Easy tips for winterizing a lawnmower

by teddletonmr

Clean filters and other important stuff, lubricate all the parts, sharpen mower blade, and store in a safe place,

The easiest and neatest way to winterize the lawn mower requires first acquiring a sign, second a good visible spot in the yard. Selling a used mower will eliminate all the smells, and unsightly clutter in the garage satisfying our inner neat freak. After all, out of sight out of mind, right. That is of course, until spring comes once again and the grass needs mowing. Creating both the need to shop for, and buy another new lawn mower.
Thankfully, there is a better option for those of us so inclined. Follow along as we discuss the most important, easy tips for winterizing the lawnmower. Save money, our sanity and keep the mower starting easy, and continue cutting grass like new.

Winterizing a lawn mower

The pay me now, or pay me later approach to buying a mower impacts long term maintenance cost

For the fugal minded, take my dear brother-in-law for instance. When the time comes to get a new lawn mower, He rather prefers, buying the cheapest gas powered hand push mower he can find. In his mind there is no sense spending the extra money on all those add on bells and whistles. After all, who can blame him, he feels as though his money better spent on fishing tackle, and a relaxing day on the lake.


Good cheap lawn mower

$169.99  $169.00

Winterizing both the cheap and premium gas powered lawn mower is easy, inexpensive and only takes a few minutes.

The first step, read the owner’s manual. Ok, I understand, reading the small print, and finding the proper language is a pain. No matter how about start with giving the mower a good thorough cleaning, power washing underneath the deck will make the machine easier to push, and keep steel decks from rusting out. Cleaning the mower engine housing will help the mower engine keep its cool. Cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting for wear and damage the wheels and adjusters, will help keep everything working smoothly. Generally giving the mower a good cleaning will make servicing a mower much easier, and less of a messy operation.

Power washing not your thing, that’s Ok, although you really should understand and believe, dirt on the outside, will find its way into the inside of the lawn mower engine. Dirt inside the engine is a bad thing, shortening the serviceable life of the machine. 

Important stuff in the owner’s manual

Mower components warranty info, how to, and when to, service engine along with replacement part numbers.

Homeowners like you and me, and the young person looking to start-up their own lawn mowing business their focus, the manufacture employs hard working engineers to give the person with no idea how the inner workings of a lawn mower work. The basic information they need understand to safely use and maintain their new mower is in the owner’s manual. Let’s face it, the gas engine and other major components used to make a mower cut grass efficiently are a bit intimidating at times.

$8.14  $24.92

First things first, what type and how much oil is required to keep a lawn mower engine running properly, is the single most important thing to know.

Forgetting to check the oil in the crankcase is the most overlooked thing required to keep a mower engine running properly. Not only first time operators make this mistake, oh no occasionally, the old pro, expert lawn mower user forgets and makes this catastrophic failure-causing mistake. Running the motor low on oil, or forgetting to fill the crankcase with fresh clean oil in a new gas powered engine before starting it for the first time. Will simply destroy the inner workings of any 4-cycle engine, which by the way, isn’t covered under the engine warranty, “read the owners’ manual” you will be glad you did.

For those that need clear step-by-step instructions on the care and repair of a gas lawn mower engine. Do yourself a favor, buy a copy of the Briggs & Stratton small engine care and repair manual pictured in this article, it will help you.


Fuel system and fuel stabilizers’

Clean fresh gas, clean fuel tank, carburetor, and filters keep lawn mower engine easy to start

You will find the proper type fuel the engine manufacture recommends using in the owners’ manual. Many cautions the use of fuel blends that contain ethanol, the thing is, alcohol produced from corn over time will cause moisture problems in the fuel system used in both cheap L-head and premium OHV lawn mower engines.

Fast start fuel stabilizer

Only $14.99

The thing to remember, today fuels, formulated for use in automobiles, which have a non-vented fuel system evaporate and get stale in a short amount of time when used in a lawn mower engine. Causing fuel system problems affecting a mower engines’ performance, hard starting, loss of power, or even worse, not start at all when you need it most because the grass is growing like crazy.

The solution begins with treating the gas in the lawn mower fuel tank, filter, and carburetor as a perishable product with a shelf life of only 30-days from the date of purchase. The stuff really goes bad, just like a container of yogurt we forgot we had in the fridge. 



Using the Briggs & Stratton, fast start fuel stabilizer will absolutely help keep your lawn mower starting and running like new.

Alcohol fuel tester

Quick and easy method, accurately tests alcohol levels in gas.

Sharp blades cut grass instead of tearing

Properly sharpen mower blades cut better leaving the grass healthier and looking better.

Just as a dull potato peeler makes peeling potatoes a laborious task, a dull lawn mower blade makes cutting grass stressful on both the mower engine, and the person pushing the mower through tough grass. Keeping this in mind when winterizing a lawn mower, paying special attention to sharpening a dull mower blade, or replacing bent, warn out mower blades important. After all, mowing grass in the spring when the grass is growing like crazy. Starting out with a dull mower blade will tear the grass clippings from the blades of grass, rather than cut cleanly leaving an ugly mess of our otherwise beautiful turf grasses.

Before removing the blade, refer to the owners’ manual for the proper instructions for your specific model gas powered lawn mower.

Removing lawn mower blade safely

Things you should know, before sharpening or replacing a dull and damaged lawn mower blade

The best way to gain access, and remove the bolt or bolts securing the mower blade to the engine crankshaft, starts with one of the following. Tipping the mower forward leaning the handle assembly against a hook on the wall, turning the mower on the discharge chute side, or, opposite the discharge chute side, the goal here is always keep the spark plug pointed up with spark plug wire removed, not spilling gas all over the place, or leaking oil, when removing the mower blade.

The Briggs & Stratton small engine care & repair manual is full of useful tips no self-respecting handyman, or woman, interested in saving time and money should find themselves without.

Lawn mower blade sharpener

Add this lawn mower blade sharpener to your workshop save time and make money sharpening your neighbor’s mower blade.
Oregon 88-025 Lawn Mower Blade Standard Duty Grinder, 1/3 HP
$288.5  $258.57

View under lawn mower deck

Under lawn mower deck
Under lawn mower deck

Clean or replace air filters

Dirty air cleaner elements / filters foul spark plugs and make a mower hard to start.

Depending on the engine type, model, and manufacture used on a particular gas-powered lawn mower you’re winterizing.  There are two materials used to manufacture the filter element, or elements used in two stage air cleaner systems. Both, pleated paper and foam filter elements. Manufactured to meet the harshest environmental demands found in different regions of the U.S, like the hot and humid Midwest and Southeast states, or, on the other hand there are the dry semi-arid and extremely dusty conditions common to the Great Plains and Southwest United States.


Foam air filter element

Fits 3.5 & 4.5 hp Briggs & Straton lawn mower engines
$11.99  $3.29

Pleated paper air filter

Flat air filter fits Briggs & Stratton 3.5 - 6.5 hp lawn mower engine
$6.22  $3.99

The thing we should keep in mind when selecting the best replacement air filter for a mower, these air filters come in several different shapes, and sizes designed to filter large particles of dirt, and fine dust. All fit the same model engine, only the environment requires a different level of air filtration to keep the lawn mower engine, starting and running properly.

How to clean foam lawn mower air filter

Wash with soap, water dry completely, then oil

Cleaning a lawn mower foam air cleaner element, is relatively easy, a bit messy, yes, still one of the easier mower winterizing tasks. All you will need, compressed air for blowing loose dirt and dust from around the air cleaner cover before removing it, exposing the filter element. I have found using one of the air-powered dusters cans the best way to get this job done. No loud compressor taking up space, no hose to mess with, or blower nozzle to search for, just insert the tube / straw blower thingy into the push button atop the can and you’re in business. This also works great for cleaning dust and debris from the pleated paper air cleaner elements.


Air powered duster works great

Easily remove dust and loose dirt from lawn mower air filter element

*Oh, before I forget, please remember, always wear safety glasses when using compressed air to remove dust, regardless dusting computer keyboard, car dashboard, or lawn mower filter element.

Wash foam filter using soap & water

Using a good dish washing detergent and hot water works wonders


After removing all the loose dirt, dust, and debris from the air cleaner assembly, it is time to loosen and remove the screw in the center of the air cleaner cover. This makes it possible to remove the entire air cleaner assembly from the lawn mower engine carburetor. The assembly includes, cover, foam filter element, spacer and filter housing.

*note, the foam filter element will be oily.

In the event the foam filter is crumbling, torn or otherwise too far-gone to clean, discard the old filter element and replace it with a new filter.

Mix up a bucket of Dawn dish washing detergent and hot water, or I suppose you could use the kitchen sink if your spouse isn’t looking. No matter, it’s time to give all the components  of the air cleaner assembly a good soaking bath.



Briggs & Stratton SAE-30 engine oil

You really shouldn't use the wrong motor oil in your lawn mower engine
Briggs & Stratton 30W Engine Oil - 48 Oz. 100028

Once everything is clean, lay out to dry, paying special attention to the foam filter, it must be completely dry. Do not dry in a microwave oven!

Before reassembling the filter assembly, the clean foam filter element requires a thin coat of oil over the entire surface to do its job of filtering small particles of dust, dirt and debris from the air before it enters the engine.

Use only ASE-30 Briggs & Stratton engine oil, I have included a link that will take you to where you can buy the specially formulated engine oil for use in all Briggs & Stratton engines. To help you make servicing your Briggs engines, pick-up a copy of the Briggs & Stratton small engine care and repair manual listed in this article it’s full of useful information you will use.

Winterizing a lawn mower summary

Never put away a lawn mower dirty, stale fuel in the gas tank, or in need of repair.

Love it or hate it, a gas-powered lawn mower is without question the most used lawn care tool homeowners like you and me own. Equally so, keeping our trusty mower in good working condition is although important. We often justify putting off winterizing a mower for every reason imaginable. Here are my favorite, don’t have the time, simply do not want to spend the money right now, or some version of why bother the mower works fine the way it is.



With the information contained in this article, I believe you now see. Winterizing a lawn mower is easy, affordable, and even fun for like-minded folks like you and me. With that said, let’s get to it then, winterize your mower this fall, remember pay now, or you will absolutely pay later. Let us dare not forget, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before you leave this page, how about checking out the winterizing a lawn mower chat at the bottom of the page. Share your thoughts or simply ask a question it’s all good.

Enjoy your lawn and gardens, Mike

Updated: 08/28/2013, teddletonmr
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Winterizing a lawn mower chat

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teddletonmr on 10/23/2013

ologsinquito you are not alone, winterizing the lawn mower is one of those lawn care jobs most people put off, or forget about entirely, that is of course until spring and their mower will not start or run properly.

ologsinquito on 10/23/2013

This is a very useful article. I never knew you had to winterize a lawnmower. I'll tell my husband about this.

teddletonmr on 08/29/2013

2uesday, thanks for sharing your insights on composting grass clippings. We too are careful about mixing twigs, small sticks and other garden debris with the moisture laden grass clippings that are definitely otherwise prone to matting down and mold.
I too have experience with an electric lawn mower that requires plugging into an electrical outlet. Great for small spaces, the 18-inch electric Toro mower I had worked as well as any similar sized gas powered mower I tried. Without the need of expensive fuels, motor oils filters, spark plugs etc.

teddletonmr on 08/29/2013

Natural_Skin_Care, thanks for stopping by. Last year as in years past we too used our lawn mower through late November. Cutting grass, mulching and collecting falling leaves we dispose of in the compost heap.
Enjoy your day, Mike

teddletonmr on 08/29/2013

2uesday, thanks for mentioning your use of an electric lawn mower. I would like to know, is your electric mower cordless / uses a rechargeable battery, or corded and requires a power cord plug into an electrical outlet?
Best wishes, Mike

teddletonmr on 08/29/2013

Hey Pam good to hear from you, using your mower to mulch and bag leaves in fall is a common practice many homeowners such as yourself engage in each year. Recycling and using the leaf litter as mulch around our perennials, walking paths, compost heap etc. is far better than trucking the debris to a landfill, or simply allowing leaves blow all over the place becoming a nuisance.
I am sure you are keenly aware as is I. using our lawn mower and bagger attachment mulching, and collecting the falling leaves is a terribly dusty job. So much so, such conditions make it difficult for folks like us, and our lawn mower’s engine ability to breathe clean air, required to work properly and get the job done with no ill effects.
Personally, all the sneezing and blowing my nose serves as a reminder to keep my mower’s air filter element clean, leaf litter from collecting around the exhaust / muffler where it might catch fire, and remember to empty and clean the bagger before putting the mower away.
Thanks again Pam, be well. Mike

dustytoes on 08/29/2013

I will be using my mower into the fall if only to chop and collect the leaves - it has a bagger attachment which is wonderful. I use stabilizer too and realize I need a can of that air spray. That can be used for many cleaning projects. Thanks for this helpful page!

Natural_Skin_Care on 08/29/2013

Unfortunately I've got a good 2 more months of mowing, but nice to know what I need to do once it does get cold here.

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