How to Winterize Your Lawn Mower in 8 Easy Steps & Other Yard Tools

If you’re like me and used to think that your lawnmower could simply hang out in your garden shed all winter, you’re in the right place.

We now know that winterizing your lawn mower is something you should do without fail every fall.

But what does this actually mean?

Keep reading to find out exactly how to winterize your lawnmower in 8 easy steps.

I’ve also gone over what you should consider doing with the rest of your yard tools too. After all, it’s often not just the lawnmower hanging out for winter without a lot of action.

Quick Read

For those of you in a rush, your checklist for ensuring that you have adequately prepared your lawnmower for winter is:

  1. Add a Fuel Stabilizer
  2. Disconnect the Sparkplug
  3. Remove and Sharpen the Blade
  4. Drain the Oil
  5. Clean the Undercarriage
  6. Check the Air Filter
  7. Replace the Sparkplug
  8. Consider Storing the Battery Elsewhere

Skip to the end if you want to know how to winterize lawn equipment other than your lawnmower.

person maintain push lawnmower

Why Should I Winterize My Lawnmower?

Winterizing your lawnmower is simply taking a few steps to ensure that it doesn’t degrade unnecessarily while it’s sitting unused and exposed to cold, damp weather conditions.

Chances are, there are plenty of people who don’t take these measures religiously every fall. But as a result, their equipment is also likely to wear out more quickly and need replacing sooner.

It’s easier on your wallet and the environment if you take care of your stuff so that it can last you as long as possible.

Furthermore, winterizing your lawnmower will mean that come spring, it will start easily and do a good job of cutting your grass, running smoothly with a clean sharp blade and happy engine.

Failing to prepare your lawnmower for winter could mean that you have a tricky job getting it started or getting it to work at all once the weather warms.

If you’re wondering how to winterize lawnmower, the next 8 steps are all you need.

While you’re here, if you’re wondering whether there are any steps you should take to prepare your lawn for winter too, then check out my article on winterizing your lawn.

man using a gas-powered lawn mower

How to Winterize Your Lawnmower in 8 Simple Steps

Add a Stabilizer to the Gas

Stabilizing the gas in your lawnmower is an essential step in winterizing your lawnmower.

Did you know that gasoline, or petrol, degrades really quickly? In as little as 30 days, gas can start to separate and can result in corrosion on the inside of the engine.

Adding a stabilizer will prevent this degradation and allow your mower to sit comfortably until spring.

Many websites recommend draining the gas and leaving the mower empty for the winter, but this may actually do more harm than good. This article explains why you shouldn’t drain the gas but add a stabilizer instead.

Disconnect the Spark Plug

Disconnecting the spark plug is an important safety step that you should take before doing anything to the undercarriage of your lawnmower. Removing your sparkplug will prevent the lawnmower from accidentally starting by itself.

Have a quick watch of this video if you’re not sure what or where the spark plug is.

Remove and Sharpen the Blade

This step is optional depending on how old your mower is and how dirty it is. If you’ve been using your mower for a few years then chances are, there’s a fair bit of crud built up in the undercarriage and removing the blade will make this area easier and safer to clean.

Removing the blade is also necessary if it needs sharpening. Sharpening the blade is easier and simpler than it sounds. Simply get set up with a tool file (about $10 from your hardware store). This video below will show you how.

Drain the Oil

Oil sitting in your mower all winter will turn into a gross, mucky sludge. It won’t do its job and could actually harm your mower. Instead, removing the oil is one of the most important things you can do to winterize your lawnmower.

Lay the lawnmower on its side with the carburetor and air filter facing upwards and open the oil reservoir. Drain the oil into a container that you can then take to your gas station to recycle.

Be sure to not simply chuck this used oil in the trash as it is a toxic chemical.

Scrape the Undercarriage

The underside of lawnmowers are notorious for accruing a build-up of mashed-up grass clippings.

This build-up can harbor moisture which can corrode the paint and eventually cause your lawnmower to rust – something you definitely don’t want!

Giving the undercarriage of your lawnmower a quick scrape or blast with the garden hose is worth doing and all that is needed. Just be sure that it’s lying on its side with the carburetor and air filter upwards to ensure that any remaining oil and gas don’t leak into them.

Check the Air Filter

Remove the air filter and clean out excess debris by giving it a tap on the inside of your trash can. A clean air filter will mean that your lawnmower’s engine runs more efficiently.

Clean or Replace Spark Plug

Before replacing the spark plug, give it a clean with a wire brush and a rag and check it over.

If it’s looking a little worse for wear, replacing it with a new one (a few bucks from your hardware store) will ensure your mower starts first time come spring.

Consider Removing the Battery

Whether or not you remove your lawnmower’s battery depends on where the lawnmower will be stored for the winter.

If your lawnmower is going to be outside in the shed, exposed to freezing temperatures and possibly damp conditions, removing the battery and storing it somewhere cool (but not freezing) and dry will prolong its life.

Congratulations on successfully winterizing your lawnmower!

If you’re wondering whether there is anything you should be doing at other times of the year to look after your lawnmower, then have a read of my lawnmower maintenance checklist.

And if you’re in the market for a new lawnmower but aren’t sure which type to go for, have a read of my guide to the different types of lawnmowers and choose the right model for your yard.

Lawnmower turned upside down

Winterizing Other Yard Equipment

Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized the importance of winterizing your lawn mower. But what about other yard equipment?

If you wondering whether the same rules apply to different types of lawn care tools, you’re right.

It is important to think about how to appropriately store anything that is going to be sitting unused for an extended period of time, especially if it is going to be exposed to cold temperatures.

And, while this is mainly important for power tools, unpowered tools also appreciate a little TLC come winter.

Gas Powered Tools

Gas-powered yard tools that benefit from some pre-winter care might include trimmers, leaf blowers and chain saws.

The steps for winterizing any gas powered tool are almost the same as those laid out for lawnmowers above. The main things to ensure are that the tools are clean and dry, and that any fuel and oil has been stabilized and removed, respectively.

It’s also worth cleaning or replacing the spark plugs, giving the air filters a quick clean, and checking carefully for rust.

If you do find any rust, clean it off and apply an anti-rust paint to prevent further corrosion.

Last but not least, give any moving parts a helping hand by adding some lubrication. This is particularly important for chainsaws.

gardener mows the lawn with trimmer near to lawn mower tractor

Battery Operated Tools

Almost any gas powered yard tool has battery-powered equivalents that are worth considering. (Battery-powered tools are quieter, lighter, better for the environment and cost less to run.)

When it comes to winterizing battery-operated yard tools, making sure they are clean and dry for winter is really important. However, if it’s possible, you may also want to remove the battery and store it somewhere with more favorable conditions than your garage shed.

You can extend the life of a battery by keeping it in a cool, dry environment and avoiding exposing it to extremes of temperatures and humidity. A garage is a better place than a garden shed, provided you can put it on a high shelf and keep it out of reach of children.

When spring arrives and you’re ready to use your tools again, simply give each battery a full charge with a battery charger prior to its first use of the season.

Unpowered Tools

As mentioned above, while gas-powered and battery-operated tools take the lion’s share of winterizing work, your unpowered tools will still appreciate some pre-winter TLC to keep them in ship shape.

Tools with metal parts like shovels, rakes and hoes, should be cleaned of any soil and kept dry to prevent rust.

If you do notice the beginnings of some rust, scrape it off with a wire brush and consider adding some non-oxidizing mineral oil with a rag to prevent further rust from setting in.

If you have wooden handled tools where the varnish has worn off, aside from keeping them clean and dry, you could consider giving them a light sand and rub with a wood oil like teak or linseed to help repel moisture and extend their lives.

reel mower blades close up


Should I drain oil from lawn mower for winter?

Yes! Draining the oil from your mower before winter is one of the most important things you can do to look after your lawnmower. The one caveat to this is if the oil is new. If the oil is new, you can leave it in for the winter, but if it’s old, it should definitely be removed.

Can I use gas from last year in my mower?

Whether you can use gas from the previous year in your mower depends on whether the gas was stabilized or not. If stabilizer had been added, then the gas should be ok to use. But if stabilizer hadn’t been added then the gas will likely have degraded and need replacing.

Should you remove gas from lawn mower for winter?

No, you don’t need to remove the gas from your lawnmower for winter, but you do need to add a fuel stabilizer to ensure that the gas doesn’t degrade.

Is it better to drain gas or use stabilizer?

Contrary to popular opinion, is better for the life of your lawnmower’s engine to add a stabilizer rather than draining the gas. Draining the gas can damage the carburetor.

How long can I leave gas in my mower?

Depending on the type of gasoline, gas without stabilizer shouldn’t be left in your mower for more than 30 days. To extend its life to 12 months, add a stabilizer.

What happens if you don’t winterize lawn mower?

If you don’t winterize your lawnmower, you may have trouble starting it in the spring, and the degraded oil and gas may have damaged the engine. Overall, not winterizing your lawnmower shortens its life.

Remembering to winterize lawnmowers and other yard tools can be a big ask in today’s busy world. Using a lawn care calendar can help take the pressure off and guide you through the year month by month.


Hopefully, by now you’re feeling confident that you know how to winterize lawnmowers and are up to the task.

It doesn’t need to take long or cost any money, but it will definitely save you time and money in the spring.

Winterizing lawn tools is mostly about making sure they are clean and dry and not going to corrode over the winter months.

But, if you only choose two things to do from the list above, make them removing the oil and stabilizing the gas.

While your lawnmower would thank you for completing all 8 steps, if you’re pushed for time, sorting the oil and gas will save you from the worst of the problems that can come from not winterizing your lawnmower.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article so please chuck a comment below and let me know what you think!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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