Don’t Forget To Clean Your Lawn Mower Deck!

If you’re a diligent hobby farmer who takes good care of your farm machinery, you’ll want to clean the deck of your lawn mower on a regular basis.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Think swashbuckling pirates are the only folks who bother with swabbing decks? Think again! If you’re a diligent hobby farmer who takes good care of your farm machinery, you’ll want to swab away at the mowing deck of your lawn or garden tractor on a regular basis.

Hobby farmers are busy folks. It can be tempting to let some machinery maintenance tasks slide during hectic times of year.

During the peak of spring—when grass grows out of control, but countless other tasks demand your attention—just staying on top of mowing can present enough of a challenge. Finding time to clean the mower deck on a regular basis can seem impossible.

Read more: Here are 4 types of tractors you might consider for a small farm.

Clean That Lawn Mower Deck

But regular deck cleanings are an important step in lawn mower maintenance. And we’re not just talking about brushing off the leaves and grass clippings from the top of the deck!

Over time, grass clippings can accumulate under the deck. This creates hard-packed buildups that reduce mower performance. Eventually, they can clog the deck, interfering with proper mowing performance and increasing strain on the engine.

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Some mower decks include wash ports, allowing you to connect a hose to the deck and run water to rinse out fresh grass clippings. Use this feature on a regular basis, and you can save a lot of trouble.

Drop the Deck

But if your deck doesn’t have a wash port (or if you don’t use it often enough), removing the lawn mower mower deck may prove necessary to give it the thorough cleaning it needs.

Unsure how to remove the mower deck? Consult the user manual for instructions.

Once the deck is out from under the mower, brush away any debris across the top. Clean out crevices where stuff likes to gather. Then flip the deck upside down and examine the real point of interest—the underside, where the blades operate.

Your first thought might be, “this doesn’t look too bad,” but buildups of grass clippings can wear so smooth you’ll struggle to tell how large they actually are.

Read more: When removing the mower deck, make sure you have the right tools!

Scrape off the Buildup

Grab an appropriate tool—a chisel or large screwdriver—and start scraping away the buildup. Don’t be surprised if the clippings are deeper and more abundant than they first appeared.

Continue scraping away at the buildup, carefully rotating the blades as necessary to access all areas. On a related note, this is a good time to sharpen or change the blades if needed.

And if you’re scraping away a lot of buildup, it’s probably been awhile since the blades last received your attention. Even if you’re on a regular maintenance schedule and the blades are in fine shape, removing them can make cleaning the deck a bit easier.

Read more: Does your lawn mower need new blades?

Spray Away

Once you’ve scraped away as much of the buildup as you can, go ahead and spray the deck with a hose, rinsing everything away. If a few chunks of buildup still remain, tackle them now and rinse the deck again.

Leave the clean deck in the sun until it’s dry, then follow the user manual to reattach the deck to your tractor.

Congratulations! You’re caught up cleaning your lawn mower deck. Now give it a test run—your mower is bound to thank you by running smoothly and cutting cleanly, with reduced strain on the engine. Stay on a regular maintenance schedule, and you can keep it this way!

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