Your child’s skateboard, just like everything else with moving parts, needs to be cleaned properly from time to time. But how do you clean your kid’s skateboard and keep it well-maintained so that it rolls like a dream all the time? In this post, I give you the step-by-step process that I follow to remove dirt, debris, and gunk out of the bearings, trucks, wheels, and every other part.
Skateboard Maintenance Tips for Parents
- Advise your child to avoid stepping in puddles or ride through muddy or sandy terrain. Wet, muddy conditions are the quickest path to a waterlogged deck. Also, riding a skateboard right through a paddle is a surefire way to damage the bearings. Besides, avoiding situations like these ones is also the best way to prevent a dirty grip tape in the first place.
- If you kiddo plays really hard and not even wet conditions will stop them, buy them another skateboard. Get them a cheaper skateboard — a kind of rideable-in-the-rain deck — one they can ride in all kinds of outdoor conditions.
- Alternatively, agree with your young skateboarder that when it starts raining, they should only skate indoors.
- Clean the skateboard’s deck, bearings, and wheels regularly. If the bearings have trouble spinning, either clean them and lube them up or replace them. Clean the wheels too.
- You don’t need to disassemble the trucks each time you decide to give your child’s board some TLC. But if you’re deep-cleaning the board, definitely tear down the trucks and clean up all the gunk and grease.
- Don’t clean your kid’s skateboard deck with water or with a cleaner such as Windex. Because you’ll end up with a nice-looking deck with a mediocre pop!
- Be sure to clean a dirty deck soonest possible, because the longer you leave dirt to accumulate on it, the harder and less satisfying future cleans become.
- Sand down the grip tape if you find to be too grippy that it holds the soles of your shoes like superglue!
- If the grip tape becomes too old and starts to peel around the edges, sand down the edges. And if the tape is too worn in other areas and you don’t want to replace it just now (please do, it’s only $7), cut the torn areas away. Also, use super glue to get some of the tape back on.
- If it’s sunny outside (not extremely hot) and the deck has a bit of mud, leave the skateboard out in the sun. It loosens it up for easier removal with a conventional brush. Note: excessive heat from the sun can weaken the substance that glues the layers of maple of bamboo together.
Parts of a Skateboard to Focus on When Cleaning It
A skateboard consists of a number of parts including wheels, bearings, deck, griptape, and trucks. When cleaning your son’s or daughter’s or your skateboard, you want to pay attention to all these areas. I assume that the board is quite dirty and you’re looking to deep clean it rather than give it a quick wipe-down.
At this point, I want us to start cleaning each of the parts. Obviously, you have to disassemble the skateboard so you can easily access and clean each of the components.
Clean the Skateboard’s Deck
I’ve never met anyone who thought I’m messy and careless just because my skateboard’s deck was dirty. And there are many skaters out there who’d rather peel off their dirty deck and install a new one instead of cleaning it.
Me? I choose to clean my board’s deck. I get it: new decks are inexpensive, plus good grip tape can last a couple of years. A bar of belt sand cleaner costs a little more than most grip tapes. So why buy something expensive to clean something that’s cheaper? It’s because belt sander cleaner can be used multiple times before needing to purchase a new block.
How to Clean a Skateboard Deck
There are two simple methods you can use to clean the deck of your kid’s/your skateboard. You can:
- Use a block of belt sander cleaner or,
- Use a wire brush to clean the deck.
Of these skateboard deck cleaning methods, I’ve found that using a bar of belt sander cleaner works better. Let’s now learn how you can use both strategies to remove dust and dried-up mud from your/kid’s skateboard deck.
Method 1: Use Belt Sander Cleaner to Clean the Skateboard’s Deck
Last time I checked (a bunch of months ago), a bar of belt sander cleaner sold at $10-ish. So, get one or two from your local skate shop or online for this task.
Next, place the skateboard you’re cleaning on a firm surface such as a table out in the yard. You can also stand the board on a workbench in your garage.
Here’s how to do it:
- Get a regular bristle brush to loosen up some of the dirt and debris on the board. This is an optional step, but since makes the job easier for the belt sander cleaner, I suggest that you don’t skip it.
- Hold the entire block (or a piece of it) and start pushing it back and forth on the deck. The other hand needs to be pressing the board down to keep it stationary. It might be necessary to scrap off any dirt that ends up on the cleaning block.
- Give the deck as many passes as needed to get it satisfactorily clean. In my experience, the older and dirtier the deck, the harder the work and the less satisfactory the end results. If your kiddo’s skateboard deck isn’t that old and doesn’t have too much dirt, you should notice a huge difference post-cleaning. But if you think the grip tape will look as good as new, think again.
Listen: this skateboard deck cleaning method works. In fact, it’s the best way to clean a skateboard deck without damaging it. But I must repeat this: if the deck hasn’t received any TLC since installation and your tyke keeps stepping in puddles and mud, expect the “after” look to be disappointing.
*To improve the chances of ending up with a much better-looking deck, be sure to apply a decent amount of pressure while pushing the bar on the board.
Method: Use a Wire Brush to Tidy Up the Deck
This method works, but I, my hubby, and our skating buddies prefer method #1 above. This method requires you to obtain a soft-bristle brush for the clean. If the bristles are too stiff or if you use too much pressure while getting the dirt out of the grit, it’s easy to ruin it. Not a desirable result at all, right?
Here’s how to clean your kiddo’s skateboard deck using a steel wire brush: Hold the wire brush (it needs to have fine wire brushes) and start working the deep-sitting dirt using gentle circular motions.
Keep going until the deck starts looking better and cleaner. Tip: use a regular brush to sweep off the grip tape every time a reasonable amount of dirt comes to the surface from your efforts.
This method is also effective, but you’ll struggle to struggle get like stuck bubble gum out of the deck. To tackle bubble gum, turn to the belt sander cleaner method above.
Can I Use Water or a Cleaner to Clean a Skateboard’s Deck?
No, it’s a bad idea to clean a skateboard deck with water. Water is one of the best ways if not the best of dislodging dirt from surfaces, but using it on a skateboard is always counterproductive. Wetting the plastic board of a cruiser or a penny board may not cause damage, but it’s a different with maple. A waterlogged maple deck loses some of its pop and also a bit of its integrity. Just don’t wash your skateboard with water or soap.
Clean the Skateboard’s Bearings
If your kiddo is always out riding their board, help them check how well the bearings perform after each skating session. Extremely dirty bearings have a terrible spin and in might seize up in some cases.
So, be sure to clean the bearings regularly. Regularly might mean every two weeks for some parents or once a month for others. Giving the wheels a spin with your hand should instantly tell you whether the bearings are due for a clean and some lube. If the roll is smooth and reasonably quiet, the bearings are clean. But if the bearings have a grating sound and struggle to spin, definitely clean them.
How to Clean Your Child’s Skateboard Bearings
Step 1: Unscrew the wheels. I bet you have a skate tool lying around. Don’t have a skate tool? No worries, use a wrench or pliers. In some cases, the screws on the axles are damaged from hitting the ground too much. Pliers are the best tool for removing stuck/damaged nuts.
As you remove the wheels, remove the speed washers/speed rings and put them aside. Don’t lose the washers, OK?
*When using a skate tool to remove the wheels, don’t use too much force, otherwise you’ll damage the shields.
Step 2: Get the bearings out of the wheels. There are two bearings inside the hub of each wheel. A spacer separates the bearings in some cases, so if it’s there remove it and don’t lose it.
To remove the bearings, lay the board on its side and use the end of the axle as leverage to take the bearings out. It’s easy, and it takes about a second to pop each bearing out. Watch this video to see learn how to take out bearings out of a skateboard wheel.
Step 3: Use a sponge or cloth to wipe surface dirt off the bearings, wheels, and trucks.
Step 4: If the bearings have a removable metal shield, remove it. Some bearings come with non-removable metal shields and that makes them not serviceable. It’s best to replace such bearings. And the good news is that good steel bearings that spin like a dream are available for cheap.
To remove a metal shied from a bearing, use a stitching awl, a needle, or a small flat-head screwdriver. Get the end of the tool between the metal shield and the inner race and pry it off. It takes about 2 seconds.
And to remove rubber shields, use a small hobby knife. Be careful or you’ll cut the rubber shield with the sharp side of the knife. Alternatively, use a household thumb tuck to pop the rubber shield off.
Why do skateboarders remove the shields from the bearings when cleaning them? It’s because without the shields, the bearing cleaner has an easier time accessing every little nook and cranny of the bearing. Also, solvents such as acetone degrade rubber.
Bones Bearings, the company behind the ultra-popular skate-focused Bones bearings, recommends the following bearing cleaning solvents:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Methyl ethyl ketone
- Citrus-based cleaners
You don’t want any of these chemicals getting into your eyes because they’re harmful. Once done, dispose of the cleaner correctly. Usually, manufacturers provide solvent disposal instructions.
Avoid petroleum-based bearing cleaners or any product that contains toluene including:
- Paint thinner
- Lacqeur thinner
Step 5: At this point, open your Bones Bearings Cleaning Unit (it’s what I recommend) and get all 8 bearings on the axle of the metal rod attached to the cleaner’s cap. As you put each bearing on the axle, make sure that the side of the bearing with the balls faces upward. This ensures that the solvent percolates to every part of the bearing.
If you don’t have the Bones Cleaning Unit, you can use some other closable container. Simply put the bearings and close the bearings holder. Then, swirl the bearings around for about 2-5 minutes. The cleaner looks really dirty now I bet. Pour out the dirty cleaner, put in some fresh cleaner and repeat the process until the bearings are squeaky clean.
Step 6: Get the bearings out of the container and place them on a dry clean towel. Then, use another dry towel to dry them up. Alternatively, use compressed air to speed up the drying process.
Step 7: Add 2 drops of a recommended skateboard bearings cleaner to each steel bearing. Ceramics bearings don’t need two drops of lube — a drop is sufficient. Give each bearing a few spins to distribute the lubricant to every corner of the bearing. I recommend Bones Speed Cream, and I’m not the only one who thinks this high-quality light lube is the best product for the job.
Step 8: I believe your bearings are now spinning like there’s no tomorrow. Put the shields back on and you’re done. You won’t need any tool for this task, just your fingers.
Clean the Skateboard’s Wheels
Below is a set of signs that your kid’s skateboard wheels are dirty and need some attention:
- The ride is wobbly — inspect those wheels, and chances are there’s some gum that’s stuck on the wheels.
- Your kiddo seems to be losing grip while skating in the park: The odds are the wheels have gotten all oily and have lost their traction.
- The wheels roll, but not as smoothly as they normally do: Take a look at the wheels. Unless they’ve flat spotted, there’s a good chance there’s grit, gunk, and other debris in the bearings compartment.
How to Clean Skateboard Wheels
Skateboard wheels are meant to spend their entire lifespan rolling over pavement and gathering dirt. But that’s no reason to skip cleaning them. So take those pu wheels and head over to the sink. You may also pour some clean warm water into a bucket and add in some mild soap. Dawn dish-washing soap is OK.
Step 1: Put the dirt skateboard wheels into the bucket or sink. Make sure to plug the sink’s drain so that the water won’t flow out. Leave the wheels soaked in warm soapy water for some time. 10-15 minutes should be enough. During this time, the soapy water in the sink/buckets gets into the bearings, especially into the bearings bed/hub. This loosens up and dissolves the dirt and gunk on the wheels.
Step 4: Use a terrycloth towel or a piece of cloth to rub off the surface and inner parts of the wheel. This should easily remove any stubborn dirt from the wheels. A wire brush is the best tool for scrapping off the deeply embedded debris in the sides of the wheels and on the wheel track. If you can’t find a wire brush at the moment, use a piece of grip tape or even an old toothbrush for the job.
Step 3: Rinse off every soapy residue using clean water.
Step 4: Be sure to dry the wheels completely. Use a dry clean towel (preferably one without loose lint) to wipe off any excess water/moisture. Then, leave the wheels out in the sun until they’re moisture-free.
If the wheels aren’t completely dry, the moisture might cause the bearings to rust. Damp wheels attract dirt and grime easily, and these will eventually adversely affect ride quality.
Step 5: Put the bearings back in and re-attach the wheels and that’s it! Also, consider rotating the wheels to improve the roll and make them last a little longer. Use your judgment to decide this — not all wheels can be rotated. In some cases, putting in a new set of wheels is best.
How to Clean Skateboard Trucks
Step 1: Disassemble the trucks: Nobody wants to dismantle their skateboard’s trucks each time they need to freshen things up a little. But if it’s been years and you feel that your trucks need some tender loving care, why not? Simply disassemble the trucks and then clean the parts individually.
Step 2: Rub off the bushings in warm soapy water. As for hard-to-reach spots, use a toothbrush to get the dirt, grease, and grime there.
Step 3 (optional): If the trucks’ axles are all smashed up because your son spent tons of hours trying to land primo or do flip tricks, re-thread it. Getting the nut back on when the axle threads are stripped can be frustrating. So, grab a skateboard axle re-threader and do the job. Some skate tools come with a die for this task, but others don’t. I recommend the Reflex-Utili Skate Tool, and it works really well.
Make sure to hold the tool nice and straight to avoid eating away at the existing threads. Keep rotating the tool downward until much of the initial resistance disappears.
Finally, get the wheels back on and use new nuts instead of the old stripped ones. Watch this video below to learn how to correctly re-thread mushroomed truck axles. That’ll make removing the wheels during future cleans easier.
Step 4 (optional):Polish the skateboard’s trucks.
If you’re replacing the wheels and bearings, consider polishing the trucks. Polishing skateboard trucks with a chrome/metal polish leaves them looking as good as new. But how do you polish skateboard trucks? First off, buy a good metal polish such as the Renegade USA Rebel Pro Red Liquid Metal Polish. It costs around $30, but it’ll keep your kid’s trucks blemish-free and looking cute.
Cleaning a Skateboard: FAQs
How Do You Maintain a Skateboard?
The best way to maintain a skateboard is to avoid getting it dirty in the first place. Clean the deck, the bearings, and the wheels every once in a while. As for the trucks, clean them occasionally. Another skateboard maintenance practice is to re-thread the wheel axles and polishing the trucks.
How Do I keep My Skateboard Deck Clean?
The most effective way of keeping a skateboard’s deck clean is to clean it using a block of belt sander cleaner. Another way to get the deck clean is to agitate it using a fine wire brush.
What Do You Use to Clean a Skateboard?
Use warm water to clean dirty skateboard wheels, trucks, and bushings. As for the bearings, use a good bearing cleaner such as Isopropyl alcohol or acetone.
Can I Clean My Skateboard With Water?
Some parts of a skateboard such as the wheels, trucks, and bushings can be cleaned with water. But the deck and bearings shouldn’t be cleaned with water.
How Often Should Skateboard Bearings be Cleaned?
For regular skaters may need to clean their skateboard bearings 2 or 3 times each month while everyone else can get away with once each month. Boarders who ride occasionally can clean the bearings every 2-3 months.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.