How to Prepare Your Lawn Mower for Winter Storage: A Step-by-Step Guide?

The crisp autumn air, vibrant foliage, and the satisfying crunch of fallen leaves mark the end of the lawn mowing season. As you bid farewell to the warm days spent tending your green haven, you’re faced with the question: how do you properly prepare your lawn mower for winter storage? Storing your mower improperly can lead to rust, corrosion, and costly repairs in the spring. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure your lawn mower hibernates safely and efficiently, ready to tackle the grass when the weather warms up again.

A Quick Overview of Lawn Mower Winterization

Preparing your lawn mower for winter storage involves a series of steps aimed at protecting it from the harsh elements and ensuring optimal performance in the spring. This process typically includes:

  • Cleaning: Thoroughly cleaning the mower removes grass clippings, dirt, and debris that can lead to corrosion and damage.
  • Fuel Treatment: Treating the fuel prevents it from deteriorating, which can clog the engine and cause problems when you start it up next season.
  • Engine Maintenance: Performing basic maintenance tasks like changing the oil and sharpening the blades ensures the engine remains in top condition.
  • Storage: Storing the mower in a dry, well-ventilated location further protects it from moisture and humidity.

Step 1: Give Your Lawn Mower a Thorough Cleaning

The first step to winterizing your lawn mower is giving it a good cleaning. This removes any lingering grass clippings, dirt, and debris that can attract moisture and lead to rust and corrosion. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start with a Brush: Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove loose debris from the mower deck, engine, and wheels.

2. Wash with Soap and Water: Use a mild detergent and water to wash the exterior of the mower, including the deck, wheels, and engine. Avoid spraying directly into the engine or air intake.

3. Dry Thoroughly: Allow the mower to air dry completely before proceeding. This step is crucial to prevent rust and moisture build-up.

4. Clean the Air Filter: Remove the air filter and clean it with a brush or compressed air. If the filter is severely dirty or damaged, replace it with a new one.

5. Check the Spark Plug: Remove the spark plug and inspect it for wear and tear. If the electrode is worn down, replace the spark plug. Clean the spark plug with a wire brush if it is still in good condition.

Step 2: Prepare the Fuel System for Winter

Fuel left in the lawn mower’s tank over winter can deteriorate and gum up the engine. It’s important to treat the fuel or drain it entirely.

1. Fuel Stabilizer: The Preferred Approach:

  • Choose the Right Stabilizer: Select a fuel stabilizer specifically designed for gasoline engines. Follow the product’s instructions carefully.
  • Add the Stabilizer to the Fuel Tank: Add the fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Run the Engine: Run the engine for a few minutes to allow the stabilizer to distribute throughout the fuel system.
  • Top Off the Tank: After adding the stabilizer, fill the fuel tank to the top to minimize air exposure.

2. Drain the Fuel: An Alternative Option

If you prefer to completely drain the fuel, follow these steps:

  • Start by Running the Mower: Run the mower until the fuel tank is nearly empty.
  • Drain Remaining Fuel: Remove the fuel cap and drain any remaining fuel into a suitable container.
  • Empty the Fuel Line: Use a fuel line siphon to remove any remaining fuel from the fuel line.

3. Store the Fuel Properly:

  • Use a Fuel Container: Store the drained fuel in a tightly sealed fuel container. Label the container with the date and type of fuel.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Keep the fuel container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Discard Old Fuel: Discard any unused fuel after a year to avoid problems with deterioration.

Step 3: Perform Essential Engine Maintenance

Performing basic engine maintenance before storing your lawn mower is essential for ensuring smooth operation in the spring.

1. Change the Engine Oil:

  • Warm Up the Engine: Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to warm up the oil.
  • Drain the Old Oil: Position a drain pan under the engine and remove the drain plug. Allow all the oil to drain completely.
  • Replace the Drain Plug: Replace the drain plug securely, ensuring it’s tight.
  • Add New Oil: Pour the correct amount of fresh oil into the engine oil fill tube. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended type and quantity of oil.

2. Sharpen the Blades:

  • Remove the Blades: Using gloves and safety glasses, remove the blades from the mower deck.
  • Sharpen the Blades: Use a sharpening stone or a grinding wheel to sharpen the blades. Ensure they are evenly sharp and have a consistent angle.
  • Balance the Blades: After sharpening, ensure the blades are balanced to avoid vibrations. You can use a blade balancing tool or take the blades to a professional for balancing.
  • Reinstall the Blades: Reinstall the blades securely to the mower deck. Tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 4: Store Your Lawn Mower in a Suitable Location

Proper storage is crucial to prevent rust and damage. Here’s how to store your lawn mower safely:

1. Choose a Dry Location: Select a dry, well-ventilated area for storage. Avoid storing the mower in damp basements or garages with high humidity.

2. Cover the Mower: Protect the mower from dust and moisture with a thick tarp or a dedicated lawn mower cover.

3. Keep the Battery Charged: If your mower has a battery, ensure it’s fully charged before storage. Disconnect the battery terminals to prevent power drain. You can use a battery tender to maintain the battery charge throughout the winter.

4. Protect the Blades: If your mower has a metal blade, consider applying a light coating of oil to the blade to prevent rust.

5. Raise the Mower: If possible, raise the mower off the ground on blocks or a stand to allow for better air circulation.

Additional Tips for Winter Storage:

  • Clean the Deck: If you have a mulching mower, carefully clean the deck to remove any remaining grass clippings.
  • Check the Belts: Inspect the belts for wear and tear. If they are worn or damaged, replace them before storing the mower.
  • Clean the Wheels: Wipe down the wheels with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and debris.
  • Check for Leaks: Inspect the fuel lines and engine for any signs of leaks.


By following these steps, you can ensure your lawn mower is properly prepared for winter storage and ready to perform flawlessly when spring arrives. Proper care and maintenance extend the life of your mower, saving you money and ensuring you enjoy a lush and healthy lawn for years to come. Remember, a little effort in the fall can save you headaches and frustration in the spring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I prepare my lawnmower for winter storage?

Storing your lawnmower properly over the winter is crucial to ensure it starts up easily and runs smoothly in the spring. Neglecting maintenance can lead to rust, corrosion, and fuel issues that can damage your mower and require costly repairs. By following a few simple steps, you can protect your investment and ensure your lawnmower is ready for action next season.

What are the essential steps for preparing a gas-powered lawnmower for winter storage?

For gas-powered lawnmowers, the key is to drain the fuel, clean and lubricate the engine, and protect the metal parts from rust. Start by draining the fuel tank and carburetor, as old gasoline can gum up the engine. Clean the mower thoroughly, paying particular attention to the underside and the blade. Lubricate moving parts with oil or grease, and cover the mower to protect it from dust and moisture. Finally, store the mower in a dry, well-ventilated location.

What about preparing an electric or battery-powered lawnmower?

While electric and battery-powered lawnmowers require less winterization than gas-powered models, they still need attention. First, make sure the battery is fully charged and then remove it from the mower for storage. This will prevent the battery from draining and potentially damaging it during the winter. Next, clean the mower thoroughly and store it in a dry, cool place.

Do I need to clean the air filter before storage?

Yes, cleaning the air filter before storage is essential. A dirty air filter restricts airflow to the engine, which can reduce performance and lead to engine damage. To clean the filter, first, remove it from the mower. Then, use compressed air to blow away dirt and debris. If the filter is excessively dirty or damaged, replace it with a new one.

How often should I change the oil in my lawnmower?

The frequency of oil changes depends on the type of mower and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally, it’s a good idea to change the oil every 25 hours of use or at least once a year. Check your owner’s manual for specific guidelines.

What if I use my lawnmower during the winter?

If you happen to use your lawnmower during the winter, it’s even more important to maintain it properly. After each use, wipe down the mower with a damp cloth to remove any snow, ice, or debris. Additionally, pay attention to the fuel level and add fresh fuel if necessary.

What are some additional tips for winterizing my lawnmower?

Besides the basic steps, there are other tips that can enhance winter storage. For example, consider using a fuel stabilizer to prevent the formation of gum and varnish in the fuel tank. Also, if you live in a humid climate, you might consider using a dehumidifier in the storage area to prevent rust. Finally, keep your mower’s blade sharp before storing it, as a sharp blade will ensure a clean cut and prevent wear on the engine.

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