How to Clean Your Lawn Mower Deck

These easy maintenance tips will help keep your mower in top form

Cut grass flying out from under a lawn mower. Photo: Billy Currie/ Getty Images

With lawn mower season still in full swing, make sure you’re cleaning your tool’s deck regularly for optimal performance. Properly removing grass clippings and other yard debris after each use is important for smooth, even mowing.

“Clippings can get stuck on the underside of the deck, reducing airflow that’s critical for mower performance,” says Misha Kollontai, the engineer who leads CR’s lawn mower testing. “These clippings can also lead to rust if the locked-in moisture—and potentially fertilizer—are exposed to the deck for too long.”

Follow these simple steps to clean the lawn mower deck:

If your mower has a washout port, the job is as simple as inserting a garden hose and letting the spray do its work. That’s easiest to do just after mowing, when the clippings are still moist.

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If there’s no washout port, turn the mower on its side before hosing. Wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands from the blade. As a further precaution, disconnect the spark-plug wire on a gas mower or remove the battery on abattery-powered model. If you have a gas mower, make sure that when it’s on its side, the carburetor and air filter are facing up, which keeps oil from getting into the fuel system.

In addition to cleaning with a hose, periodically remove any dry, hardened clippings with a hard-plastic ice or paint scraper or an old bristled pot scrubber. That reduces the risk of scratching (and eventual rusting) that a metal scraper or other tool might cause. 

After you’ve finished, spray silicone lubricant on the underside of the deck to reduce clipping buildup next time you mow and to make cleanup easier.


Tobie Stanger

I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger