Skateboarders know how much wear and tear a skateboard can go through after a few intense sessions at the park or on the streets. Dirty wheels not only look unsightly, but they can also impact your ride by slowing you down and reducing your traction. That’s why we have shared this guide to teach you how to clean skateboard wheels like a pro, using easy-to-find materials and simple techniques.
Skateboarding often ends up messy because skateboarders love abusing the concrete by grinding and sliding through the grimiest obstacles we can find. No matter where we skate, it is nice to remember how much wheels bear the brunt of abuse over time. As an experienced skater myself, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep my wheels spinning smoothly.
So, if you are looking to refresh your wheels from the filth of oil blotches, gravel, or some gum, follow these easy steps to keep skate wheels fresh for exciting rides.
P.S. – If you are looking for new wheels, be sure to read test-based reviews of the Best Skateboard Wheels of 2023.
- How to Clean Skateboard Wheels – Complete Guide
- When to Replace Your Skateboard Wheels?
- Clean Skateboard Wheels Without Removing Them
- Final Verdict
How to Clean Skateboard Wheels – Complete Guide
Skateboard wheels can get pretty dirty and they are easy to clean. It does not require any special ability to remove grime and build-up dirt. You can clean skate wheels at home to make them look brand-new using some cleaning solution and elbow grease.
Note: Make sure to inspect the wheels’ condition before cleaning them, if they are too rough or damaged – we advise replacing them for better performance.
Here’s a simple and easy way to clean your dirty wheels;
Things Required to Clean Skateboard Wheels
- Sink or Bucket of Water
- Skate Tool or Socket Wrench
- A container for storing repair tools (Optional)
- Razor Blade
- Dishwashing Liquid
- Bowl or container for the cleaning solution
- Paper Towel
- Lubricating Oil
Step 1: Initial Preparations
Before cleaning a skateboard, grab a shop rag and wipe down the entire board with warm water to remove the surface dirt. If there is no warm water, normal temperature water will do fine as well.
Be sure to dry off the skateboard completely before moving on to removing parts etc.
Place your skateboard on a smooth level surface to work on it so you don’t have debris under your feet getting in your way.
For best results use a skate tool for your particular board and replace parts only when the manufacturer recommends it (although you may want to go ahead if it’s obviously worn out or damaged beyond repair).
Step 2: Remove Wheels and Bearings
Here comes the technical part of cleaning the skate wheels. To remove the wheels from your skateboard, you need to first remove the bolts at the top (axle) of each individual wheel with a socket wrench or skate tool.
Once those bolts are removed, set them aside and bring the truck axle down until its mouth meets the center of each wheel’s bearing. Drive both sides of the truck axle into their respective bearings at a 45-degree angle to give yourself enough leverage to pry out your wheels, one at a time.
You might want to clean your bearings as well if they are dirty – take care that you don’t damage them during this process, however!
Once you have all four wheels off, proceed to set them to rest nearby in an appropriate space so that they won’t get wet during this step!
Note: Keep the wheels, bearings, nuts and washers in a separate container, so that you don’t lose them and find them in one place while reassembling the board.
Here’s a complete guide to clean bearings to restore their efficiency.
Step 3: Clean the Wheels
Now comes the most important part – giving a proper wash to the wheels! Before giving them a bath, it is recommended to remove dirt build-ups for better results: follow the below steps;
1. Get a bowl of warm water and add some mild dishwashing soap to it, like Seventh Generation or Cascade
2. Put the skateboard wheels in the cleaning solution and let them soak for about 15 to 20 minutes
3. Take the wheels out one by one and scrub them with a soft toothbrush
4. Put them under running water and give mild scrubbing to remove any leftover dirt
5. Once they are completely cleaned, pat dry with a paper towel
6. Leave them in the air for a few minutes to dry out all the moisture
7. Put some petroleum jelly on your finger and rub it around the inside of the wheels to make sure they don’t get too dry to avoid cracks
Your skateboard wheels are now sparkling clean and ready to roll as new!
Step 4: Clean the Bearings (Recommended)
Bearings boost the smooth ride and help in speeding, so why not give them a fresher look? Indeed, spending a few minutes to clean your bearings will benefit you in the long run.
Remove the shields and soak the bearings in a cup/container of isopropyl alcohol. Shake the container in a circular motion to remove any oil or dirt from the bearings, which could cause unnecessary friction while spinning.
Rinse them thoroughly with warm water and dry them using a clean paper towel. Apply a few drops of lubricating oil and rotate the bearings to spread evenly.
Wheels run too fast and find it difficult to stop? See how to brake on a skateboard the right way!
Step 5: Reassemble the Wheels and Skateboard
After cleaning your wheels and bearings, you can then put the bearings back into their respective wheels. Simply place the bearing on one side of a wheel and snap it into place using your fingers. Carefully turn over the wheel to put the shield of the bearing into place. Repeat this process to insert all the remaining bearings.
Now, it’s time to attach the wheels to the truck axles. Slide each wheel onto the truck axle, and put the axle nut on the outside of the wheel.
Pick up the socket wrench to tighten the nut, then give a spin to the wheels to make sure of the tightness. Beware not to over-tighten the nut, otherwise, you won’t be able to spin your wheels.
Video Tutorial on How to Clean Skateboard Wheels
When to Replace Your Skateboard Wheels?
Cleaning your skateboard wheels gives you an opportunity to inspect the gear condition. Run your fingertips thoroughly on the surface of the wheels to look for signs of wear like chipped areas or broken parts.
Also, try to sense the movements while spinning the wheels and notice if there is any loose bearing or nut. If you notice a damaged or chipped area, or moving in abnormal motion, then this is a sign of getting new wheels!
Read how long your skateboard wheels last and when is the right time to replace them.
It’s true that slight movement is expected but if the wheels wobble a lot while spinning, or cracks are on the edge, we advise replacing the wheels. The faster you act on this issue by having them professionally repaired or replaced, the less likely you are going to damage yourself while riding!
See which are the best rated skateboard companies these days that make high-quality skateboards and components!
Clean Skateboard Wheels Without Removing Them
In case you might be asking yourself if there is a way to clean skate wheels without taking them off, YES, that’s okay! Here’s how to clean your longboard wheels without taking them off the board
1. Make a cleaning mixture using warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid
2. Spray each wheel with this cleaning solution (make sure not to spray on the trucks or wooden skateboard deck)
3. Use a brush or rag to spread the soap around the wheels and scrub them nicely
4. When the soap is worked into the dirt, use the rag to wipe it away
5. Let the wheels air dry for about 15 to 20 minutes
6. Add some grease/lubricant to the bolts on the wheels to help them spin easily
Cleaning wheels are often overlooked, but it’s important that your wheels are clean and working correctly. When you take the time to clean skateboard wheels, it improves the performance of your board, prevents dangerous accidents, and increases the life of your wheels. Moreover, you can reduce the number of times you have to replace them.
Now that you know how to clean skateboard wheels, it’s time to make them debris and grime free to enjoy vigorous rides. We advise skateboarders to clean wax buildup to enjoy the benefits of a healthy set of wheels.
Pro Tip: if you have time left to spare, use the guide to clean your skateboard grip tape to avoid slippage from the deck.
Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)
Is it okay to wash skateboard wheels?
Yes, it’s okay to wash skateboard wheels to remove dirt build-up, grease and grime. We advise using warm water and mild dish soap to make a cleaning solution. If you have disassembled wheels to wash them separately, we recommend soaking in the solution for about 15 minutes then scrub and rinse.
If you are washing without removing them from the board, just spray the cleaning mixture on the wheels and wipe soap using a shop rag.
Can you clean skateboard wheels with wipes?
Yes, you can clean skateboard wheels with wipes! However, if the wheels have strong oil or greasy stains, then they will not get cleaned properly. Speaking of the experience, we advise giving a proper clean to the wheels to regain optimum performance.
How do you clean skate wheels without taking them off?
It’s quite simple! Make a cleaning mixture using warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Spray each wheel with this cleaning solution and use a brush or rag to spread the soap around the wheels and scrub.
When the soap is worked into the dirt, use the rag to wipe it away and let them air dry for about 15 minutes. Once they are completely dried, apply lubricant to the bolts on the wheels to help them spin easily
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