A theme image showing a lawn mower on green grass.

Mowing in the Dust

If you are like me and have a lot of trees on your property, then chances are you will be kicking up dust when you mow during the dog days of summer. Or even when it hasn’t rained for a few days. Your mower is like you. It does not enjoy inhaling dust. It can handle dust short term, but long-term issues are bound to happen without some simple preventative maintenance.

Dust and Air Filters

Air filters are the first line of defense. Without an air filter, dust and debris would make its way into a mower’s choke or carburetor. Unfortunately, air filters can only hold so much debris. Once they are visibly dirty, they less effective at protecting the mower’s internals. It is a good idea to change filters at least once a season. Sometimes more. It all depends on just how much dust the mower is exposed to. Both name brand and off brand products work. Look for the best value for your money, as these filters, although important, are ultimately disposable.

Carb and Choke Cleaner Sprays

I highly recommend you keep a choke cleaner spray on hand. Typically, they are effective at cleaning out a mower’s internals, in addition to its externals. That’s right – several brands can even be used to wash mowers!

While different brands have different directions, it is typically a good idea to spray into the mower’s exhaust and choke when the engine is cool and the mower is off and to let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes — the spray needs to evaporate before the mower starts up again easily. Alternatively, you can spray the product into the mower’s choke as it is running. Be sure to spray off an on (half second spray, 10 seconds rest) so that the mower keeps running during the process. Finally, the product can also be used (albeit to a limited extent) to clean off air filters!

Please follow the above instructions with caution. Always follow the instructions on the product’s label to clean out dust and debris from the mower, both inside and out!

Starting Fluid

Small gas engines are hard to start in colder weather. They can also be hard to start after an internal cleaning spray. As such, starter fluid is another must-have product. Follow the instructions with care, as this spray is highly flammable. Spray a small amount of it into a mower’s choke, put the bottle far out of the way, and try to start the mower as usual. It should start right up.

If you find yourself using this type of spray on a regular basis in spite of preventative maintenance, it may be time for regular maintenance (a good maintenance routine is typically done once per year). A good place to start would be changing the spark plug and oil.

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