How to Clean and Maintain Lawn Mowers and Trimmers - dummies

How to Clean and Maintain Lawn Mowers and Trimmers

By Gill Chilton

Keeping your landscaping equipment clean and maintained will not only help keep your lawn tidy, but it will reduce potential accidents and complement your otherwise clean, neat lawn.

Help lawn mowers keep their cutting edge

You want a sit down and a long, cool drink after you mow that final stretch, but your machine actually needs a quick clean now, before the grass debris on the casing and blade dries hard. In particular, you want to brush grass away from the ventilation slots. Blockages here are an obvious cause of over-heating and are rated a fire hazard.

Keep a soft brush and a thick cloth right where you store your lawn mower and you’re more likely to make the effort to use them each time.

With hover mowers, you need to get grass out from under the hood. Some brands provide a tool with their machines. If your mower does not, buy a plastic kitchen spatula for scraping out grass. Many hovers also have rollers that lever out to aid cleaning.

Never use water or polishes to clean a lawnmower and always be aware of the blade. Always wear gloves to clean a lawn mower. Even a human-powered mower can inflict serious cuts. If your mower is electric, make sure that the plug is removed from the socket before cleaning any part of it. If it is petrol driven it’s always a good idea to disconnect the spark plug.

Always thoroughly empty the grass box or bag. You save on mess if you give the box a final shake and sweep out wherever you leave your clippings.

To get at the blades of hand and electric lawn mowers, turn the machine onto one side. Some petrol mowers can’t be turned on one side: so check the manual for advice. Mindful of the sharp blade, carefully remove compacted grass from hovers with a spatula or a smooth-edged plastic trowel kept for the purpose. For cylinders, a soft brush is a safer, speedier option.

A squirt of WD-40 on the blades of a traditional cylinder mower stops grass from sticking to them.

Now that most lawnmowers are made mostly of plastic, rust on anything other than the blades is rarely an issue. If yours is a metal exception to the rule, be scrupulous about wiping the box and body of your lawn mower dry before putting it away. Plastic mowers also enjoy a soft cloth wipe, but it’s largely cosmetic.

Petrol mowers can be a problem to start in spring as the petrol left in the mower over winter can solidify in the jets of the carburettor. On your last cut of the season, allow the mower to run dry. This prevents ‘gone off’ petrol and it is safer to store the mower over the winter without petrol in it.

How to maintain hedge trimmers and strimmers

Whenever you replace the nylon cutting line of the strimmer (weed wacker or trimmer), take the opportunity to clean out the motor casing. Use a soft brush to remove dust and then lightly oil moving parts.

Hedge trimmers need to be wiped with an oily rag after each cut. Use a wire-brush to get off any dried-on grass clippings.