how to clean a chainsaw

How to Clean Chainsaw – Fast & Easy Way

A dirty chainsaw can be disgusting to look at. Some people may have not thought of the need to clean their chainsaws but it is a good idea to do so. A buildup of dirt in your chainsaw may cause the chain to run hot and produce more friction, preventing you from cutting straight lines, while increasing vibrations. If you want to make your chainsaw look sparkly once again, learning how to clean chainsaws fast and easy will help you achieve a more functional tool. A clean chainsaw will not just look new, but it will also operate better. 

What You Need

  • Thin screwdriver/pick
  • Rag
  • Water
  • Ammonia (1 cup)
  • Rubber gloves (thick)
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Clean the Bar

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Find the two nuts that are located on the side cover of your saw. It is the one that connects the guide bar to the powerhead. Locate it, but do not loosen them yet. On certain models, it is not possible to remove the cover of the chainsaw when the chain brake is still engaged. On others, however, you can remove the cover, but attaching it back can be challenging. Disengage the chain always before you begin the process. After disengaging the chain, loosen and remove the saw’s cover nuts. 

Detach the chain and guide bar from the powerhead and set the chain aside. If you notice that the guide bar is just moderately dirty, you may simply use a wet rag to clean it. If heavily soiled, clean the guide bar using a degreaser solvent to loosen gunk buildup. 

When cleaning the groove, you may either use a putty knife or a special groove cleaning tool. Run the tool surrounding the groove until you no longer see gunk in between the rails. Clean the chain oiler holes and bar with a thin screwdriver or pick, extracting any gunk that blocks the holes. You may also need to clean the hole close to the tip of the blade of the guide bar. 

Step 2 – Clean the Chain

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Make sure that you do this process in an area with good ventilation. Combine one gallon of water with one cup of ammonia. Soak the chainsaw for 15 minutes. For protection, wear thick rubber gloves. With a soft-bristled toothbrush, scrub every part of the chain until you can no longer see debris. After cleaning the chain, rinse it with water to get rid of the ammonia solution. Dry the chain immediately to remove all moisture. 

Pour some bar and chain oil halfway on a shallow tray. Soak the chain for three hours. After, turn it over and continue soaking for three more hours. Detach the chain from the tray. Dab the chain using paper towels to remove dripping oil. If you are also planning to sharpen your chainsaw, this is the best time to do so. 

Step 3  – Clean the Powerhead

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Use a dry cloth to wipe the outer parts of the powerhead body. Dust off the dirt from the clutch drum, crankcase, and bar studs using a soft paintbrush. A thin screwdriver or pick can be used to remove stuck gunk. 

Step 4 – For Gas Models – Extra Cleaning

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For gas models, there are extra areas that need cleaning. Take the cover off the chainsaw. Remove the air filter, cleaning the air intake using a rag. A soft paintbrush can be used in removing the buildup of dust in the air filter. If it is very dirty, wash it with water to get rid of stuck particles. Allow it to dry before reattaching. 

Remove the top cover to have access to the spark plug. Use the supplied scrench or a T-Wrench to unscrew and detach the spark plug. If you notice that the electrodes are still dark brown, they are fine. However, if they are chipped, black, or damaged, you may need to replace them. Check the manual to get the right spark plug.

Detach the side panel covering the rope rotor and cooling fins. Lightly scrape the gunk in between the cooling fins using a thin screwdriver. Avoid bending the finds. A soft paintbrush can be used to clean the buildup of debris in the rope rotor area. 

Step 5 – Reassemble

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After completing the cleaning process, you can then reassemble the parts. This time, do so in reverse order until you finish the assembly. 


Having a clean chainsaw from the inside out will open new opportunities for working for you. You will immediately see an improvement in your saw’s performance, allowing you to use it for more woodworking projects. While you can always bring your chainsaw to someone who does cleaning work, learning how to clean a chainsaw on your own will help you to learn a new skill, and save money at the same time. Why not share your thoughts with us? Leave them in the comments section below!



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