April 1, 2015

How to keep grass clippings from sticking to a mower deck

By Erin Hynes
How to keep grass clippings from sticking to a mower deck.

Throughout the history of modern lawn care, there's been a quest to find the perfect solution to prevent grass buildup under the mower deck. Caked-on clippings disrupt the airflow essential for lifting the grass for a clean, even cut and for discharging the clippings. Grass buildup also encourages rust and corrosion.

The tips that follow discourage grass buildup. Still, after each mowing, turn the mower on its side—carburetor up—and brush or rinse off any loose clippings that managed to cling to the deck. Use a plastic ice scraper to remove any stuck-on clippings (a metal scraper can scratch the deck, giving rust an inroad).

Use a spray lubricant

Many people swear by using a spray lubricant such as MO-DECK to keep the grass from sticking. But WD-40 or even nonstick cooking spray—applied heavily—will work. These products can also help prevent rust and make cleaning the deck easier. Before applying, use a plastic ice scraper to remove any accumulated clippings.

Use a graphite coating

Applying a graphite coating to the underside of the deck has become very popular. Available under different brands as either an aerosol or liquid, the graphite coating is applied like paint to the underside of the deck. The graphite undercoating makes cleaning fast and easy. Start with a clean deck and follow the label instructions.

Mow only when it's dry

Grass is sticky when cut—there's no way around it. When you add water, cut grass can turn into a thick paste that's suitable as a building material. It may not always be convenient to wait until it's drier, but if you can spare the time to wait, do it.

Keep the clippings short

The shorter the grass clippings are, the easier it is for them to blow away from the mower. Cut no more than 1/3 the height of the grass. It's not only better for the mower deck—it's also healthier for the grass, because it leaves enough of the grass blade that the grass can keep on photosynthesizing.

Symptoms common to all riding mowers & tractors

Choose a symptom to see related riding mower and lawn tractor repairs.

Main causes: dead battery, stale fuel, bad starter solenoid, ignition system problem, bad ignition interlock switch, clogged carburetor
Main causes: punctured tire or inner tube, leaky valve stem, damaged wheel rim
Main causes: damaged tie rods, bent or worn wheel spindle, worn front axle, damaged sector gear assembly
Main causes: faulty battery, bad alternator
Main causes: engine overfilled with oil, leaky head gasket or sump gasket, damaged carburetor seals, cracked fuel pump, broken fuel line
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, worn deck pulley, damaged mandrel pulley, loose fasteners on mower deck components
Main causes: worn or broken ground drive belt, bad seat switch, transaxle freewheel control engaged, transaxle failure, dirty carburetor
Main causes: shift lever needs adjustment, neutral control needs adjustment
Main causes: unlevel mower deck, dull or damaged cutting blades, worn mandrel pulleys, bent mower deck, engine needs tune up
Repair guides common to all riding mowers & tractors

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your riding mower or lawn tractor.

How to replace a mandrel assembly on a riding lawn mower

Replace the mandrel assembly if the blade shaft vibrates or doesn't spin.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace the air filter on a riding lawn mower

Get your mower running smoothly again by replacing the air filter—it's a quick job you can do yourself, following these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
February 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower ignition switch

Get your mower started again by replacing the ignition switch—it's a quick job you can do by following these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Articles and videos common to all riding mowers & tractors

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your riding mower or lawn tractor.

May 1, 2017
Troubleshooting a riding lawn mower blown fuse video
By Erin Hynes

Test the ignition switch and wire harnesses to find the short.

June 1, 2016
How to mow a lawn for healthier grass
By Erin Hynes

How often and tall you mow your lawn has a big impact on its health. Check out these 3 rules.

March 1, 2016
How to level a riding lawn mower deck for an even cut video
By Erin Hynes

Mower not cutting the grass evenly? Your mower deck might be the problem.