How to Clean a Riding Lawn Mower Engine

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As a homeowner with a well-groomed lawn, you understand the importance of keeping your riding lawn mower in top-notch condition. A clean engine not only ensures peak performance but also extends the lifespan of your trusty mower. As a team of lawn care professionals with decades of combined experience, we’ve encountered countless instances where a simple engine cleaning has revived a mower’s vigor, allowing it to tackle even the most overgrown grass with ease.

Clean a Riding Lawn Mower Engine

We will take you step-by-step through the process to clean a riding lawn mower engine in this extensive guide, so you can be sure that your mower will keep cutting grass perfectly for many years to come. Now, gather your supplies, put on some gloves, and let us get started!

Why it is Important to Clean Lawn Mower Engine

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of the cleaning process, let’s address the elephant in the room: why is it so crucial to keep your lawn mower engine clean? Well, as you know, a well-maintained engine not only runs more efficiently but also lasts longer.

Over time, grass clippings, dirt, and grime can accumulate, acting as insulation and causing the engine to overheat. This excessive heat can lead to premature wear and tear, potentially resulting in costly repairs or even complete engine failure.

Moreover, a clean engine allows for better airflow, which is essential for optimal combustion and power output. Imagine trying to run a marathon while wearing a heavy coat – your mower’s engine experiences a similar struggle when clogged with debris. Maintaining frequent engine cleaning can let your engine breathe correctly and provide it the strength it needs to tackle even the roughest lawns.

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean a Riding Lawn Mower Engine

Now that we’ve established the importance of a clean engine, let’s dive into the step-by-step process that will transform your mower from a grimy workhorse to a sparkling powerhouse.

Tools and Supplies Needed: Before we begin, gather the following tools and supplies:

  • Engine degreaser or cleaner (we recommend [insert recommended product])
  • Clean rags or paper towels
  • Soft-bristle brushes
  • Compressed air (optional)
  • Engine oil and filter (if you’re due for an oil change)
  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, etc.)

Step 1: Prepare the Engine Area

Park your mower on a flat, level surface, and allow the engine to cool completely before starting. We don’t want any accidental burns or mishaps. Next, remove any loose debris around the engine bay and protect surrounding areas with drop cloths.

Trust us; you don’t want to inadvertently redecorate your garage floor with a greasy mural—unless abstract art is your thing, in which case, carry on!

Clean a Riding Lawn Mower Engine

Step 2: Remove External Engine Components

Start by removing the air filter housing and filter, spark plug wires and spark plugs, and any other removable covers or components. This will give you direct access to the engine’s nooks and crannies, where grime and gunk love to hide.

As you remove each part, inspect and clean them thoroughly. You’d be surprised at the amount of gunk that can accumulate in these areas, acting as a breeding ground for future performance issues.

Step 3: Apply Degreaser and Let it Soak

Now, time to bring in the big guns—the degreaser. Liberally apply the degreaser to the engine, ensuring that you cover every nook and cranny. Avoid spraying it directly onto electrical components, as that could lead to a shocking experience (pun intended, but also a friendly reminder to exercise caution).

Let the degreaser soak for the recommended amount of time, allowing it to work its magic on those stubborn grease stains that have been taunting you for far too long. In the meantime, you can scrub any particularly tough areas with a soft-bristle brush, channeling your inner drill sergeant.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry the Engine

Once the degreaser has had ample time to work its magic, it’s time to rinse away the grime. Use a low-pressure water source, such as a garden hose, to thoroughly rinse the engine. If you have access to compressed air, you can use it to blow out any hard-to-reach areas, dislodging any remaining debris that’s been clinging for dear life.

However, avoid using excessive water pressure, as it could potentially damage sensitive engine components, undoing all your hard work.

After rinsing, use clean rags to thoroughly dry all surfaces. This step is crucial, as any remaining moisture could lead to rust or corrosion down the line, which is like inviting a mischievous gremlin to wreak havoc on your beloved mower. Don’t let that happen!

Step 5: Reassemble and Replace Components

With a now sparkling-clean engine that would make even the most discerning detailer jealous, it’s time to reassemble your mower. Reinstall the spark plugs, air filters, covers, and any other components you removed earlier, taking care to ensure everything is properly aligned and secured.

If you’re due for an oil change, now is the perfect time to replace the oil and filter, giving your mower a fresh start and a renewed lease on life.

Double-check that all components are securely fastened, and give your workspace a final once-over to ensure you haven’t inadvertently left any tools or rags behind.

Also check out:

Can You Pressure Wash a Riding Lawn Mower Engine?

The appeal of pressure washing your riding mower’s engine is undeniable. That high-pressure water stream can blast through even the toughest buildup, leaving surfaces sparkling like new. It’s an incredibly efficient and thorough way to clean, but is it safe for your mower’s engine?

Manufacturer guidance varies widely on whether pressure washing a lawn mower’s engine is an acceptable practice. Water plus sensitive engine components equal obvious potential for damage and corrosion problems. Before ever considering pressure washing your mower’s engine, careful preparation and precautions are an absolute must to avoid costly issues.

The Best Proper Washing Technique:

  • Maintain a safe distance from the engine per your machine’s recommendations, typically no closer than 6–12 inches.
  • Avoid holding the spray nozzle at a perpendicular angle, which increases pressure.
  • Focus on quickly rinsing and moving along all surfaces; don’t concentrate the stream in any single spot for too long.
  • Stubborn areas may require a brush rather than excessive water pressure.
  • After pressure washing, quickly dry all engine surfaces using compressed air, clean rags, or a leaf blower. Pay close attention to seams and crevices where water may accumulate.
  • Consider changing the engine oil if you suspect moisture contamination. Start the engine and check for any irregularities that could indicate water damage.


By following this guide, you’ll not only extend the lifespan of your riding lawn mower but also ensure optimal performance with every cut. Remember, regular cleaning is a form of preventative maintenance that can save you from costly repairs down the line.

We encourage you to share this guide with fellow lawn enthusiasts and leave a comment with any additional tips or experiences you’d like to share. Together, we can keep our lawns looking their best while protecting the hard-working machines that make it all possible.


Can I use compressed air to dry the engine after cleaning?

Yes, compressed air can be an effective tool for drying hard-to-reach areas of the engine after cleaning. Just be cautious not to blow debris further into tight spaces.

Can I also use a pressure washer to clean my lawn mower engine?

While pressure washers are effective at removing stubborn grime, they can also potentially damage sensitive engine components if not used properly.

How often should I clean my riding lawn mower engine?

It’s recommended to clean your mower’s engine at least once per mowing season.

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