After spending a lot of time skateboarding, the wheels on the board are going to end up a little dirty and grungy. While you can rub the wheels and bearings down with some Windex and a paper towel, that isn’t going to cut it when you want the ultimate in clean skateboard wheels. Dirty wheels and bearings can get clogged with dirt, which can result in a skateboard that doesn’t move the way it used to. You might be trying to pull off some sick tricks and find out what your skateboard isn’t moving as smoothly as it used to.
The good news here is that you can easily clean skateboard wheels and get back on the street and doing all your favorite tricks. This means you need to remove the wheels and understanding safe cleaning techniques. There aren’t any special skills that are needed, and you can handle the process all on your own. If you are ready to learn how to clean skateboard wheels, we can help. Once your wheels are carefully and completely cleaned, you can get back out there and have fun.
Removing the Wheels from Your Skateboard
Carefully cleaning your wheels starts with taking them off of your skateboard. Take the skateboard and turn it over, so the deck is on the bottom and the wheels are facing you. A 13mm or 1/2” socket wrench can be used when you remove the axle nuts on the truck axle which are located on the outer sides of the wheels of your skateboard. Grab a bowl or other container and keep all the nuts, washers, and other items in one spot so you can easily find them later on in the process.
Taking the Bearings Out of the Wheels
If you have done the work to remove the wheels, it’s time to remove the bearings from the wheels. The truck axle, which is the metal rod the wheels were on, can be used to help pry them out. Take the wheel and position it on the end of the axle where the rod is inserted through the wheel until it reaches the first bearing. Once the axle catches on the bearing, pull back the top of the wheel from the board. This is going to be similar in method as to how you open a bottle with a bottle opener.
After you have done this with one side of the wheel, do the same to the other side starting with using the axle to pry the bearings out. This should be done for all wheels on the board. Make sure to keep the wheels and bearings separate form each other. A bearing spacer will also come out and should be stored for reassembling the bearings and wheels later. If you weren’t able to remove them with the axle, a screwdriver can be used instead.
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Starting the Cleaning Process
Now that you have the wheels and bearings separated, you can start to clean the wheels. The first thing you want to do is take a clean rag and wipe off the surface of the wheels to remove any debris. You can use a fingernail to loosen gravel or rock that is stuck tight on the wheel. This is your first step in how to clean skateboard wheels.
Once you’re done wiping things off, you should get a large bucket and make a mixture of water and dishwashing soap. Use about a half-gallon of water to two teaspoons of soap. Stir it all up until the water is nice and sudsy before adding the wheels to the liquid. You are going to want to let them soak for at least 10 minutes. Keep in mind that only the wheels should be placed in water. The bearings should not be.
After you have removed the wheels from the soap and water, you can use a soft-bristle toothbrush or a clean rag to continue and clean the wheels more. Scrub gently and get rid of any dirt and debris. Since dirt can be anywhere, make sure to clean both the inner and outer surfaces. You can scrub as much as needed to get the job done. Once the wheels of your skateboard are all clean, a towel can be used to dry them off completely.
Removing the Bearing Shields
The next step is to remove the shields from your bearings. This can be done by carefully using a razor blade and wedging it in between the bearing and bearing shield. Push the blade down slowly to remove the bearing shield from the bearing. Always be cautious while you do the removal. You don’t want to injure yourself or damage the shield where it cannot be reattached later on. Depending on your wheel, the bearing may have a single shield or one on both sides.
Giving the Bearings a Good Soak
Wondering the next step in how to clean skateboard wheels? You need to clean the bearings too. The best option for cleaning your skateboard bearings is citrus cleaner. Mineral spirits, denatured alcohol, turpentine, and gasoline are likely to damage the bearings. There are two different options for cleaning the bearings. You can choose to spray each one down and then wipe them down or you can soak them in a small container with the cleaner.
If you have access to a bearing cleaning kit, which is sold at local skate shops, you can use this and soak your bearings in a simpler manner. The cleaning kit can be shaken to get the cleaning solution into all the crevices of the bearing. If you want the easiest way to clean the bearings, this is how to do it.
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Spraying the Bearings
Those who choose to spray the bearings just need to hold the bearing in their fingers and spray it with cleaner all over. The natural citrus cleaner is designed to remove and dissolve dirt without causing damage to the bearing components. Once the bearing has been sprayed and spun, a soft rag can be used while you dry the bearing.
Soaking the Bearings
For those who want to soak the bearings, fill up a small bowl with cleaner and then put the bearings inside. You want to be sure the entire bearing is submerged in the liquid. The bearings should soak for around five minutes before you remove them. After you take them out, give them a spin to be sure the cleaning solution reached everything. A soft rag can be used to remove any extra dirt and dry the bearings.
Regardless of the method you choose, you can use a compressed can of air or a hairdryer to dry the bearings even more completely. This will help prevent the formation of rust inside the bearings.
How to Lubricate the Bearings
After your bearings are dry, you will need to lubricate them. There are many lubricants that work well for skateboard wheel bearings but some of the most common are electronic oils, skateboarding oils, and sewing machine oils. The best lubricants are thin and made for items that make a lot of movements. You only need to add two or three drops of lubricant in each bearing.
Once the lubricant is applied, do another spin of the bearings to be sure all of the balls get covered. Any excess oil should be removed from the bearing exterior using a paper towel. Using too much lubricant runs the risk of clogging up the bearing so be cautious. You also should avoid thick oils as a lubricant. Stay away from motor oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil as it can ruin the balls in the bearing.
Reassembling the Bearings and Wheels on Your Skateboard
After you are done with lubricating the bearings, it’s time to put back on the bearing shields. Make sure you have a socket wrench handy for this step. You just place it over the bearing and use your thumbs to snap it back on. Make sure you apply both shields to each bearing if the wheels each had two. These shields are used to keep the bearings protected and lubricated so you can skateboard smoothly.
With the bearings and wheels both clean, you can put the bearings back into the wheels. Take a bearing and put it into one side of the wheel and use your fingers to push it into place. Then you just need to turn the wheel over, add the bearing divider, and put on the second bearing in the same way. This should be done for all wheels and bearings on the skateboard.
Next, you want to reattach the wheels onto the skateboard. Slide each wheel onto the truck axle then place the axle nut onto the outside of the wheel before using a socket wrench to tighten everything up. Make sure to do this for all four of the skateboard wheels. At this point, you have the know-how to clean those wheels any time you need to do so.
Skating smoothly requires a well-cared-for skateboard and that involves keeping the wheels clean. Smoothly spinning wheels help you enjoy your time on a skateboard without trouble. The steps above will give you the insight you need on how to clean skateboard wheels so you can get out there to enjoy your next skating session.