To ensure your skateboard works properly and lasts as long as possible, you need to clean it regularly. This means scrubbing and washing the bearing and wheels. But how do you do that, exactly?
Good question. It’s not as difficult as you may think. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need, as well as a few tips to ensure cleaning your skateboard bearings and wheels is quick and easy.
What You’ll Need
- Acetone (or a grease solvent, like mineral spirits).
- Lubricant (grease, or sewing machine/skateboard oil).
- Container with a lid.
- Needle-nose pliers/thin screwdriver.
- Paper towels/rags.
- Skate tool (also called T-tool; optional).
- Socket wrench (½-ich) or ratchet.
- Dish soap.
- Hair dryer (optional).
Before you start cleaning and greasing the bearings, as well as wiping down the wheels, you’ll first need to take them off the skateboard. Luckily, it’s a simple feat, requiring only a few minutes.
Remove the Wheel Bearings
First, take the nut off the axle using a socket, ratchet wrench, or a T-tool. Slide the wheel so that the innermost bearing is exposed. Pull the bearing out of the wheel. Then, flip the wheel over and repeat the process on the other side. Store the nuts and wheels somewhere safe, so you don’t lose them.
Remove the Bearing Shields
Now that the bearings are out of the wheels, you can remove the bearing shields as well. If there is simply a rubber shield, you can easily pry it off with a screwdriver, but be careful not to damage them. Metal shields, on the other hand, have a C-clip you need to remove before you can detach them. Use a pin or a thin screwdriver to get under the clips; they should pop off easily.
Access the Cage and Bearing Balls
Once you get the shield off, you can get to the balls and cage of the bearings.
Note: When the bearings are removed from the wheel, a spacer will most likely fall out too. Make sure to keep this in a safe place, as it will need to go back when it’s time to reassemble everything.
Now it’s time to clean! First, wipe off any dirt and grime that’s loose on the bearings. If you can remove any by hand, that means the solvent doesn’t have to do as much work. Use a dry rag or paper towel to clean off obvious loose dirt.
Use a Grease Solvent
To clean away the old grease that has built up on the bearings, you’ll need a mineral spirit, citrus cleanser, acetone, or some sort of grease solvent. They all perform equally; it just depends on how strong a chemical you want to use. If you can find a degreaser that sprays on, that will work great.
However, this is not the place for WD-40. It leaves behind a residue that can collect dirt – and that’s the last thing you want.
Put the bearings and the solution of your choice in a jar or container with a lid. Close the lid and shake the jar for about two minutes. Rinse off the solvent and leftover grease, and you’re all set!
If you have a lot of grime on your bearings, you may need to do this twice. You can swirl the bearing shields inside the solvent if necessary. Be sure to wear gloves during this whole process, as the solvent can be quite harsh.
Additionally, if you don’t want to buy everything you need for this process separately, there are bearing cleaning kits at most skate shops. They may be a little more expensive, but they’ll do the same job.
Dry the Bearings
Use a hair dryer to dry off the bearings. You don’t want rust to form, so the faster you can dry them the better. You can use paper towels, but make sure the bearings are completely dry before you move to the next step.
Next, lubricate them with grease or a little bit of skateboarding or sewing machine oil (never use cooking or motor oil!). Don’t overdo it; they don’t need that much. Two or three drops of oil for each bearing will be enough. The thinner the coating, the faster the bearings will spin and the faster you’ll be able to go on your board.
If you don’t have any grease or oil lying around, check your local skate or bike shop. They should have choices specifically made for skateboard bearings.
Cleaning the wheels of a skateboard is just as easy (if not easier) than cleaning the bearings.
Once you have the wheels disconnected from the bearings, use a rag, a wire brush, or even an old toothbrush to scrub off any loose mud or grime. But be careful; you don’t want to scratch the wheels or chip off any paint.
Next, fill a bucket with hot soapy water and place the wheels inside. Let them sit in there for about ten minutes.
Scrub Some More
Once the time is up, take out each wheel and scrub it with the rag (or brush) again. Make sure to get every nook and cranny of the wheel; dirt can hide in the smallest places.
Then dry the wheels using a hair dryer (use the lowest setting) or place them on paper towels to air dry.
Now that the bearings and wheels are clean, it’s time to reassemble everything so your skateboard is ready to ride whenever you are.
Start With the Shields
The first step is to gently put the shields back over the bearings, using your fingers and thumb to snap them into place. The shield helps keep the bearing lubricated, so don’t forget to reattach them!
Reattach the Bearings
Then, push the bearings back into the wheels. To do this, simply place the bearing on the wheel and snap it into place, along with the bearing divider. Watch your fingers during this process; nothing’s worse than getting pinched when reattaching the bearings.
Test and Repeat
Press down on the wheel to ensure it’s secure. Then, flip it over and put in the other bearing on the other side. If there were spacers on your board, place a spacer on the wheel before snapping the bearing into place. Then, insert the bearing and add the second spacer on the other side
Put the Wheels On
Finally, put the wheels back on the axle and screw the nut back on, using a socket wrench. Repeat this process for the rest of the wheels. Make sure the bearing is able to spin freely. If it’s not, try moving the wheel around to ensure the bearing goes in all the way. You should feel it snap into place.
Skateboard maintenance is just as important as car or bike maintenance. You may not get as injured on a skateboard, but plenty of harm can be done due to old bearings and grimy wheels.
With these quick tips, your skateboard should be looking brand new in no time. As long as you clean your board every couple of months, or after riding on especially muddy terrain, your board should last for years to come.