Skateboard Maintenance 101

Skateboard Maintenance 101

Let’s face it: getting rid of a well-used skateboard can be the worst. You’ve shredded on it, worn it in. You know all its weird kinks that you hated at first but have now come to rely on. To make sure your favorite board sticks with you as long as possible, keeping it clean is an essential part of making it last. Here’s a few steps you can follow to make your board feel brand-new again.


What You’ll Need

  • About a liter of water
  • Brass bristle brush (do not use steel)
  • Grip Gum or a sanding belt cleaner
  • Small socket wrench
  • Old toothbrush
  • Dish soap
  • Medium bowl or bucket
  • Push pin
  • Paper towels
  • Medium container with lid
  • Bearing lubricant
  • Grease-cleaning solvent
  • Hair dryer (optional)
  • Compressed air can (optional)



The Deck

The most common way to clean your skateboard deck is with window cleaner and a toothbrush. This works … sometimes. The problem with this method, as explained by Rat Vision, is that when grip tape is perforated, the window cleaner can seep beneath the tape and deteriorate the adhesive that bonds it to the wood. To elongate the life of your board, here are a few alternative steps you can take to keep it clean.

  1. Put just a tiny bit of water (about the volume of a water bottle lid) on the board in a small area. Gently brush the wet area with a brass bristle brush.
  2. Allow the wet area to dry completely. You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process if needed.
  3. Once the area is completely dry, use Grip Gum or a sanding belt cleaner to rub off the dried grime from that area.
  4. Repeat this across the entire board, going section by section to avoid using too much water.


The Wheels

Surprisingly, the wheels should be the easiest part of your board to clean. Even though they easily take on the most wear and tear, their polyurethane construction can take a lot of wear and tear before needing to be replaced. To clean your wheels, all you need is some hot soapy water, an old tooth brush and a little bit of time.

  1. Use a socket wrench to remove the axel nuts and then pry the bearings away from the wheels. Set aside the nuts and bearings.
  2. Use a toothbrush to remove any loose grime from your wheels, then place the wheels in a bucket of hot soapy water to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. When you remove them from the bucket, give them another once-over, using the toothbrush to remove any dirt as needed. Dry them off with a rag or paper towels.


The Bearings

If you could only clean one part of your board, your bearings are the part to upkeep. While your wheels are the ones that get you around, the bearings are the pieces that allow the wheels to move, so keeping them clean and well-lubricated is a vital part of taking care of your board. For this part of the cleaning process, make sure that you wear gloves to protect your hands from chemicals. 

  1. Use a push pin to gently pry the bearing shield from the bearing. Use a paper towel to remove any loose grime from both parts. Set aside the parts.
  2. Fill a medium, sealable container (like a large mason jar or a Tupperware container) with a grease-cleaning solvent. You may choose to use acetone, although this method is debated.
  3. Place the bearings in the solvent and swirl them, keeping the liquid moving, for about five minutes. Let stand for 10 more minutes.
  4. Remove the bearings and place them on a paper towel to dry completely. You can use a compressed air can to speed up the drying process if needed.
  5. Use a bearing lubricant, such as Bones Speed Cream, to re-lubricate the bearings. To do so, apply just two or three drops inside the bearing and spin it to distribute the lubricant evenly.
  6. Replace the bearing shields and reinsert the bearings into the wheels.

After reassembling the parts, your skateboard should be as good as new. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how frequently you should deep-clean your board, but by skating regularly, you should be able to tell when things start to get stiff. When you’re not getting as much speed or you’re having a hard time landing tricks because your feet keep slipping, take a closer look at your board to determine if it needs a little TLC.

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