How to Clean or Replace a Lawn Mower Air Filter? (Complete Guide)

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Air filters are an essential piece of the lawn mower. It works as a safeguard for the engine protecting it from dust, dirt, and grass debris. The precise combustion process of the lawn mower’s engine depends on air filters, which come in various shapes and sizes.

However, as you’ll quickly discover, a dirty air filter may make your lawn mower suffer in many ways, making what would typically be a few fun hours in the yard into a prolonged, agonizing nightmare.

The air filter can be quickly cleaned, which is especially exciting. Therefore, we advise including air filter cleaning in your regular lawn mower maintenance rather than waiting for issues to arise.

Let’s go over the function of air filters in more detail and how to properly clean/to replace the air filter.

How to Know if The Air Filter is Dirty?

How to know If The Air Filter is Dirty?
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A visual inspection may be the first indication of a blocked or dirty air filter. The filter should be clean and appear white when in good condition. If the air filter on your lawn mower turns dark or black, it’s time to clean it or replace it because this is a sign that it’s becoming clogged or dirty. The following are additional indications of an obstructed air filter:

  • Diminished engine performance:- A low oxygen content in the gasoline slows down the ignition and burning of the fuel to produce power.
  • Problems starting the lawn mower:- The engine is difficult to start without air, fuel, and functional spark plugs. If one of them is damaged, starting your lawn mower will be difficult.
  • Black smoke coming from a lawnmower:- It is a sign of insufficient air supply, which slows down fuel combustion.
  • Engine noise louder than previously:- If your air filters are clogged, you may hear odd noises from your lawn mower’s engine.
  • Excess fuel consumption:- This results in less gasoline being burned and a shorter duration for your lawnmower.

What Are The Implications You Have to Face Because of Dirt-Filled Air Filter?

What Are The Implications You Have to Face Because of Dirt-Filled Air Filter
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The main issue that you might face initially because of overlooking the fact that your lawn mower’s air filter has been filled with dirt and debris are:

  • Your lawn mower won’t start.
  • You can face downfalling in performance.
  • Along with that, there can be a decline in fuel economy.
  • Your lawn mower starts blowing back smoke.
  • The lawn mower might start backfiring.
  • Possibilities that you can face problems with the mower overheating.

Which is Better for You, Changing the Air Filter or Cleaning it?

Which is Better for You, Changing the Air Filter or Cleaning It
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You must have found that most lawnmowers have two types of air filters: foam air filters and dual element filters. Paper and foam make up the dual-element filters.

However, both air filters mentioned above can be cleaned if their entire component remains intact. You can replace them if only tears or holes in their fibers exist. Otherwise, cleaning the air filter if blocked or clogged is the best option.

The well-known and top producer of small engines used in lawn mowers and other garden tools, Briggs & Stratton, suggests changing the air filter system every 25 operational hours, and more often if you work in dirty conditions.

This way, it will stop the engine from suffering from premature wear and tear brought on by fuel/air mixture debris.

The air filters can be changed as a remedy for a lawn mower that won’t start after sitting. The air filters can be changed or cleaned without taking your equipment to a repair shop. Any specific advice will require you to read and abide by the user manual’s instructions.

Also Read: How To Make A Riding Lawn Mower Go Faster?

Cleaning/Replacing a Lawn Mower’s Air Filter

Cleaning/Replacing a Lawn Mower's Air Filter
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Only after looking and checking the manual will you get to know if your air filter needs cleaning of foam or dual element air filter. Now that you know it, it is time for the cleaning business. The steps are as follows:

Techniques for Cleaning a Lawn Mower’s Foam Air Filter

Do you know foam filters can survive rigorous washing? Yes, that’s true. Foam filters are much more durable than you know. They are typically employed as pre-filters to collect the majority of the larger material before it enters the main filter.

Next, we’ll go through how to clean the foam air filter on your lawn mower.

Required Tools for The Cleaning of The Foam Air Filter

  • Clean Water
  • Compressor Air Gun
  • Filter Cleaner Spray (Spray Degreaser)
  • Filter Oil Spray
  • Paper Towel
  • Ziplock Bag

Step 1. Blow off The Dirt With an Air Gun

Use your compressor air gun to clean the filter of all dirt and debris completely. In this phase, try to get rid of as much dirt and debris as possible.

Step 2. Spray The Cleaner

Spray your filter cleaner liberally all over the filter, then let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to absorb the cleaning.

Step 3. Rinse Off The Cleaner

This step involves rinsing the filter under running water to eliminate all the cleaner and debris. Reapply the cleaner and repeat the rinse if you think it needs one more thorough cleaning.

Step 4. Leave The Filter to Dry

Squeeze out water from the filter without damaging it, then let it air dry. It should dry entirely in at least 24 hours, in my opinion.

Step 5. Put Oil Into The Filter

Apply the filter spray evenly to all of the surfaces of the filter, then put it in a ziplock bag. After that, squeeze the bag to force the oil into the filter’s center. After that, leave the filter alone for 5–10 minutes.

Step 6. Clean Off The Excess Oil

Please take a few paper towels and put them in the filter bag. Squeeze the bag once more, then let the paper towel absorb any extra oil.

Step 7. Re-Examine & Reinstall

Don’t worry; this will be the last step of this complete procedure. Now, you need to examine the filter and check for any damage. If the foam filter is your primary filter, it must be free of holes and other damage.

A few tiny holes are acceptable if the device is a pre-filter. But remember that anything that passes past the pre-filter will harm the primary filter. You can reinstall your filter on the lawnmower if it passes inspection.

Why is Cleaning The Air Filter Crucial?

Why is Cleaning The Air Filter Crucial
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Studies revealed that an engine needs an air-fuel ratio (AFR) of approximately 14.7:1 to function effectively. It has also been revealed that an air filter created with specific filtration requirements can aid in maintaining this extremely accurate ratio.

What you see coming down is an air-fuel mixture that will be drastically messed up by a filter that is even somewhat unclean, leading to several issues in your land mower. And that is the reason why a prominent cleaning or changing o the air filter of a lawn mower is crucial.

Tips For Cleaning Air Filters: Simple Errors to Try to Avoid

Mistaking a paper filter for a fabric filter is one of the common mistakes almost all individuals admit when cleaning filters. In the automotive industry, fabric filters are frequently used and may be cleaned like foam filters. Unless the manufacturer approves them, cleaning products shouldn’t be used to clean paper filters.

The second most mistake is that people take cleaning a filter to improve its appearance, similar to cleaning it to improve performance.

There is no need to clean the filter’s outside to make it appear nice. No, these terms are very different. You will probably find a lot of dirt if you open the fins of a seemingly clean filter.


Can I clean the air filter of my mower on my own?

Absolutely yes! You can clean the air filter on your own. Take a bucket filled with a mixture of water and detergent. Rub off the dust and dirt material using the filter scrum dipped in the mix.

Could a dirty air filter affect the start function of the mower?

A clogged air filter with dirt blocks the air from entering the carburetor. And because of that, the engine might give you a tough time in starting it.

Is it alright to wash the air filter?

Yes, it is okay to wash out the air filter. Just turn off the lawn mower. Remove the housing. Using hot water and liquid soap, clean the air filter.

How to effectively clean the air filter of a John Deere lawn mower?

For effective cleaning, remove the screw and uncover the protective shield of the filter. Take the air filter out. For the paper air filter, remove the loose dirt by gently tapping on the surface of it. Recheck it. Now, place the air filter in a place with a bright light source.

What are the ways to clean Briggs & Stratton air filters?

The Briggs and Stratton mower comes with two kinds of air filters. The dual system consists of foam and a paper filter. Measuring the amount of dust and debris level, Briggs & Stratton demands only a 25-hour filter change for both filters.


Now that you have learned how to effortlessly clean or replace the air filter of your lawn mower, you must know that cleaning a lawn mower’s carburetor is one more factor that is very important for a well-maintenance of the lawn mower.

Always keep this in mind: if you use your lawn mower for a very long period without bothering to clean the dirt and debris clogged in the air filters, there’s a good probability the carburetor is also becoming clogged; you should clean it. And that is why taking its cleaning into account is also necessary.

Though we have mentioned everything, you need to know how to take perfect care of your lawn mower to maintain its effective performance.

We also mentioned why it is important to keep up with the maintenance for a good periodic gap of time and when it is required to change the air filter. We hope that you will get to know the answer to all questions you are searching for.

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