How to clean a riding lawn mower deck

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A clogged mower deck can hurt your turf and the riding mower itself.

Indeed, nothing is as thrilling as a neat underside- the mower will run smoothly and make your passion for mowing a more gratifying experience.

Here we look at how to clean a riding lawn mower deck to keep your riding lawn mower healthy and help it make prize-winning stripes all season long.

How to clean a riding lawn mower deck: step-by-step guide


For a start, you get the equipment and other tools necessary for the job ready.

These include:

  • Gardening gloves (heavy-duty)- your safety is important.
  • Flat pry bar- for scraping dead grass and dirt.
  • Wire brush- for scrubbing off remaining dirt.
  • Air hose- to blow away any loose grass.
  • Garden hose- to wet the deck.
  • Dish wash soap/multi-purpose detergent- for cleaning (soapy water cleans best).
  • Air compressor- useful for blasting grass from the air filter.

The other thing here is taking the usual safety measures before getting down to work.


  1. Wear your pair of garden gloves to shield your hands.
  2. Disengage the lawn mower spark plug. You don’t want the mower to accidentally start!
  3. Remove the blade. This is not mandatory can be helpful for your protection.
  4. Lastly, remove the gas from the tank (Tip it on its side and empty the fuel into a bucket/other containers). 

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How to clean the underside of a lawn mower (riding): actual cleaning procedures

  1. Reach for the underside- lift the machine safely (you don’t want it to tip over) into the air.
  2. Get rid of dried grass – consider wetting the bottom by spraying the underside meticulously with the garden hose first. The grass will now be easier to scrape off. Use the flat pry bar to clear the clumps of the caked-on grass and the wire brush to take out excess deposits.
  3. Wash the mower- your deck is ready for a thorough wash at this stage to discard leftover debris. Apply the soap/detergent and let it stand for 5-10 minutes then connect the garden hose to the hose port (if present) and rinse thoroughly.  A pressure washer (high-pressure) can also do the job magnificently.

Tip: Be sure to steer water clear of electrical parts when washing the deck. Letting them come in contact with water can drastically shorten their life. Likewise, avoid spraying water into susceptible parts like the bearings.

  • Blow the air filter with the air compressor (if washable)- remember to remove the filter for this operation. Also, wash it properly (mix water and soap) and let it dry. 
  • Drying- after you’re done cleaning, allow the deck some time to air dry before heading out for the next mowing session.

How to prevent grass from clogging the mower deck

You can discourage the accumulation of grass clipping and dirt on your deck by taking the following steps:

  • Lightly coating the mower deck- you could spray vegetable oil (non-stick) or a silicone-based lubricant spray to prevent dirt from sticking. Used motor oil or WD40 are brilliant alternatives.
  • Brush the underside after each use- passing a broom beneath the deck will dislodge collected clippings before they start interfering with the airflow needed for proper bulging, bagging, etc.
  • Run the mower at sonic speed- mowing at full throttle will make life difficult for grass clippings that want to attach to the bottom. Do this all the time.
  • Mow in dry weather– the grass will, of course, sticks more when wet and you can decide to wait until its drier (whenever possible).

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Effects of clogging and debris on a riding mower deck

A riding mower deck that’s heavily congested with grass clippings and other dried matter is a pain!

It will not only refuse to cut efficiently but can also cause many issues in the yard including helping quickly spread lawn diseases around your property.

That’s because the pileup could deflect the blades (explains the weird grass cutting) or even block their spinning.

On the issue of turf diseases, it’s pretty obvious that microorganisms that pass the infections such as fungi have a favorable habitat in the grime lurking on the underside of the mower.

And so they will get a point of entry to healthy grass once freshly cut when using your mowing equipment in wet turf.

What’s more, the debris reduces rust protection even for owners applying high caliber rust protection products and rust may begin to eat into the metal housing the mower deck.

In the worst-case scenario, the deck may grow too weak and fail to support the engine making your equipment unusable.

How often should I clean the riding lawn mower deck?

Any discussion on how to clean a riding lawn mower deck can never be complete without tackling the question of the frequency of cleaning.

Now, the recommendation is you undertake the task at least twice in the course of each mowing season.

This is not carved in stone and you might have to do it more times particularly if you have to mow in persistently wet conditions or if you have dealt with very tall grass a couple of times. 

It’s nearly impossible to keep off the dried grass clippings from the underside as you mow and it’s important that you clean the underside of your riding mower deck regularly.

We have just looked at how to clean a riding lawn mower deck and its now on you to take up the challenge and carry out this vital chore as discussed.

Two things will thank you: your mower and your grass.

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