How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter featured photo

Lawn mowers are hard-working machines and so are the air filters inside them. However, when those air filters get dirty and clogged over time, the engine’s performance may suffer. It can also lead to higher fuel consumption, or worse damaged engines, which entails costly repairs.

Cleaning your lawn mower’s air filter is important in making sure that it stays running smoothly. Doing regular inspections and upkeep helps extend the lifespan of your lawn mower and improves its efficiency.

But not all lawnmowers have the same type of air filters. Some have either a paper filter or a foam, while others feature a hybrid or a combination of the two.

Below, we’ll show you the easiest ways to clean those different types of air filters. We’ll also provide you with some tips as well as things to avoid when cleaning your air filter.

How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

Cleaning an air filter does not involve any special skills. But you may need to know how to check the component to decide whether all it needs is cleaning or replacement. For paper air filters, follow our easy step-by-step guide below.

Tools You’ll Need:

Step 1: Remove the Spark Plug Wire.

Before you begin the cleaning process, you must first turn off the engine and all of its moving parts and allow the machine to cool down. Then, find the spark plug, then unplug the wire that’s connected to it. This step is crucial for your safety because it prevents the engine from starting accidentally as you inspect it.

Step 2: Take Out the Air Filter From Its Case.

Mowers engines have a detachable plastic filter housing cover on the top for the air filter. You may also find it on either side of the engine. This case houses the air filter and you must take it out.

Most air filter covers can be detached by hand. But if it’s fixed with bolts, carefully unthread them and set the bolts aside for reinstallment. Next, carefully remove the air filter from the housing and set it aside. 

Step 3: Clean the Filter Case.

Make sure to shield your engine’s air inlet before starting the cleaning process. Stuff a clean, dry shop rag into the input port, leaving enough of the cloth hanging out to easily pull out when you’re through. This step is crucial because it keeps junk out of your carburetor as you clean the air filter.

After that, clean the air filter casing. You can do this by blasting any debris or dirt from the inside of the housing with an air pump and spray nozzle.

Step 4: Clean the Air Filter.

But first, pay close attention to the paper pleats. If they’re mildly dirty, then you need to clean them. But keep in mind that caked-in dirt and discoloration on the paper air filter can’t be removed by simply cleaning. In this case, you should replace it with a new air filter.

Now, it’s time to clean the filter. You can start by tapping out the filter on any flat surface. But don’t do it too hard that you break the air filter.

Then, using an air gun, carefully blow from the backside of the filter, then blow across the front side to dislodge any loose dirt and any debris that’s inside. Avoid blowing directly at its surface, since this will shove dirt further into the air filter.

Step 5: Re-Install!

After cleaning the filter, check it for any damage. It’s easier to see tears in the paper pleats when it’s clean.

Do you see any holes or tears? If you do, then you must discard it and get a new filter. But if everything seems to be in order, you can re-install your cleaned air filter on the lawn mower.

Before reinstalling or installing the filter, take out the rag you pushed into the air inlet. Next, replace the air filter housing cover, reconnect the spark plug wire, and you’re set!


Keep in mind that lawn mower filters come in different types, sizes, and shapes. And they all serve an important function, which helps the engine carry out the precise combustion process.

Some lawn mower models have foam filters that require oiling, while others have paper filters. There are also multi-filter lawn mowers. These mowers include both the foam that serves as a pre-filter and a main filter that’s made of paper. 

Make sure to find an air filter that suits your machine. It’s also best that you consult the owner’s handbook for recommendations.

Cleaning a Lawn Mower Foam Air Filter

Cleaning a Lawn Mower Foam Air Filter

Cleaning foam air filters entails a different approach. The good news is that they are far more durable and can withstand thorough cleaning. These filters capture most of the larger debris before it gets to the main filter. Because they are pre-filters, they tend to get dirty quickly.

The cleaning procedure begins with detaching the spark plug and allowing it to cool before continuing with the cleaning. Then, take out the foam from the engine. Follow our simple step-by-step guide below on how to clean the foam filter on a lawn mower.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Wash basin or sink
  • Air compressor
  • Spray degreaser or liquid soap

Step 1: Spray a Cleaning Solution.

But before you do, make sure to blow off any debris on the filter with the air gun. Don’t blow too hard to not cause damage to the foam.

Then, spray the filter degreaser, covering the entire surface of the foam. Let the solution soak in for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use dish soap and warm water and let soak in the sink or basin.

Step 2: Rinse Off.

Rinse it off under running water, getting rid of the dirt, and degreaser or soap. If it’s still dirty, you can repeat steps 1 and 2.

Step 3: Let It Dry.

After the rinse, make sure to squeeze out as much water as you can. But do so without damaging the foam filter. Then, let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 4: Reinstall!

Inspect the foam filter and look for any signs of damage. If it’s your main filter, make sure it doesn’t have any holes and tears. But, if it’s a pre-filter, a few tiny holes should be fine, however, you need to keep in mind that anything that passes through your pre-filter can damage the main filter.

If everything is looking good, reinstall the foam filter and your mower will be ready to take on the job again!

The Don’ts of Cleaning a Lawn Mower Air Filter

When it comes to cleaning your lawn mower air filter, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid causing more harm than good to your filters. When cleaning the air filter on a lawn mower, avoid the following:

  • Don’t clean a paper filter the same way you would with fabric filters.
  • Don’t clean the filters to make them look clean. Clean them to improve their performance.
  • Don’t clean the foam filters with gasoline or fuel. These are engine oils and can dissolve the foam material.
  • Don’t try foam filters using high-pressure air or a compressed air gun. This could also damage the foam.
  • Never reuse an outdated or defective filter. It’s inefficient and will not filter air properly, which can damage the engine.


Why Should I Clean Your Lawn Mower Air Filter?

When the air filter is clogged and dirty, it can limit airflow to the engine, making it work harder and less efficiently. Lawnmower engines require an air-fuel ratio (AFR) of about 14.7:1. You can help keep it up at this precise ratio when the filter is clean.

Even a mildly dirty filter can cause higher fuel consumption, a reduction in power, and perhaps even engine damage.

It’s also not always apparent whether the air filter needs to be cleaned. However, if the mower refuses to start, emits black smoke, or overheats, it may be time to get it checked. Those are issues you should be aware of.

How Often Should I Clean a Lawn Mower Air Filter?

On average, a lawn mower air filter should be cleaned after 25 hrs of operation, or at least once a year. For paper filters, you can replace them once a year or after 300 hours. Using your lawn mower in a dusty environment will require more regular cleaning and replacement. 

Check the manufacturer recommendations for your specific model, as every filter and every lawn mower model is a little different.

Can I Wash My Lawn Mower Air Filter?

Yes, you can wash a lawn mower air filter. You can wash it in a wash basin or bin, or use a garden hose. Make sure to allow the filter to completely dry before reinstalling.

What Is the Best Way To Clean an Air Filter on a Lawn Mower?

It’s usually a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean a lawn mower air filter. But if you don’t have access to the manual, you can follow the easy steps we’ve outlined above.

What Happens if a Lawn Mower Air Filter Is Dirty?

Besides engine damage, a clogged or dirty air filter can end up causing the engine to overheat, run inefficiently, and pollute the environment. It could also pose a fire hazard.

Your Turn!

A clean lawn mower air filter can enhance the efficiency and lifespan of your machine. And we hope you found this guide helpful in how to properly clean your filters. Make sure to do a regular inspection and upkeep to keep it running smoothly.

Got any more questions regarding the cleaning process? Leave us a message and we would be glad to help!