If you live somewhere that it snows, the most likely time you’ll need to store your lawnmower is in the winter. Snow will be covering the ground. Your grass will go dormant, turning brown and ceasing to grow until the weather gets warm again. Whatever your reason, the process of preparing your lawnmower for storage is the same.
In this article, we’re covering lawnmowers from push-reel mowers, which don’t use gas power, to ride-on mowers and other types that do.
When it comes to vehicles like RVs, jet skis, and motorcycles, we refer to the act of preparing them for winter storage as “winterization.” It’s the same for lawnmowers, though the process of winterizing a lawnmower is simpler.
When just sitting in an engine, gas degrades, causing engines to clog. If you simply put your gas-powered lawnmower in storage, the fuel will degrade in about a month. Also, if there’s too much empty space in a lawnmower engine, condensation can form, and that water can harm the system.
To prevent both problems, add a fuel stabilizer to gasoline in the engine. Some major brands include Sta-bil, Start Your Engines, and Toro. You’ll want to make sure the engine is nearly full and that you’re using the right ratio of gas to stabilizer so follow the instructions carefully. This can extend the life of the fuel for up to two years. Once you’ve added the right mixture, run the mower for a few minutes to ensure it circulates.
If you’re going to put your mower in a self-storage unit, you will need to drain the engine instead. No flammable materials are allowed in most units, the exception being vehicle storage. So, if you’re storing a large ride-on mower in a vehicle storage unit, you should keep the tank full. Otherwise, drain it.
The next step is removing the battery. Disconnect the negative terminal first. That’s the one with the minus sign on it. Next, disconnect the right.
To clean the battery, mix a tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of hot water. Mix well with an old toothbrush, then use the brush to scrub the battery. You can remove most corrosion this way. Remove corrosion from the ends of the battery cables by dipping them in very hot water. Dry them both with an absorbent cloth. Then, use a metal brush to scrub clean the terminals. Alternately, you can use a battery cleaner like CRC Battery Cleaner or Noco Remove+, and follow the instructions on the can. Add a bit of terminal protector, like CRC Battery Terminal Protector or Battery Protector and Sealer to keep the terminals from getting corroded or rusty.
Finally, you can clean the lawnmower itself. Before you put your lawnmower in storage it’s important to remove as much dirt, grass, and grit as possible. Start by spraying it down with your water hose. Tip it over so you can access the underside. The spark plug should be pointed toward the sky.
Put on thick, protective gloves and remove thick bits of grass and foliage. Next, spray the underside well with a hose to loosen grass and dirt that have dried to the bottom. Spray the underside with an all-purpose cleaner like Simple Green, then scrub the grime off the underside, including in small cracks, with a long cleaning brush. Once all this is clean and loosened, spray the bottom one more time to rinse it off.
To clean the top of the mower, set it upright again. Open the top, if there’s a cover that’s part of the mower, spray your cleaner inside, and scrub with the brush. If your mower has an air filter, remove it and rinse out the casing, then replace the old filter with a new one, and put it back in place once dry. Dry the inside, replace the housing cover, and wipe down the outside with a damp cloth.
You can now put your mower into storage. This could be in a storage shed on your property, or a garage. However, to keep it in the best condition possible, we encourage you to keep it in a climate-controlled self storage unit. This will help prevent condensation from forming in the tank. It will also keep any other belongings you store safe from excess heat, humidity, cold, or dryness.
With all these steps taken, your lawnmower should remain in excellent shape and be ready for you to use again when spring comes around.