How To Clean Chainsaw Air Filter

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Do you have a chainsaw with dirty air filters, and you’re struggling to clean it because you don’t know the right way to do it? If yes, then this is just the right place for you to be.

Cleaning chainsaw air filter is easier than you think and can be done within minutes if you know the right steps. To clean the chainsaw air filter, you will need to locate the air filter, eliminate the air filter, clean the air filter with soap and water, get done with the covers, and put back the air filter. The different ways to clean the air filter are by tapping it on a hard surface, using an air compressor, using static fluid sprays, and using soapy water. Once you have washed the air filters, remember to dry them completely using a clean cloth. Despite cleaning the air filter, you’ll need to replace it at least once annually.

In this article, you will get to know all about cleaning chainsaw air filters, how to clean chainsaw air filters, different ways to clean chainsaw air filters, is it safe to wash a chainsaw air filter, when to clean the chainsaw air filter, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Cleaning Chainsaw Air Filter

The air filter in a chainsaw is responsible for keeping it safe and secure by allowing clean air to reach the engine and carburetor. Over time, dirt can result in wear and tear in your chainsaw, so you’ll need to clean the air filter of your chainsaw to get fruitful performance. 

However, it can be quite tricky to know how to clean chainsaw air filter, especially if you haven’t done it before. But you should keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. If you don’t clean the chainsaw air filters, it can be fatal to your chainsaw. Dirty, blocked, and damaged air filters are among the main reasons many chainsaw users experience issues regarding overheating, performing poorly, or giving out excessive emissions. By keeping the air filter in the best possible condition, you will be able to get years and years of reliable and uninterrupted use from your chainsaw.

On average, a chainsaw will inhale more air than humans. To prevent the combustion chamber from failing, regular air filter cleaning will be vital. This will eliminate particulate matter that can potentially clog chainsaws. This will definitely be a major inconvenience when you are finding grimy and dusty air filters. This is why you will have to know how to clean chainsaw air filters, as it’ll allow you to prevent such situations.

How to Clean Chainsaw Air Filter

Generally, chainsaw air filters are not exposed to external objects. An air filter is well-protected so that it can provide its importance to the whole chainsaw. Eventually, it becomes dirty and you will need to clean it. Here is a simple way to clean the air filter in your chainsaw  –

Step 1: Gather the tools

Before starting, there are a few tools that you will need to gather. The tools that you will require are –

  • 2 buckets of water
  • Soap
  • A hand bristle brush or toothbrush 
  • Access to cold and hot water

Step 2: Locate the air filter and remove its cover

Most chainsaws are constructed differently. Generally, you will find the air filter on the top of the equipment or just behind the engine. You should locate the raised region on your chainsaw’s body that has openings for proper air circulation. Then, remove the screws from the lid using a screwdriver. After that, you need to take off its cover and keep it in a safe place.

Step 3: Eliminate the air filter

Under the cover, you will find another cover aside from the rear engine. Through the screwdriver, you should lose its screws before removing the cap gently. Now, take out the air filter for cleaning.

Step 4: Carry out the cleaning

Fill up the bucket with hot and soapy water. Then, tap the plastic edges of the air filter to loosen the dirt particles. After that, scrub the filter gently using a toothbrush to remove dust particles in the sudsy water. Moreover, you should allow the debris to settle in the bottom of the bucket.  Once you are finished with the cleaning, you should put the air filter in a bucket of cold water for eliminating any soapy residue. Then, set it aside and dry it with a clean cloth.

Step 5: Clean the covers

 To save your air filter from getting contaminated once more, you should clean the covers too. Make use of the hot water bucket ad rub the covers. After that, rinse them with cold water. Set them aside before drying them with a clean cloth.

Step 6: Put back the air filter

Once the cleaning process is over and the pieces have dried, you should fasten them back in your chainsaw.

How to Clean an Air Filter in a Husqvarna Chainsaw

Different Ways to Clean a Chainsaw Air Filter

An air filter can get clogged with dust particles. This decreases the amount of clean air that is being received by your chainsaw’s combustion chamber. Moreover, it will also bring down the power of your chainsaw and result in excessive fuel consumption.

You can clean the air filter of your chainsaw in multiple ways. It can be cleaned by tapping it on a hard surface, washing it, or using an air compressor. Washing will only be possible with certain types of air filters. You can utilize both soapy water or a cleaning solution for this. Then, rinse the filter using clean water, apply some foam filter oil, and dry it completely. These methods are fine for both paper air filter and a foam air filter. However, all methods that make use of a liquid are suitable only for a foam chainsaw filter. 

Here are the different methods for cleaning air filters – 

1. By tapping the air filter on a hard surface

If you are using the chainsaw occasionally and for short periods, the air filter might not gather a lot of dirt. In such cases, you can try to clean it just by gently tapping it on a hard surface. Most of the loose dust that is tripped in the filter will fall off once you do this.

You won’t have to use a lot of force on the filter when tapping the filter on a hard surface. Otherwise, it might damage the air filter. Occasionally, cleaning the dust from the air filter like this during longer working sessions will help sustain the performance of your chainsaw. 

This method of cleaning will be more effective with newer air filters and might not work as efficiently with older ones. An older air filter can often accumulate dirt and a bit of oil, which makes the particles stick to it. This technique will also be ineffective when you are cutting wet wood, as the dust particles will be stickier.

2. Using an air compressor

An extremely effective way of cleaning a chainsaw air filter will be to use an air compressor to blow it clean. The force of the compressed air would push away most of the particles trapped in the air filter. 

You should remove the air filter before you use a compressor to clean it. If you’re trying to clean it while it is still in the chainsaw, it could damage it and trap the particles deeper into the air filter. The compressor air might push the dust into the combustion chamber.

The trick here will be to use the air to blow from the inside out and not the other way around. You should carefully point the air towards the side that would normally lead to the inside of the chainsaw engine.

Since chainsaw air filters aren’t designed to sustain high air pressure, you need to set the air compressor to its lowest setting. Try and get it below 20 PSI if you can. If the air compressor cannot lower the output pressure, you should increase the distance between the air compressor blow gun and the chainsaw air filter. If you apply too much pressure, you could end up damaging the air filter.

3. Washing the air filter using soapy water

Many manufacturers recommend that you should immerse the air filter in soapy water for a while to clean it. You should remember that this will only work for foam air filters. You shouldn’t wash paper air filters. 

When washing, the soapy water will dislodge the trapped particles and dirt effectively. Give it some time to allow the soap to do its work. After that, rinse the air filter in warm water for removing the soap and dirt.

Make sure that the air filter is completely dry and then apply a bit of foam filter oil. Make use of a clean cloth for squeezing the filter and remove excess oil before you mount it back to the chainsaw. Using a wet air filter will likely result in more particles clogging the filter and degrading the performance of your chainsaw.

4. Using static fluid sprays

chainsaw and spray for air filter in table

You can utilize a static-fluid spray for cleaning off the dirt from the air filter. It features the combined effect of soapy water and an air compressor. However, it is not the recommended way of cleaning a chainsaw air filter. 

You need to wait for a while to let the cleaning agent do its work before you wash it off using clean water. Make sure that the filter is dry and then apply a bit of foam filter oil. Make use of a clean cloth for squeezing the air filter and removing excess oil before you mount it back to the chainsaw.

How to Know That it is the Right Time to Clean the Air Filters

Similar to a human body that needs oxygen to survive, the combustion engine in a chainsaw also relies on air to operate. A worn-out air filter will likely make your engine suffer. This can lead to intensive problems. Luckily for you, filthy air filters are quite easy to figure out, but you should know what to look for.

If you’re having to inject more fuel than normal but are still experiencing malfunctioning, a dirty air filter might be the reason. Here are the signs that will tell you it is time to clean the air filters –

1. The air filter looks visibly dirty

Brand new air filters look almost white or sparkly clean. With time, contaminants and dirt turn these filters brown or black. Inspect the air filter visually and get confirmation of a dirty air filter.

2. Overheating

This aspect is quite easy to identify. When you notice that the chainsaw is getting hot during regular work, it is normally a symptom of the unmaintained air filter.

3. Drop-off in performance

You’ll get unsatisfactory performance if your chainsaw has poor air filters. The notable drop-off in functioning will signify that the air filters are in need of adequate cleaning.

4. Strange noises from the engines

As the filters start clogging up, you will hear strange sounds from the engine when cutting or chopping wood. If this happens, it’s time to clean the chainsaw air filter.

When is the Best Time to Change the Chainsaw Air Filter?

A chainsaw air filter will work best if it is cleaned after 10 hours of constant use. However, this isn’t set in stone, and it’ll depend largely on the working conditions and the type of wood you are cutting. For homeowners, this means you will have to clean the air filter twice a year on average. Professionals might have to do it weekly, sometimes even more frequently.

The best time to clean or replace the chainsaw air filter for most homeowners will be at the start of the cutting season. This will depend on how often you’re using it and the conditions that you’re working in. To be on the safer side, it is recommended that you should replace the air filter annually.

Is it Safe to Wash a Chainsaw Air Filter?

Yes, it is safe. In fact, washing the chainsaw foam air filter with soap water is actually a recommended practice. You should prepare the warm soapy solution and then immerse the air filter in it for 20–30 minutes such that the dirt stuck in the air filter comes off. Once you have taken out the filter from the soapy water, rinse it properly in cold water to wash off the soap residue.

Manufacturers like Stihl have specific cleaning solutions like Varioclean for cleaning air filters used in chainsaws. Once you have applied it, wait for 5–10 minutes before washing it away with clean water. You should not let the cleaning solution dry before washing. Lastly, you need to wipe the air filter using a dry cloth.

When you’re using a liquid for cleaning the air filter, make sure that the air filter is dry before you put it back in the chainsaw. You might have to keep it on an absorbent towel in a place that has air circulation to dry it properly. It is recommended that you should leave it to dry overnight to make sure it is dry and ready to go.

Once the air filter is dry, apply a fair bit of foam filter oil. Then, use a clean cloth for squeezing the filter to remove excess oil. Some people prefer using an air compressor to blow the air filter after rinsing the filter in water. This helps in two ways – it helps dry the filter quickly and if there are any dust particles, it removes them. However, you should be careful that the high pressure doesn’t end up damaging the air filter, and remember to blow the air from the inside out.

Washing with water is suitable for foam filters and flocked-type filters. However, you should avoid it with paper-based air filters. In such cases, blowing the filter inside out with an air compressor or tapping it clean will be the better option. If it doesn’t work, you should replace the air filter.


Should I absolutely clean the fuel filters, or can I replace them?

For some people, especially beginners, cleaning fuel filters can be slightly tricky. While you have to remove the old one and feed the new one into the chainsaw housing, some people struggle with it. Since the fuel filters are available at affordable prices, it would be better to replace them if you’re struggling to clean them.

What will happen if the air filters in my chainsaw are left dirty?

The condition of your chainsaw will get worse with time. Dirty air filters will reduce air circulation, which will make it hard to work. Your chainsaw will require more energy to run, which will cost you a lot more money. Further, dirty air filters will also result in inadequate performance and excessive heat emissions. All these factors will result in a shorter lifespan for your chainsaw.

Do I need to clean chainsaw oil filters?

Similar to fuel filters, oil filters can be replaced easily, too. You don’t always have to spend time cleaning it. If you aren’t ready to invest yet, they come with a sponge inserted. All you have to do is remove and clean it.

Do all chainsaws come with air filters?

Yes, all gas-powered chainsaws come fitted with air filters. They might not be the same on all chainsaws, but the methods to clean them are. Everything from the age of the chainsaw to the power source and brands can result in the air filters having different locations. However, you should know that they will be there and the ways to clean them will be the same.

Can I wash the air filter of my chainsaw?

Yes, you can wash your chainsaw’s air filter. First, you’ll need to remove the air filter and examine it for any dirt build-up. If there is a lot of dirt, wash the air filter with a soft brush in warm soapy water before rinsing it until the water runs clear.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.