How to Clean a Chainsaw Like a Pro

Maintaining a chainsaw’s functionality requires regular cleaning. Its efficiency can be adversely affected by dust and grime accumulation. But how to clean a chainsaw properly?

Many individuals I know aren’t particularly diligent about cleaning it on a regular basis. The good news is that you can quickly clean a chainsaw at home with a few simple tools.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything about cleaning a chainsaw; so it keeps functioning flawlessly.

How to Clean a Chainsaw in 6 Steps

Before you disassemble the chainsaw’s parts and clean them, it is essential to check that the tool is not connected to any power sources. 

If you have a gas saw, firstly, drain the fuel. Remove the fuel cap and transfer any remaining substance to a gas can. 

And if you have an electric chainsaw, disconnect it from the power outlet or remove the battery.

Having done that, you can proceed as follows: 

Step 1: Take the Bar and Chain Apart

For starters, you will have to remove the chainsaw’s components. Make sure to disassemble everything on a comfortable work table or a flat surface, and keep all the tools near you.

Next, find the two cover nuts that keep the bar mounted to the powerhead on the side cover. But before loosening these nuts, ensure that the chain brake is disengaged. 

On some kinds of chainsaws, the cover cannot be removed while the brake is applied. While it can be removed on a few chainsaws, it might be difficult putting it back. 

Therefore, you must disengage the brake beforehand. Now, remove the cover nuts by loosening them after the chain brake has been disengaged.

Separate the chain and guide bar from the powerhead, and set the chain aside.

Step 2: Clean the Bar

If the guide bar is mildly filthy, all you need is an old cloth and some soapy water to clean it. However, if you have used it intensely over the week to cut trees and branches, consider a chainsaw cleaning solvent or degreaser to remove the buildup.

You can clean the bar groove with a putty knife or a groove-cleaning tool. Rotate the tool around the groove till there is no more debris between the rails.

Once you are done cleaning it, pay attention to the bar and oiler holes. You can clean them with a screwdriver to remove dirt material that is obstructing the holes. 

For lubricating the sprocket, your guide bar may additionally feature a hole near the tip of the blade. So, clean that too.

Step 3: Scrub the Chain

Image Source: Unsplash

Next up, combine one gallon of water and ammonia. Put this solution in a bucket and place it in an atmospheric and ambient place. 

Now, put the chainsaw chain in this mixture and give it 15-20 minutes to soak. It should dissolve most of the sawdust. (Remember to protect your eyes and skin while working with ammonia and avoid contact.)

You may need a brush since the debris can be too sticky to pull sometimes. Utilize a soft-bristled toothbrush to cleanse the chain well to remove all the dirt. 

After cleansing the chain, wash it off with clean water to get rid of the ammonia mixture. Next, you will have to dry it to eliminate moisture.

Before storing your newly scrubbed chain, immerse it in some chain oil. It will wipe off the extra oil and also prevent it from rusting.

Lastly, dab the chain with a paper towel to remove any oil drips.

Step 4: Clean the Powerhead

Start with cleaning the body of the powerhead exterior with a piece of dry cloth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or paintbrush to remove the dust that is accumulated around the crankcase. You can use a screwdriver to get rid of thick muck.

You may need to take the help of DIY tools like a scrench to access tighter spots. Remove all sawdust from the area surrounding the drum and bar studs.

Step 5: Clean the Air Filter and Spark Plug (Gas Chainsaws Only)

First of all, remove the chainsaw’s top cover to access the air filter and spark plug.

Take a paintbrush to get rid of the dust on the air filter. If the filter is extremely dirty, submerge it in water to remove any adhered materials. 

Lastly, access the spark plug and remove it using a scrench or T-wrench. 

Step 6: Reassemble Your Chainsaw

Once you are done with all six steps, you can start reassembling all components of the chainsaw. Make sure to do it in reverse order.

And that is about it. Now, you can clean a chainsaw by yourself.

Note: An estimated 36,000 patients are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for chain saw-related injuries. Therefore, take extra care of yourself, wear protective clothing, and pick a chainsaw that matches the job requirements and your skills.


1. Why does dirt ruin a chainsaw?

Dust and dirt tend to dull the cutters and blades of a chainsaw. Debris can also cause the chain links to deteriorate more quickly and impact the chainsaw’s performance.

It happens because debris consists of hard particles tougher than the steel of the chain. Hence, it is necessary to take care of your chainsaw and clean it regularly to prolong its life.

2. What do you use to clean a chainsaw?

You may need the following tools if you want to clean and take care of your chainsaw at home:

  • A paint brush 
  • A universal cleanser
  • Some type of degreaser 
  • Bar groove cleaning tool
  • Scrench 

3. How often should you service your chainsaw?

It depends on how frequently and intensely you use the chainsaw. Generally, it should be taken to a professional every 4-5 months if it’s used moderately and twice a year if it’s used for heavier use.

4. What is the life of a chainsaw?

The average life expectancy of a chainsaw is 8-10 years. However, if you take good care of it and constantly keep a check on its condition, it can last for more than 15 years.

Wrap Up

Inadequate maintenance causes chainsaws to function improperly. Oil, sawdust, and debris buildup can highly affect the chainsaw’s performance and reduce its life.

Hence, it is imperative to learn how to clean a chainsaw and maintain it regularly. 

But don’t worry- you can easily achieve this goal at home. Follow the instructions and safety measures in this article and increase the life of your chainsaw. 

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