Lawn Mower Winter Storage

Lawn Mower Winter Storage Tips

Have a lawnmower and winter is approaching? If you’re wondering what steps you need to take to properly winterize your mower so it starts up easily in the spring, I’ve got you covered. This article will provide my best lawn mower winter storage tips and the steps you need to take to make sure that your mower is ready to go when the grass starts growing again after the snow melts.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S., a member of our expert panel

Why Winterizing Your Lawn Mower is Important

Any time your lawn mower will be sitting for a long time there can be a number of issues. The gas can go bad, you can ruin the carb, the mowing deck can rust.

Winterizing your lawn mower is the easy way to ensure that your lawn mower doesn’t deteriorate when it’s sitting in the off-season. It’s not expensive or time consuming, and it will save you time, money and aggravation in the long run.

So let’s go over my top lawn mower winter storage steps:

  • Clean the Mower and Undercarriage/Mowing Deck
  • Stabilize the Fuel or Remove the Gas
  • Remove & Replace the Spark Plug
  • Remove the Blade and Sharpen (or set it aside to sharpen during the winter)
  • Remove and Maintain the Battery Until Use
  • Consider Changing the Oil (now or in the spring)

Below, I provide details and my best tips for performing each mower winterization project. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Clean the Mower and Undercarriage

Like any other lawn and outdoor machine, your mower will get dirty after a long hot summer. Before you put it away for the winter, make sure too clean as much of the dirt and grime off as you can.

Take any excess leaves, sticks and branches, mud and grass, that are clinging to the mower and remove them.

Clean the Mower Deck / Undercarriage Prior to Putting it Away for the Winter

Take your time to brush any hard material off first and then water down and hose the mower. This will eliminate any residue from sticking to the outer part of the mower. Make a strong effort to wipe down the mower and make sure there isn’t any water left behind. This can cause rusting and further damage to the body if not taken care of.

Afterward, repeat the same process after tilting the mower on its side and getting any excessive dirt or debris that may latch on to the blade and the inside of the mower deck. Use any tool small and flexible enough to get the hard to reach places in the undercarriage (I use a small wire brush for this).

Without doing this, you can expect rust to develop and clog of the passageway of the discharge chute. Your lawn mower blade will also dull faster if it’s rusting.

Lawn Mower Gas Tank Winterization

Engine maintenance is extremely important. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may have been invented for small engines, because if you defer maintenance you can expect problems (and probably you should budget for a new lawn mower).

The good news is that keeping your engine running well, before any complications occur, can be easily accomplished.  Like many of the things mentioned, first, clean the mower before playing around with the engine.

To prevent sticking and rusting in your mower’s carburetor, remove any gas that’s leftover in the mower at the end of the season. Untreated gas that’s left in the tank may cause clogging in the fuel system, which will cause significant difficulties when ready to be used the next season.

What the Experts Say

According to Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative extension consumer horticulturist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, “problems that can occur with small motors is caused by the presence of ethanol in the fuel available at most gas pumps.” While ethanol is a natural, plant-based additive that’s useful in extending the fuel supply, it “will break down the rubber components of small engines,” according to Westerfield.

How to Winterize Your Lawn Mower

Additionally, when stored for extended periods of time, regular gas will go bad, so you shouldn’t leave your gas in the tank anyway.

What Experience Has Taught Me

If your mower is going to be sitting a while, you can add a fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL (Amazon link) to eliminate the task of having to drain fuel before storing your lawn mower for the winter. Alternately you can use TruFuel or another ethanol free gas (this is what I do in my lawn equipment).

Start the mower and allow the stabilizer to dribble in through the system.  Shut the mower down and wait for the mower to cool down. Next, draw out any surplus gas into a can. Make sure not to mix this gas with oil. Run the mower again, turning it on and off after it stops each time until the fuel that’s out of the tank and already in the mower is out.

As I mentioned, I use TruFuel (Amazon link) in my mower, which is an ethanol-free gasoline that burns clean. I don’t drain my mower before letting it sit for the winter, and it starts up first-pull every year (the same goes for my snow-blower and I use the 2-cycle Trufuel for my edger).

It’s more expensive than regular gas, but if you’re looking for a low-maintenance solution that will help your equipment last, this is it.

How to Winterize Your Lawn Mower’s Spark Plug

Take it out! Before you begin any work on your lawn mower, remove the spark plug to avoid the mower from starting up accidentally.

How to Winterize a Lawn Mower

Replace the spark plug with a spark-plug socket for the winter to protect the spark-plug’s casing. Spark plugs are inexpensive, so even if it looks like it’s in good shape, I’d swap it out for a new one next spring.

I hang on to the old ones in a shoe box in the garage so if I have an issue one day, I don’t have to run to the store because I have some that will probably work.

An additional tip from Emily Halstead, a news writer at Kansas State Extension, is that when you replace your spark plug, “before putting the new one in, place a few drops of oil inside the hole to lubricate the cylinder.”

Removing an Old Lawn Mower Spark Plug

This tip will make sense to anyone who has struggled to free an old plug from a mower at the end of the year.

Prepare Your Lawn Mower Blades for Winter

Protect and preserve your lawn mower’s blade so that it won’t rust and dull over the winter.

Before you begin cleaning anything under your mower, make sure to remove the spark plug so there’s no chance of it starting.

I also recommend that you always protect your hands before dealing with the blades by wearing gloves or protective gear. When you’re ready, undo the bolts holding the blades in and set the blade somewhere safe. I like to bring a sharpie and mark the blade (top/bottom) so I don’t accidentally reinstall them the wrong way.

Remove the Mower Blade for Sharpening

Always take the blades out and clean them separately from the undercarriage. If you can, sharpen the blades yourself or take the blades into your nearest hardware store to be sharpened.

Personally, I sharpen my mower blades over the winter. It’s a nice little weekend project I can enjoy during the winter when it’s not possible to get outside in the yard where I love to be. Plus, it’s a good way to look ahead and dream about spring!

A tip I got from a friend – use a sharpie to mark the direction of the blade and to write “Top” / “Bottom” on it. This ensures that when you re-install it you will make sure the blade is mounted properly in your mower. It’ll save you the hassle of pulling out your phone and trying to research which way to install a lawn mower blade.

What About Your Lawn Mower’s Battery?

If you have a pull-cord to start your mower you can ignore this one, but if you have a riding mower then you should respect your mower’s battery like you would your car.

What happens when you allow your car battery to sit out in the cold after not running it for some time? The same applies to your mower.

  • First, remember to remove cables – negative cable first.
  • Next, wipe off the battery with a clean cloth.
  • Then, use a battery cleaner or metal brush to clean out the battery terminal.
  • Afterward, store the battery somewhere safe, away from any gas and oil cans, a heater or furnace.

Frequently, every few weeks or more, run your battery to make sure it’s still retaining a charge.

Always make sure to keep the battery charge around 25 and 50 percent. After not being used for a while, some batteries may discharge.

Check your manual to see what is required of your battery and plan accordingly.          

Winter Storage for Different Types of Mowers

While the general storage tips I’ve provided are helpful, the process varies a bit depending upon what type of mower you have.

Here’s a winter mower storage checklist for walk-behind and riding mowers:

Walk-Behind Lawn Mower

  1. Empty the fuel
  2. Remove the battery (you might not have one)
  3. Take out the spark plug
  4. Change the oil
  5. Remove the mower’s blades
  6. Scrape the undercarriage
  7. Sharpen the blades
  8. Wash and polish the mower
  9. Store in a safe area

Riding Lawn Mower

  1. Empty the fuel
  2. Run the battery
  3. Remove the battery and store it in a safe place
  4. Check the oil
  5. Spray and hose down the mower
  6. Spray underneath to clean undercarriage
  7. Check tire pressure
  8. Store in a safe area

Lawn Mower Winter Storage: It’s Not Complicated

Generally speaking, you want to keep your mower cleaned and in the same shape you bought it in. Check tires, handles, wheels, decks, undercarriage, battery, gas and oil, and anything that may limit how your mower functions if it is not maintained.

Storing Lawn Mower for the Winter

Having cleaning materials around is important, especially material that is specific to your type of mower. Read your manual and learn what you can clean with and what you’re not allowed to clean. Aside from blade sharpening, these steps should be carried out to preserve your mower for use.

Take your time, do this before the first snowfall, and make sure to keep mowers and materials away from children and flammable materials that may pose threats.

Whether you have a push mower or a rider, you should take care of your lawn equipment to ensure longevity. Don’t spend your money on a new mower if you don’t have to!

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.


Additional Resources
  • Garden Tool Storage by Janet B. Carson, Extension Horticulture Specialist, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (link)
  • Prepare motorized lawn equipment for winter storage by Bob Westerfield, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (link)
  • Prepping Your Lawnmower for Winter by Emily Halstead, K-State Research and Extension (link)


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

2 thoughts on “Lawn Mower Winter Storage Tips

  1. Sarah,
    Thank you for your very informative website on lawn and mower care. I had never heard of TruFuel until I read your info here, and just ordered 1 for my 2 cycle Echo trimmer, and 2 for my 4 cycle Toro personal pace mower(model 200095, bought new in spring, 2008). I hate having to mix the gas and oil every season, so this should take care of that conundrum.
    Your mower reviews were very helpful, too. I wish there were more major brand electric ones made, but thus far, I only see Toro makes them.
    I first started mowing my parents lawn in PA in 1965. The following year, my Dad bought a great mower, Lawn Boy, model 8224. It was 2 cycle, and mowed 1/3 acre lawn great. It did need lots of home owner care, though.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Ron!

      I agree with you about the electric mowers, though they’ve come a long way in a hurry already. A friend of mine down the street has an EGO electric mower and loves it. Unless I look out my window I have no idea when she’s mowing because I can’t hear it at all! I own a Honda self propelled 21″ mower and wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s the best mower I’ve ever used.

      Best of luck with your lawn this year, and thanks for reading!

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