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Extend the Life of Your Riding Lawn Mower: The Secret to a Clean Deck

Extend the Life of Your Riding Lawn Mower: The Secret to a Clean Deck

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Using a Riding lawnmower makes what used to be a weekly burden so much more bearable. Riding lawn mowers are generally more reliable than push or walk-behind lawnmowers; in fact, the only downside of a riding lawnmower is that you don’t get your weekly exercise anymore. A riding lawnmower is a sensible investment if your garden’s size justifies it.

There are several ways you can clean your riding on a lawnmower’s deck. Depending on the make of the lawnmower, some have hosepipe attachments, and all you do is turn the tap and let the water do the work; others require you to get down and dirty by removing the deck and using a scraper.

The reason you need to clean the riding lawnmower deck is not for appearances but rather a vital maintenance function that will ensure the longevity of your riding lawnmower. Whichever method of cleaning your riding lawnmower’s deck, which your make of lawnmower requires, we recommend that you set up a schedule and clean it regularly.

Method for Cleaning a Riding Lawn Mowers Deck

Because Riding Lawn Mowers usually are so reliable, regular maintenance items often get overlooked. Because they are so easy to use, it is tempting to simply fill the riding lawnmower up with petrol, check the oil, and go.

If this is your pattern, we urge you to take a little more time to ensure that the riding lawnmower is in good shape.

The underside of riding lawnmowers is subject to harsh usage conditions. Depending on the riding lawnmower model, two to three blades spin between 2800 to 3200 RPM.

On average, the tip speed of the blades on riding lawn mowers is 250mph (400kph), that’s way faster than a Formula 1 car; at the point where the blades pass each other, the combined speed is 500mp (800kph).

Although you should preclear the area you will mow of rocks and sticks, it is easy to miss some, and these get thrown up onto the underside of the deck of the riding lawnmower.

The impact forces of these “foreign” objects are enormous and can cause damage.

Not only is cleaning the deck of the riding lawnmower a way to ensure the airflow within the deck is operating as it should, but it is also a perfect opportunity for you to carry out visual checks on the underside of the lawnmower.

How to Clean a Riding Lawnmowers Deck

There are three circumstances where riding lawnmower deck cleaning should be employed.

Cleaning a Riding Lawnmower Deck After Cutting Wet Grass

Cutting wet grass with your riding lawn mower is not recommended.

Although it is sometimes unavoidable, there are good reasons why you should not cut wet grass with your riding lawnmower.

  1. Wet grass is harder to cut, even for sharp blades.
  2. If there are unpainted spots on the underside of the deck of the riding lawnmower (and with stone chips etc., there will be), rust will start to form, which needs to be maintained.
  3. If the ground is soggy, you may get unsightly wheel ruts caused by the riding lawnmower.
  4. Riding lawn mowers struggle with wet clippings, and they build up until large enough and get spat out as moist clumps. If you don’t collect these, they will smother and kill the grass they sit on and leave behind ugly dead spots.
  5. After a rain, lawn diseases are more likely. After a shower, cutting the lawn spreads these diseases more quickly than cutting dry grass. If you are struggling with a weed problem spreading wet weed seeds could worsen an infestation.

Despite this, if it is unavoidable to cut the grass when it is wet, you should clean the riding lawn mower deck as follows.

  1. If you have intense water pressure, the simplest way is to purchase a lawn sprinkler head that you can ride over. Turn the sprinkler on and let the water pressure remove any grass which has clumped up and stuck on the underside of the deck of the riding lawnmower.
  2. If you have one available, take a compressed air blower and clean the underside and top of the deck with the air.
  3. Leave the riding lawnmower to air dry before storing it.

Cleaning a Riding Lawnmowers Deck After Cutting Dry Grass

After you have used the riding lawnmower, it is good to practice inspecting it and cleaning off all dust and grass clippings that have been collected.

  1. As in the above example, if your water pressure is strong enough, ride over a lawn sprinkler head that is switched on; this will clean loose grass and leaves collected on the underside of the deck of the riding lawnmower.
  2. If the pressure is not strong enough, and you have a power washer, you should use this. Ensure you avoid any electrical connections and that the fuel and oil tanks are firmly sealed.
  3. Avoid the bearings at the blade and spindle attachment points and the wheel bearings.
  4. Preferably do this early on a sunny day and then leave the riding lawnmower to airdry.

Deep Cleaning a Riding Lawnmowers Deck Every Three Months

If you have been cleaning the deck of the riding lawnmower after each lawn cutting, it should be relatively clean without any significant build-up.

Despite this, it is recommended that you do a full clean every three months depending on the lawn conditions. You will need to remove the deck of the riding lawnmower.

Most modern riding lawnmowers decks are straightforward and generally involve removing a few circlips, removing the attachment rods, and carefully pulling the deck from under the riding lawnmower.

The advantages of cleaning a riding lawnmower every 3 months are:

  1. The removal of any hard baked-on crud from the bottom of the deck of the riding lawnmower.
  2. Checking for any damage under the riding lawnmower deck.
  3. Checking for and treating any rust which may have developed.
  4. Checking, and where necessary, tightening the screws holding the blade spindles, shafts, and pulleys. Tightening up a spindle housing that has become loose will save you a fortune in future repair costs.
  5. Checking the belts and ensuring they are still in good order.
  6. Monitoring the condition of the drive belts or gears.
  7. Checking the condition of the blades.

How to Clean the Removed Deck

  1. Be careful around the blades and use a putty knife or scraper to remove the large chunks of caked-on debris.
  2. Use a power washer on its gentle setting to thoroughly wet the deck of the riding lawnmower and allow the balance of the dirt to soften.
  3. When you have given it a little time, turn the power washer to its highest setting and thoroughly wash the remaining gunk away.
  4. Roughly dry the riding lawnmower deck with a cloth and allow it to air dry in the sun to get all moisture off.

Here is a tip recommended by most lawnmower experts. Spray a coating of vegetable oil on the deck; this will help prevent the build-up of grass and dirt in the future.

Final Thoughts

Riding lawnmowers are handy machines, and although they are generally very reliable, minor maintenance and cleaning go a long way.

If you spend a little time after every use and conduct a deeper clean every few months, you will drastically improve your riding lawnmower’s reliability and life expectancy.


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