How to clean your skateboard or longboard
In Blog - 20/03/2018
So you bought yourself a new board, managed to hack-up all your dream components and you shredded it all summer. You’ve been staring at your skateboard or longboard and you’re now thinking it needs a little pimpin’. Although most of skaters don’t do it, a skateboard is pretty straightforward to clean.
Apart for the bearings and grip-tape, simply grab a slight damp clothe and rub the dirt and grime off your deck and trucks. If you’re really motivated, you could also disassemble your board in order to clean all the nooks and crannies. Unless you’ve slashed trough a muddy dirt path, this shouldn’t be necessary. And if you did so you surely want to clean your grip-tape. There’s pretty much only one method to clean your grip-tape fast and with out risking damage to it. The miracle solution is solid natural rubber and it is commonly used to clean belt sanders. Although it can be difficult, you can sometimes find this product at your local hardware store, where people refer to it simply as belt-sander cleaner. When rubbed over your grip-tape, the natural rubber will cling to any dirt and loose matter to then leave you with a clean and grippy new-looking grip-tape. You could also heard about a method using water and hard-bristled brushes, but this technics can damage or mark the grip-tape.
Now, the component that requires the most maintenance, and therefor the most cleaning, is the bearings. You have no trouble guessing why. This part sits very close to the ground and is the most mechanically active part of a skateboard or longboard. Sand, dust and any other minuscule abrasive materials will make their way into the bearing and will get trapped within the lubricant. This causes the bearing to not function smoothly and it could likely prematurely wear out.
To clean your bearing, you first have to pry the bearings out of the wheels. Depending on the rigidity of the core, this can be very difficult. When so, the easiest way to remove them, without using a bearing extractor, is to find a cylindrical metal rod with the same diameter as truck axel. Then, by inserting the rod slightly passed the edge of the bearing you’d like to remove and then prying your wheel sideway, you should be able to pop it right off. However, there’s a small disclaimer: Any bearing removed without the appropriate extractor can result in damage do the bearing or core of the wheels. This said, this tool is kind of hard to find.
Once, your bearings are removed, using a small pick or needle and delicately insert the point under the edge of the bearing shield (the brass/metallic covers protection the ball-bearing) and pop it off. Be careful, not all bearing have double-sided shields. Some brands have the retainer (Plastic slotted ring that maintain the ball-bearings in position, also referred to as the cage) act as one of the shields and some have an open side with only retainer-shields, which isn’t meant to be removed.
Finally, you’re ready to clean your bearings. You’ll need a solvent to dissolve the used lubricant away. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) will do the trick or you can also purchase a solvent and lubricant combos like Skanunu brand bearing cleaner, which would avoid you to re-lubricate your bearings in a separate step. Submerge your bearings in the solution for about 30 seconds to a minute and, if done in a sealed container, swirl or shack it gently dislodge any fin derby. You can also remove the bearing from the solution momentarily to spin them with your fingers for a more thorough cleaning.
Once your done with the cleaning solution, air dry or blow-dry, on the lowest setting, your bearings to allow the solvent to evaporate. It’s important that no liquid solvent is left in the bearing before adding your 2 drops of skateboard bearing specific lubrication. Ionic Flux has a great bearing oil formula specially formulated for general skateboarding and one specifically for downhill. Finally, you can pop the shields back on and the bearing back in your wheel.
To briefly sum it up, the only thing you should regularly clean is the bearings. The grip-tape can be cleaned if needed, for more traction, and the deck and trucks just need an occasional rub-down when you feel like it’s time. Now you know how to bring your rode back to its original glory, or almost.