How to Clean a Chainsaw (The Right Way)

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Cleaning your chainsaw can be quite a therapeutic task, and many people enjoy getting all the grease and gunk that's been clogged out of there.

Below, we'll show you how to properly clean your saw so that it looks brand new. 

Everyone has their own way of cleaning, but most often, it means that a few things get left out or not cleaned properly. Take a look at our step-by-step guide below. 

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

  1. Cleaning is an important part of chainsaw maintenance and without it, your device wouldn’t last long. 
  2. Disengage any power sources and drain liquids
  3. Remove the chain and bar by using a wrench on the side bolts. 
  4. Clean the bar using hot, soapy water and a wire brush to remove any grime. 
  5. Soak the chain in hot water with added turpentine, ensuring you're in a ventilated area. 
  6. Scrub the outside of the casing to make it look brand new.
  7. Remove the chainsaw casing and clean the air filter, carburetor, and any other necessary parts.

Cleaning a Chainsaw - Step-by-Step Guide

Before we moving into a more detailed version of the steps below, here are some of the tools you'll need:

Items Needed to Clean a Chainsaw

  • Cloth
  • Warm Water
  • WD40
  • Wire Brush
  • Some Sort of Cleaning Liquid 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Wrench
  • Grease Gun
  • Pipe cleaner (Sodium Hydroxide) 

1. Prepare The Chainsaw

The most crucial step is to ensure all the power methods of the chainsaw are removed or switched off. Battery-powered chainsaws should have their batteries removed. Remember to remove liquids like fuel or bar oil

2. Remove The Bar And Chain

The two bolts at the side of the chainsaw should be removed using your wrench. These bolts keep your bar in place, ensure that the chain brake is disengaged when removing the cover. 

3. Clean The Bar

Place your bar inside some hot, soapy water and let it sit for around 15 minutes; this will soften and remove any hard dirt or particles stuck on the bar. 

Once the time is up, take the bar and wipe it down with a cloth, then take your wire brush and scrape off any remaining chunks of dirt. 

Replace the old water with some new warm water and a splash of cleaning liquid inside, let it sit for another 10 minutes, and then wipe it down again with a dry cloth.

It might also be beneficial to add in some degreaser to that tub of hot water. This is also a good time to check for any damages. 

4. Cleaning The Chain

Start by soaking the chain in some turpentine for 15 minutes; this will remove all the grease and built-up gunk; before doing this, though, ensure you're in a well-ventilated space or possibly outdoors. 

Once the time is up, take the wire brush and scrub until the chain is spotless. Prepare the tub or bucket again with clean hot water, take some Sodium Hydroxide and add it to the hot water; please make sure you do not touch this with your bare hands and do this in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. 

Let the chain soak in the solution for at least 20 minutes. Remove the chain by pouring it onto the street and hosing it down or picking it up with pliers, and then wash it down with water. Do Not! use your hands. Before putting the chain back on or storing the saw, make sure it's coated in some bar oil to prevent rust. 

5. Clean The Outside Of The Chainsaw

Start with the powerhead, use a toothpick to get all the trapped dirt out of small crevices and grooves. You can also use pressurized air to blast it out. Wipe down the powerhead with a damp cloth to remove any dirt stains. 

6. Cleaning The Inside Of The Chainsaw

Remove the top cover, and this will allow access to the carburetor and air filter. Before cleaning, ensure that the air intake of the carburetor is covered from any falling debris. 

You can clean most of these parts with a small brush and some pressurized air. You can also take the filter out and soak it in some soapy water. 

Remove any build-up of dirt between the spaces on the cooling fins, which is located on the cylinder's head, improving its ability to cool. Brush away any dust you see around the crankcase. 

The spark plugs are last to check; if the electrodes are a brown color, they're fine; check the gap size is correct also. Your user manual will tell you what is right and wrong. 


Cleaning your chainsaw regularly will always make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your tool. It's important to take the time to clean as much as possible. It's also quite a relaxing and enjoyable part of chainsaw maintenance if you're not in a rush.  

People Also Ask

Like with any article, there will always be more questions needing answering. Below, we've compiled and answered some commonly asked questions about chainsaw cleaning. 

What is the average time to clean a chainsaw?

The whole process should take you a full day to complete if you factor in preparation and the waiting. It can be rushed, but you won't get the same benefits. 

How hard is it to clean a chainsaw?

Like with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you know about the internal components, the chainsaw jargon, and how a chainsaw works, the easier it'll be for you. It soon becomes second nature after regular cleaning.