Are you tired of your skateboard making strange noises and moving slower than a sloth on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Well, the culprit might just be your dirty bearings! Bearings are perhaps the most essential component of your skateboard. You’ll not be able to ride the board smoothly when they are clogged with dirt or grime.
This makes cleaning your skate bearings incredibly necessary. That’s why, we are here to guide you about how to clean skateboard bearings at home without lube. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a mechanical genius to do it, with a little bit of know-how and elbow grease, you can easily clean them like a pro and have them spinning like new again.
Note: cleaning and lubricating bearings can make a skateboard faster (an easy tip)!
- How to Clean Skateboard Bearings with Household Items
- When You Should Clean Your Bearings
- Tips to Increasing the Longevity of Skateboard Bearings
- Final Verdict
How to Clean Skateboard Bearings with Household Items
A common misconception is that you can use WD-40® or other lubricants to help clean the skateboard bearings. This is not the case; any kind of oil-based lubricant will only attract more dirt and grime into the bearing cavity, negatively affecting performance, rather than cleaning them out.
The most effective and economical way to clean longboard bearings is by using a household cleaning solvent, Acetone or some Isopropyl Alcohol (the rubbing kind).
Follow these easiest steps to clean your ABEC soldiers;
What to Use to Clean Metal Bearings
- A Skate tool or Wrench
- Pair of gloves
- A Tray to store hardware
- Razor Blade / Knife / Safety pin
- Paper Towels
- Metal or Plastic tin with a lid
- Isopropyl Based Alcohol or Grease Cleaner
- Bearing Lubricant
Note: It is recommended to wipe the complete skateboard with a rag before starting the bearings cleaning process. Also, wear household gloves to protect your hands.
Step 1: Remove Wheels and Bearings
You need to take the bearings out of the shields in order to perform deep cleaning. Start by taking off the wheels from the truck axles. Remove axle nuts, slide the wheels halfway on the axle while it is still holding the bearings, and twist the wheels towards the outside direction to take them down. Now, take a screwdriver to prise out the bearings from the wheels.
When the bearings are out of the wheels, remove the shields with a sharp object like a knife, razor blade or safety pin. Be careful and don’t ruin the shields when taking them off.
Also, apply as little force as required, excess pressure will result in bending the shields.
Note: You may find some spacers in between the bearings. Some skate companies make built-in spacers and others design them separately to sit in between the bearings. Make sure to remove them carefully.
It is advised to store wheels, washers and axle nuts in a separate container to keep them safe and find them in one place while reassembling. (Try not to lose any of them)
Step 2: Soak the Bearings in Cleaning Solvent
We recommend using Isopropyl based alcohol, it works like a magic to remove all the stuck lube and grime from the metal. Bones is the best solvent for cleaning bearings, period!
Once the bearings have been soaked for about 15 minutes, put the lid on the container and shake it in a circular motion. After that, wipe each component one by one using a piece of rag or paper towel.
Upon cleaning them completely, give them a final rinse with clean solvent and let them dry in the air (you can use a hairdryer if you are rushing). Now your metal bearings must be sparkling clean!
You can use this method to clean bearings of all types of skateboards.
Step 3: Apply Lube on Metal Bearings
After removing all the grime and gunk and drying them out, now it’s time to re-lubricate them for smooth performance. Place the balls back in and bearings and put 2 drops of skate lube into the bearings, spin them gently to spread the lubricant evenly. Repeat the process for all the bearing sets.
Tip: apply the skateboard bearings lubricant only on the sides of bearings facing inwards – do not apply on the outside as it will attract dirt and grime quickly.
Step 4: Assemble
Once you are done with re-lubing the bearings, now it’s time to assemble them, it is quite easy! Simply put the bearing shield in its place and gently press until the snap-in. Do not forget to place the spacer if there was any. Wipe any leftover grease from the outside of the bearings before slipping them inside the wheels. Your brand new clean bearings are ready to roll for speedy rides!
Note: always check the spacers’ condition before placing them back in the bearings. If they are damaged or have some cracks, it is better to replace them! And, do not forget to put the washers back while tightening the wheels on the axles.
See which are the highest quality electric longboards of 2023.
Video Tutorial on Cleaning Your Skateboard Bearings
When You Should Clean Your Bearings
Generally, dirt and moisture can build up in a bearing set and cause skaters quite a bit of grief. It’s important to give those bearings an occasional clean so that they continue rolling smoothly, no matter what your terrain.
Always be mindful of any ticking noises during skating because this may be an indication that your bearings are in need of a bath. Also, keep an ear open when riding the board. If you feel like the bearings are struggling as you roll along, it could also indicate excess dirt and other contaminants are building up within the core.
Always keep the bearings clean to experience the benefits of skateboarding.
For a quick inspection, place the wheels close to your ears and give them a few spins. If you hear a cracking sound, or some sand particles fighting their way against bearing balls, it’s time for a deep clean. If you want deep cracks inside the bearings, it will be better to replace them to avoid accidents.
Is It Worth It to Clean Skateboard Bearings?
Tips to Increasing the Longevity of Skateboard Bearings
Bearings help you ride the board, period. These hidden gems of a skateboard should be taken care of properly to ensure their durability and optimum performance.
Here are some tips to reduce the chances of wear and tear on your skateboard bearings and eventually increase the lifespan;
- Purchase quality skateboards, they usually cost more but are worth the price and better lasting (Bones bearings are the best)
- Try not to skate in sandy or dirty locations, if you do, immediately give a bath to your precious bearings
- Avoid riding in water or washing them with just water
- Lubricate your bearings after three or four rides to reduce the chances of friction
- NEVER use WD40 to clean the bearings, they will damage them!
Whether you are a daily rider or a casual skater, it’s important to keep your bearings in top condition. Cleaning them regularly is going to prolong their lifespan, keep them rolling fast, and reduce the amount of dirt and grime getting into them.
So, be sure to use the tips we have explained on how to clean skateboard bearings to keep them gunk-free and your board running smoothly. We recommend cleaning the bearings with isopropyl alcohol – it is the most effective way!
Note: Your bearings need cleaning only after two or three months depending on the skating environment. If you ride close to the beach or dusty area, it is advised to inspect bearings conditions every second month (if you are a frequent rider).
Also, read the guide on cleaning the grip tape for better control over your board.
Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)
What can you use to clean skateboard bearings?
You can use Acetone and Isopropyl Alcohol (the rubbing kind) to clean skateboard bearings. We advise soaking the dismantled bearings into the cleaning solvent for about 15 minutes, keep swirling after a couple of minutes! Note: always use gloves while cleaning skateboard bearings or wheels.
Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean my skateboard bearings?
Yes, absolutely fine! Actually, rubbing alcohol is the best solvent to clean your skateboard bearings. It will eliminate all the build-up gunk of dirt and oil. And, make the ABEC balls and bearings sparkling clean as new.
Is it bad to clean my skateboard bearings?
No, it is not bad to clean your skateboard bearings. In fact, you should clean the bearings occasionally. If you do not clean them and continue riding with dirty bearings, you’ll definitely damage them permanently. Moreover, clogged bearings may stuck while you are performing tricks or riding downhill, resulting in a serious accident. So, it is advised to clean them regularly depending on the expected dirt build-up due to skating location.
Can you use WD40 on skateboard bearings?
No, we do not recommend using WD40 on skateboard bearings. It will completely dry out the bearings, resulting in excess friction and causing a disturbance in riding. Also, you won’t be able to speed and ride smoothly. Dry bearings get damaged sooner than they are expected to!
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