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How To Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter: 3 Types Of Lawn Mower Air Filter

A lawn mower air filter is an important part of the lawn mower engine. It’s used to keep debris from entering the engine and causing damage. The filter also helps to improve engine’s performance by keeping the engine clean of dirt and other particles.

A dirty lawn mower air filter can cause different symptoms depending on the engine type. The most common symptom is that it will not start. If the engine does start, there is a chance that it will stall out after running for a short period.

A dirty air filter can also cause an increase in fuel consumption and an increase in emissions. After reading the aftermaths of a dirty lawn mower’s air filter, you must be looking for the answer to how to clean lawn mower air filter. Read on the article to know!

How To Clean Lawn mower Air Filter
My uncle’s air filter for a lawn mower – via Reddit

Symptoms of A Dirty Lawn Mower Air Filter

A dirty air filter can lead to several problems with your lawn mower. The most common symptoms are:

  • Reduced engine power
  • Larger fuel consumption
  • Increased emissions
  • Higher engine temperature

You must keep your lawn mower air filter clean to protect the gasoline engine from dirt. It must be a part of your lawn mower maintenance regime to clean your air filter. It would be best to clean your lawn mower’s air filter at least every season and replace it after two years.

You can shop for new ones at most hardware or home improvement stores, or you can purchase them online. Maintaining a clean air filter improves the performance of your lawn mower’s engine and increases its life.

Lawn Mower Air Filter Types

A lawn mower air filter is a type of filter used to stop debris from entering the engine. Debris can be anything from grass clippings to dust. The air filter creates a barrier between the engine and the air it intakes, which means that it is free of debris.

It allows for better airflow, which in turn means better fuel efficiency and performance for your lawn mower. Let’s discuss various lawn mower air filters and their different cleaning methods. There are 3 types of lawn mower air filters.

1.     Pleated Paper Air Filter

A pleated paper is a disposable air filter with an interior resembling a honeycomb that allows for high airflow rates. These filters are typically square or rectangular have multiple pleats facing outwards, away from the engine component.

If the pleats of your fuel filter are caked with oil and debris, they will lose their ability to trap particles. It will make them darker in color.

When this happens, it is time to replace your fuel filter. They may need to be replaced every six months, and their life span is shorter than other types of air filters.

As we mentioned, it is a disposable air filter, so it is designed to be replaceable when it is clogged with particles or becomes too dirty. It does an adequate job of filtering dust and debris from your engine, but it does not protect your engine for any long periods.

2.     Foam Air Filter

Foam filters of lawn mowers are designed to keep the dirt and debris from entering the engine. It is done by trapping small particles to be caught in the foam filter. In this way, they help keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently.

Foam filters can be made out of various materials, including polystyrene, polyurethane, and polypropylene. These filters have much better filtration quality than the pleated paper ones.

These are more expensive, but they don’t let dirt accumulate like a regular paper filter into your engine. It traps everything inside its fibers instead of letting it settle.

3.     Paper/Foam Combo Or Dual-Element Filters

Dual-element filters are a type of filter that contains two different media to trap particles. They are used in gas masks, air purifiers, and other air filtration devices. Such an air filter has two elements. The first element is a high-capacity pre-cleaner filter that traps large particles like dust and dirt.

The second or primary element is a carbon filter which captures smaller particles like smoke, pollen, and other organic substances. They are more efficient yet expensive than the other two lawn mower air filters.

How To Clean Lawn mower Air Filter 2
I changed the air filter in my 20 yr.+ hand-me-down lawnmower! – via Reddit

How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter All Types

Cleaning a lawn mower air filter is not as tough as it may sound. Read this guide on how to clean a lawn mower air filter, and you will be able to do it yourself without any professional’s assistance.

Here are the general steps of cleaning an air filter; after that, we will discuss the cleaning method of each air filter type. Read with us!

  • Make sure to remove the engine’s spark plug before you start working with the air filter. It is crucial to prevent any potential accidents.
  • Locate the air filter on your lawn mower and remove the air filter’s housing from the engine.
  • Check the air filter to ensure that it is clean and no clogs or other obstructions.
  • If any debris is found, remove it with gloves on.
  • We have discussed different cleaning methods for different air filter types, viz. foam, paper, and dual-element filters below. Clean your air filter by following the steps.
  • Then replace the filter into the lawn mower engine after cleaning it.
  • It would help if you fixed it rightly at its place with no holes or spaces.
  • Fill up with fresh fuel, turn on the ignition key and see if there is any smoke before you attempt to operate your lawn mower again.

Cleaning Foam Air Filter

  • Wash your foam air filter with any soap or detergent by gently squeezing and scrubbing it all over.
  • Keep on squeezing it until all the debris is removed.
  • Rinse under the running tap water and ensure no soap is left.
  • Press it to remove the water and dry off using a paper towel or cloth.
  • It is best to lay it in the sun to dry properly.
  • Once the air filter dry, grease it with filter oil. You can prevent oil dripping by using a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Cleaning Paper Air Filter

  • You can knock the dirt off the paper air filter by tapping it after removing as much dirt as you can see the filter by taking it in front of the light.
  • If you can see the light passing through it, you are good to go with the same filter. If not, then change the filter as soon as possible.
  • You may replace paper filters periodically by purchasing a new one to fit the exact make and model of the mower itself.

Cleaning Dual Element Air Filter

  • Soak your dual air filter in water for about 15 minutes.
  • Clean its compartments with the help of a cleaning brush.
  • Squeeze extra water and let it dry in the sun.
  • Spray some motor oil and fix the filter back to its original position.


Cleaning the lawn mower filter is not difficult, but it does require some time and patience. Maintain your lawn mower’s cleanliness and safety by cleaning the air filter described above.

We hope this guide answers how to clean lawn mower air filter. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!