How to Clean a Chainsaw: Tips, Tricks & Techniques

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to clean a chainsaw

Whether you’re a seasoned lumberjack or a homeowner looking to prune a few trees in your yard, it’s essential to keep your chainsaw clean and maintained.

Not only will a clean chainsaw perform better and last longer, but it’s also much safer to use.

Neglecting to clean your chainsaw can lead to debris build-up, which can cause damage to the chain, bar, and even the engine.

That’s why we’re here to help you learn the proper tools and techniques for keeping your chainsaw in tip-top shape.

From choosing the right cleaning supplies to expert tips and tricks, we’ve got you covered! So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the world of chainsaw maintenance.


Cleaning your chainsaw is essential to ensuring its efficient operation and longevity.
Regular cleaning helps keep the saw’s moving parts—the Chain and bar—lubricated, reducing wear and tear.

It also helps reduce the buildup of sawdust, dirt, and debris that can reduce a saw’s operation.
When you clean regularly, you can also quickly spot any signs of wear or damage so you can fix them before they get worse.

Gather Cleaning Tools

  • Soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush
  • Screwdriver
  • Warm soapy water

How To Clean A Chainsaw: Step By Step Process

Step 1: Drain the Oil

How to clean a chainsaw

The first step to cleaning a chain and bar is to drain the oil.

This can be done by unscrewing the fuel cap and allowing the oil to run out.

If you are using an electric chainsaw, unplug the saw from the switch and take out the battery so there is no risk of electrocution.

Step 2: Remove the Chain and Guide Bar

How to clean a chainsaw

Now, place the saw on a flat surface, preferably a workbench. Make sure the chainsaw is steady and not moving so you can work on it quickly.

After the oil has been drained, you need to remove the side cover to access the chain and bar. What is a side cover?

A side cover is a cover on the side of the chainsaw located at the base of the guide bar.

Use a screwdriver to remove the side cover, or if it has a circular dialer, you can just uncover it by hand.
Once the side cover is removed, remove the chain and the chainsaw bar.

To remove the chain and guide bar, you must first locate the adjusting screws.

These screws are underneath the side cover, usually close to the sprocket.

Turn the adjusting screws counterclockwise until the tension loosens and the Chain and bar come off.

Step 3: Clean the Bar

How to clean a chainsaw

A chainsaw can accumulate a lot of debris, such as sawdust and oil.

To clean the bar, use a brush to clean the debris and sawdust off the sidebar cover. With time, sawdust can get packed into the grooves of the bar.

Scrape off the stuck sawdust and debris with a thin screwdriver or putty knife.

Also, use a cloth dampened in detergent to clean the guide bar.

Step 4: Clean the Chain

How to clean a chainsaw

The chain is an essential component of a chainsaw, and it needs to be properly cleaned and maintained to ensure efficient performance. To clean the chain:

Soak the chain in the water and ammonia mixture. You can create the mix by combining a quarter cup of water and a few drops of ammonia.

Soak the Chain for some time, then scrub it with a brush to remove the dirt and grime.
After scrubbing, rinse off the Chain with clean water.

Let the Chain dry for a few minutes in the garden. Wipe the Chain with a clean towel. Also, clean out any dirt, grime or sawdust that has collected in between the teeth of the Chain.

Step 5: Lubricate the Chain

How to clean a chainsaw

The next step in cleaning a chainsaw is lubricating the Chain. Lubrication is necessary after cleaning the saw because of the harsh chemicals that can wear out the saw. You can also spray WD40 on your saw as an oil alternative.

Step 6: Reattach the guide bar & Chain

How to clean a chainsaw

The final step is to reinstall the guide bar and Chain. Start by reconnecting the guide bar groove to the chainsaw base, then attach the Chain by aligning it with the sprocket.

Now, put back the side cover and screws to secure it. Finally, tighten the chain tension by tightening the screws until the Chain is not loose.

Step 7: Cleaning the Powerhead

How to clean a chainsaw

The next step is to take a cloth and clean out the debris and dust outside the chainsaw’s body. Soak the cloth with warm soapy water and some detergent, then wipe away the dirt and dust. Remember that you should be careful not to get water inside the powerhead. Clean the saw powerhead until all the dust is removed and the saw is cleaned.

Step 8: Clean the Air Filter (For Gas Chainsaws)

How to clean a chainsaw

Now the outer body is clean, it’s time to clean the air filter. Remove the top cover by unscrewing the nuts with a screw wrench.

A chainsaw’s air filter helps trap small particles and contaminants, such as sawdust and dust, from the engine to maintain optimum engine performance.

You don’t need to worry about cleaning the filter if you have an electric chainsaw.

Make sure to clean all the dust and debris out of the air filter with the help of the brush. Then rinse the entire air filter underneath warm water, so all the dirt and contaminants are gone. If the air filter is worn out, you may need to replace the filter.

After that, let the air filter dry before you screw it back in place.

Step 9: Clean the Spark Plug

How to clean a chainsaw

The spark plug is one of the most important components of a chainsaw, so it should be cleaned and inspected regularly.

You can use caustic soda to clean the spark plug or use a wire brush to scrape off any dirt or debris.

Once clean, reinstall the spark plug into the saw and secure it with a spark plug wrench.

Step 10: Clean the Carburetor

How to clean a chainsaw

The carburettor is an important part of any gas chainsaw and needs to be cleaned regularly. The purpose of a carburetor is to adjust the fuel and air entering the engine.

To clean the carburettor, turn off the saw and let it cool down. Then, use a screwdriver to remove the carburetor and inspect it for dirt or debris.

Spray it with short bursts of compressed air to remove any gunk. Once clean, reattach the carburetor and tighten the screws securely.

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How to clean a chainsaw FAQs

Can I use WD-40 to clean the chainsaw?

Yes, you can use WD40 to clean and lubricate the chainsaw.

How often should I clean my chainsaw?

It is recommended to regularly inspect and clean your chainsaw after every use or monthly basis.

Final Takeaway

To conclude, knowing how to clean a chainsaw is essential for anyone who wants to maintain a safe and functioning tool. The steps we’ve covered in this guide are straightforward to follow, and they will help ensure that your chainsaw stays in the best possible condition for years to come.

So, give your trusty chainsaw the attention it deserves, and it will continue to serve you well in all of your cutting and trimming needs.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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