How to Clean a Lawn Mower Paper Air Filter

Ever had to clean out your lawn mower’s paper air filter? It can be a real pain. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you make it easier on yourself! This blog post will give you step-by-step instructions on cleaning a lawn mower paper air filter for any lawnmower. We’ll also show some helpful tips that will make getting the job done all the easier. 

Maintaining your lawnmower is vital if you want to get the best use out of the machine and keep it running smoothly. Unfortunately, one thing that can lead to a breakdown of your lawnmower is a dirty air filter. A paper air filter needs to be cleaned regularly. It will affect how efficiently your engine runs and leaves debris in the way of airflow into the machine, which may cause an increase in fuel consumption and reduced power output.

How to Clean a Lawn Mower Paper Air Filter

Seven Methods on How to Clean a Lawn Mower Paper Air Filter:

Paper air filters are used in many different lawnmowers. However, over time, they can get clogged up with dirt and debris, which reduces the airflow to the carburetor resulting in a loss of power. Using ten different methods here is how to clean a paper air filter on a lawnmower.

1) Method 1 – Using a Shop Vac

You must turn off the mower and move it to an open area. Then, put a shop vac hose over the air filter. This will prevent any debris from being blown out of the exhaust while you clean it. Turn on the shop vac and let it run for about 3 minutes. Then, turn off the shop vac and disconnect it from the air filter. Turn the mower on to check for any loss of power. If there is a loss of control, you will have to clean it again until there is no loss of power when you turn the shop vac on.

2) Method 2 – Using a Putty Knife

Turn over the lawnmower to look at the bottom of the engine. Then, take the putty knife and jam it into one of the air filter slots to break up any dirt or debris that might be stuck inside. If there is a lot of ground in the air filter, you may want to do this several times until it is mostly clean.

Turn over the lawnmower so that you are looking at the top. Take your hand and spin the blade to see if the dirt makes it hard for the blade to turn. If there is a lot of dirt in the air filter, you may want to repeat this step until spinning the blade spins freely.

3) Method 3 – Using a Cloth Wipe

Put a cloth wipe over the air filter on the mower. Dab at the air filter until you can dab no more, then move on to another section of the air filter until it is clean. Please turn off the mower and let it sit for about thirty minutes before attempting to start it up again.

Check the air filter to see if it is clean and any dirt or debris on the cloth wipe after thirty minutes. If there is still dirt or debris on the air filter, repeat this step until there is no more dirt, etc.

4) Method 4 – Using a Hose

Turn off the mower and move it to an area where no mud or water will be blown up into the air filter when you do this. Then, put a hose over the air filter and turn on the water.

Let the water run onto the air filter for about three minutes, then remove the hose from the air filter and check for debris. Repeat if needed until the air filter is mostly clean. Next, turn the lawnmower on to check for loss of power, being careful not to get any excess water blown in your face.

5) Method 5 – Using an Air Compressor

If you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty, compressed air is the cleanest option available. You’ll need an air compressor that can produce at least 70 psi / 5 bars of pressure and a short length of hose/tubing to attach it to the air filter. Don’t damage the paper material when cleaning it out with compressed air.

Using an Air Compressor to clean lawn

This method works best on mowers that have removable air filters, or you can do it in two separate steps: blast away loose debris with the compressor and then follow-up with a clean water rinse to wash out anything small enough to fit in the fuel intake (primer bulb) and carburetor throat. If the air filter paper is torn, you can typically find replacements at local hardware stores or online.

6) Method 6 – Using a Piece of Cardboard

This only works if your mower has an external air filter housing that can easily open up to access the filter material. If it’s clogged with dust, simply lay down a thin strip of cardboard across the opening, leaving about half an inch hanging over each end.

Secure it in place with a rubber band or tape. Then use your leaf blower to blow air into the housing and push most of the dust out through the openings on either end. Next, remove the filter material and shake as much loose debris as possible. Repeat as needed until it looks clean inside.

7) Method 7 – Using WD-40

WD-40 is a popular brand of penetrating oil and lubricant with the benefit of cleaning. Spray some into your air filter housing or directly onto the paper filter itself, then let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to work its way in. After that, you can blast out loose debris with compressed air and rinse the filter with water. Then, let it dry completely before using it again.

You Can Check It Out to Remove a Destroyed Oil Filter

Some Tips and Suggestions:

1) To remove the paper filter from the mower head, lift it out by holding both sides and pulling gently.

2) The air intake base will be placed with a nut on each side. Use adjustable pliers to undo each nut. Be sure not to lose them! If they are stubborn, spray them with WD-40 first and wait a few minutes for them to penetrate the threading.

3) Once both nuts have been removed, lift and pull out the base of the air intake assembly. This will be easier to do if you remove the spark plug wire first (if equipped). You should now see your paper filter.

4) If your filter looks very dirty, use a strong water jet from the hose to clean it thoroughly.

5) Once the filter is clean, it must be dried, so use a “compact air” handheld blower to direct a stream of warm air into the underside of the paper. The hot air will allow fast water evaporation within the paper fibers.

6) To remove the paper filter from your weed whip, use the surface-leveling button to lift it off. Cut off any excess material until it is flush with the black plastic cylinder that holds the paper filter.

Tips and Suggestions to clean lawnmow

7) The air intake should now be clean and dry, so screw it back into place. Be careful not to cross-thread when reinserting the nuts onto their studs!


Paper air filters are essential for lawn mowers because they help keep debris out of your engine. Cleaning a lawnmower paper air filter is a simple and inexpensive way to improve the performance of your lawnmower. To do so, you will need some basic supplies such as safety goggles, gloves, oil for lubrication if required, a water hose or bucket with soap, and clean cloths.

Remember to put the paper filter back in place and secure it with a clamp when you’re done. Remember that many other filters are also available for your lawnmower, depending on the machine’s various engines. Be sure that you change them every six months for optimal performance, and if you need help with how to clean a lawn mower paper air filter, we’re here to assist!

Check out our article How to Make a Turbo Lawn Mower

Jennifer Branett
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