How to Clean Griptape

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Have you been thinking about replacing your griptape because it’s just not as grippy as it used to be? Considering giving your skateboard a face lift with clean new griptape that sparkles? Maybe you don’t need to buy anything – it could be that you just need to give your board a good wash. A lot of beginner riders, and even those who have been riding for a while, don’t really think about the fact that you can wash your griptape. They just replace it when it seems dingy and slick, and move on. But unless the griptape is ripped or damaged in someway, it’s pretty likely that a good cling will get it working like new.

Why Does Griptape Need to Be Cleaned?

Simply put, you’re stepping on it. Whatever is on your shoes is transferred to the griptape, and just by standing on it at all, you are getting it dirty and adding wear and tear. Fresh skateboard griptape lasts about two seconds for most riders, and then it’s just a matter of seeing how long you can ride before it looks like it needs to be cleaned.

Common Methods of Cleaning Griptape

There are several ways that you can go about cleaning griptape:

  • Erase the grime with a rubber cement eraser
  • Do a deep clean with a brush and window cleaner
  • Use a combination of both a rubber eraser and a deep clean

Here’s how each of these options works, and when to use which type of cleaning.

Quick Clean With an Eraser

Did you know that you can simply erase the grime off your griptape? Just a pencil eraser erases lead on a page, a rubber cement eraser can wipe away dirt and grime on griptape. You may see skate shops selling this as “grip gum”, but you can find the same thing in a more affordable form by just buying rubber cement erasers at art stores. Just put the board on your lap and start rubbing the cement across the tape. It will start to remove grime, and then you just wipe away the eraser residue. It does take some time, but this the easiest and cheapest way to keep your griptape looking like new.

Deep Clean With Window Cleaner

The next thing you can try for griptape that is just filthy is a deep clean. If you went skating in the mud or let your board get really dirty between cleans, this is the best option. Additionally, if you ride a longboard, you may find that this option works best, because longboards have coarser griptape that resists the eraser method.

You need a soft wire brush similar to something you’d find in the hardware store’s paint department. If you can’t find that, a very firm toothbrush also works. Fill a cup with window cleaner, dip in your brush, and start scrubbing from one end to the other of your board. You are essentially just smearing this liquid all over while scrubbing up the grime, so don’t expect it to look great at first. Keep scrubbing till you’ve gone over the entire surface.

Now you need to wipe away all that grime and liquid Use a cloth towel to wipe it away and dry the board. This can help you get your board looking like new if it had some deep debris.

Combination Clean

If you want to make sure your board is super extra clean, you can do a combination of the methods listed above.

Start with the deep clean. Use your soft wire brush or your firm toothbrush, and window cleaner, to really scrub your board as much as you can. Wipe the residue away with a cloth towel (not a paper towel – this will tear and leave behind more residue), and make sure the surface is very dry.

Now grab the rubber cement eraser and go to work on the newly deep cleaned tape. The rubber cement eraser will grab any leftover particles, and you’ll be able to really scrub at anything that was left with the eraser. Wipe away the residue from the eraser, and your board will be very clean.

Related: How to Paint a Skateboard

Why Go Through All This?

If you can just replace the griptape, why would anyone go through this cleaning process? There are a few reasons.

First, griptape isn’t cheap. It may not be the most expensive part of riding, but it’s a lot more cost effective to buy some window cleaner and a brush. Second, changing griptape is a fussy process that takes expertise to get just right. If your board already has griptape that is well-fitted and works for you, it’s a great idea to try to maintain it.

Overall, you’ll save money and frustration by cleaning your griptape.

When Should I Clean My Skateboard Grip Tape?

You can clean your griptape as often as you like. The biggest reason to do so is to keep it nice and sticky for your stance. When grip tape has debris down in the crevices, it won’t offer as much grip for your soles. Cleaning out all that debris makes you feel like you’re standing on brand new griptape.

Another reason is for the appearance of new griptape. It makes your board look well maintained and high end to have clean, sparkling griptape.

If you feel as though your board isn’t as grippy as it used to be, or it’s looking dull and dingy, it’s time to clean. If you’ve been riding in bad weather, through muddy areas, or with very dirty shoes, it’s probably best to inspect your board and make sure it doesn’t need to be cleaned.

Summing It Up

Keeping griptape clean is easy and affordable, although it may cost you some time. However, the process of removing and replacing griptape is even more lengthy, so this is a win-win. To keep your board in great shape, grab a rubber cement eraser, a soft brush, and window cleaner – and your board will always look and ride like new.