The weather has grown crisp, and the grass has stopped growing. Soon you’ll trade in your mower for a rake. But you’ll need to store your mower in a way that ensures it’s ready to go when spring rolls around again. Do you know how to winterize a lawn mower?

I learned my winterization lesson the hard way. I parked my mower in a toolshed for the winter without doing anything to it. Of course, it refused to start when winter thawed, spring appeared and the grass started growing again.

To help you learn from my mistakes, here’s a checklist that shows you exactly how to winterize a lawn mower.

The vast majority of Americans use a push-behind lawn mower. Few of us have yards large enough to require a riding mower, so few of us have them. For that reason, this post will focus on how to winterize a push-behind mower. While some of the tips and tricks may apply to riding lawn mowers, too, you’ll need to find guidance specific to a riding mower if you want to properly store it for winter.


1. Drain the Gas

I recommend draining your gas. Just let the mower run until it’s fully clear of fuel. Why? Because gas left to sit in the mower over winter starts to create clumps that can clog your fuel line when you try to start the mower again in spring.

If you can’t drain the gas or don’t want to for any reason, add a little fuel stabilizer. Run the engine for a few minutes after the stabilizer has been added to distribute the stabilized fuel throughout the line.


2. Change Your Oil

Fresh oil is essential to your mower starting easily in the spring. Drain the existing oil, and then replace with fresh oil — making sure to hit the fill line exactly. Not only does fresh oil help your mower start up again easily, it also helps extend the lifespan of your mower’s engine and its many parts.


3. Clean Thoroughly

Give your mower a good scrub, both on its top and its bottom. Remember that your mower is doing tough and messy work through the hottest months of the year, and it’s most likely coated with mud, dirt and grass clippings. The grass clippings can be especially dangerous. They typically hold moisture, and they can lead to rust if you’re not careful.

Scrub with a damp rag, and then make sure your mower is fully dry. Wipe down with WD40 on the deck’s underside to further ensure there’s no rust or corrosion when you pull your mower out again in spring.


4. Swap Spark Plugs

Remove your existing spark plugs, and then pour a capful of engine oil (or two) into the holes where the spark plugs go. You can channel the oil throughout the engine by pulling your cord a few times — this turns the engine over.

Examine your spark plugs for any sign of wear and tear. They are designed to last about 100 hours or mowing time. If they look worn, replace them. Spark plugs are just about the least expensive thing on your mower to replace.


5. Sharpen Blades

First remove your blade, which can be difficult if there’s any corrosion around the bolt. If you’re having a hard time, place a wooden block inside the mower’s circulation area to ensure the blade stays put while you turn. The more torque you can create the better, so look for a wrench or socket with the longest possible handle.

Once you’ve removed the blade, clean thoroughly before sharpening with a stone. Add a layer of WD40 to prevent any rust or corrosion, just as you did the underside of the mower’s deck, then replace the blade — make sure to get it as tight as possible.


6. Store in the Right Spot

You want to store your mower in a temperate, dry spot for the winter. You don’t want it exposed the elements or to insects and other critters. A garage is typically a good spot. A shed will do. And do anything you can to avoid storing outdoors. Consider covering with a tarp to further ensure that your mower is fully prepped and ready to go when spring rolls around again.


Final Thoughts on How to Winterize a Lawn Mower

A lawn mower is an investment, one that you want maximum value out of. By properly preparing and storing your mower for winter, you’re helping to extend the number of seasons you’ll be able to use it. You’re also increasing the chances of your mower firing right up when you roll it out again.

If you have any trouble getting your mower to start in spring, you can also use a small engine starting spray. It’s worked like a charm for me in the past.

Did I miss a step? What else would you do to winterize a lawn mower? Let us know in the comments section, or send us a message through our contact form.