the mower. If the carburetor and the filters remain dirty and clogged, the fuel-to-air mix in the engine becomes disproportionate and the fuel becomes viscously thick. Due to this, the engine can overheat, pollute the surroundings and can even cause a fire hazard. 

Q3. Can I use baking soda to clean the air filters of my lawnmower?

Answer – You can use baking soda to remove bad odour from the mower’s filters. Remove the filters from the mower and use a hose to clean them. Then, scatter baking soda on them to help eliminate any bad odour left after cleaning. After this, clean the filters and allow them to dry. Once dry, replace them back. 

Q4. How often should I change the air filters in my lawn mower?

Answer – The air filters prevent dust particles and other foreign materials from entering the mower’s engine. To let it perform optimally, you should be changing it at least once every three months. 


Having clean air filters is the biggest defence mechanism of a lawnmower against the dust particles, especially the airborne dust remnants. Thus, it becomes extremely crucial to maintain a good condition of the air filters so that the fuel stays fresh and the engine does not bear any issues. 

As emphasised above, it is important to know the type of air filter that your lawn mower has. It can be any of the paper filters, a hybrid filter or the foam filter. Whichever kind it may be, remember to clean the air filters regularly otherwise they may decay to the point where they can only be replaced.

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