Storing a lawn mower for the winter isn’t difficult, but there are several steps you should take before putting it away. This lawn mower storage guide will explain how to winterize a lawn mower correctly.

lawn mower storage tips - how to winterize a lawn mower

When storing a lawn mower for the winter, there is a wide range of recommendations. Some people go through every step meticulously. Others leave their mowers outside in the snow and hope for the best. The most important thing you can do when storing a lawn mower is to tend to the fuel system. Taking this step will dramatically reduce your chances of problems come the warm season.

While you’re at it, don’t stop there. No one wants to have to tinker with a broken mower or buy a new one at the start of every season. It’s worth it to prepare your lawn mower for winter like you would a car or boat, especially if you have an expensive riding mower.

These lawn mower storage steps will help maintain and increase the longevity of the equipment. Do as many as you can, and make sure you take all the proper precautions when winterizing your mower.

1. Drain Gas or Add a Fuel Stabilizer

lawn mower storage


There are two methods for lawn mower storage when it comes to gasoline. You can either leave the gas in the tank and stabilize it, or remove it completely. It’s never a good idea to just leave fuel in the tank without any intervention. Fuel can start to degrade in a month or two and can wreak havoc on the carburetor and fuel tank.

How to Remove Gas from a Lawn Mower

In some circumstances, it’s essential to remove all the gas from a mower when storing it for the winter. If you are keeping your lawnmower in your basement or inside a storage unit, remove all fuel. Not doing so is a fire hazard.

To drain gas from a lawn mower, do your best to let the tank run dry toward the end of the season. To accomplish this, run the mower until it stops and won’t restart again. Any remaining fuel can be siphoned out with a turkey baster.

How to Add Fuel Stabilizer to a Lawn Mower

If you are storing the lawn mower in a detached garage or shed, leave a fuel tank of gas and top it off with a fuel stabilizer. Once the stabilizer is added, run the mower for a couple minutes to be sure the stabilizer gets into the system.

2. Prevent Mower From Kick-Starting

Before you clean your lawn mower and prep it for storage, make sure you remove the spark plug. This will prevent the mower from being turned on accidentally, and the importance of this step cannot be underestimated.

3. Drain or Change Oil

how to winterize a lawn mower


If needed, it’s important to change a lawn mower’s oil at the end of every season. The first step is to figure out if you have a two-cylinder or four-cylinder lawn mower. Two cylinder motors have the oil and fuel in the same tank, in which case you can drain the oil along with the fuel. On four-cylinder motors, the oil will need to be changed similar to how you would on a car. Reference the lawn mower’s owner manual for specific instructions on how best to do this.

In general, you can follow these steps on most four-cylinder mowers:

  • Check the level of the oil by removing the dipstick.
  • Make sure the oil is warm, which can be accomplished by running the mower after adding fuel stabilizer or when draining the tank. If you waited for this step and the engine is cold, connect the spark plug temporarily and run the mower for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove spark plug again if you had to warm up the engine. If your mower has a battery, disconnect it.
  • Pull the oil plug and drain the oil into an oil-safe drain pan.
  • Properly dispose of used oil by bringing it to a recycling facility that can properly dispose of it.
  • Add new oil to the tank according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Lawn Mower Storage Pro Tip: If you have inconveniently positioned drain plugs, consider purchasing an oil extractor to help with this process.

4. Clean Deck and Undercarriage

A garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting will work well to clean the lawn mower deck. In theory, grass should be cleaned off after every mow. However, if bits of grass has dried and crusted onto the metal, make sure to remove it before storage. If necessary, take a wire brush, putty knife or a flat head screwdriver to scrape off anything that the hose didn’t clean.

Be careful of the mower blades and make sure to wear thick, durable gloves during this process. Once the undercarriage is clean and dry, use a silicone spray to prevent future build-up and better preserve the lawn mower.

5. Remove and Sharpen Blade

To remove the blade, lean your mower on its side with the carburetor facing up. Find a long-handled wrench that matches the bolt holding the blade in place. If the bolt is stuck in place and corroded, spray on some oil or lubricant and let it sit for a few minutes.

Once removed, sharpen each blade evenly. You don’t want to make the mistake of sharpening only one section because this could lead to an uneven lawn. To do this, clamp the blade in a vise and use a mill bastard file to file down the blade until it is as sharp as a butter knife.

Lawn Mower Storage Pro Tip: Mark the blade once you remove it with a paint pen, so you know which is the top and which is the bottom. One common mistake people make is to reinstall the blades upside down.

6. Replace Spark Plug and Air Filter.

how to winterize a lawn mower

At this point, the spark plug should already be disconnected. Use a wrench or pliers to completely remove the plug. Take the plug with you to the store to make sure you purchase the correct replacement. Next, screw in the new plug and either reconnect the wire or leave it disconnected for storage.

Before storing a lawn mower for the winter, you’ll want to either clean or replace the air filter. Some lawn mower filters are made of paper and should always be replaced when they look dirty. Other foam or plastic filters can be cleaned, dried, and then coated with a few tablespoons of oil before being reinstalled.While you’re at it, use a spray lubricant to coat any exposed lawn mower components.

7. Keep Mower Covered In Storage

To protect the exterior and interior components, consider investing in a lawn mower cover. If you don’t have a cover readily accessible, you can use a tarp.

We hope this article put you off to a good start so you know what to expect when you store your lawn mower. Whenever possible, make sure to reference the owners manual. If you don’t have a copy, most times the manufacturer will have a copy online that you can download.

Looking for a place to store your lawn mower for the season? We can help! Life Storage offers monthly storage unit rentals for short-term seasonal storage at hundreds of facilities across the US. We recommend at least a 5’x10′ size unit for storing your lawn mower. Keeping your lawn mower in a climate-controlled storage unit will keep everything in tip top shape so it is ready for when you need to use it again.

Did we miss any lawn mower storage tips? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at and Martha Stewart.

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