Whether you’re using a skateboard for extreme sport, recreation, or a means to get around, you know just how much fun it brings to your day. There’s nothing like feeling the wind on your face as you speed down the street, or when you share laughter and exciting tricks with friends at the park.
But as the day ends, you can’t stop your joy from ebbing. Looking down at your dirty skateboard, you dread what must follow next – cleaning up your grip tape and risk ruining it again. If you’re wondering how to clean skateboard grip tape, continue reading.
Table of Contents
All You Need Are a Few Things and Diligence
If you ask me how many grip tapes and decks I’d ruined before learning the right way of cleaning my skateboard, I’d lost count of them. It’s been a costly experience, but I did learn the science and techniques after a series of trial and error. The first thing I removed from my assembly of skateboard’s cleaning aids was the cleaning solution.
That’s right. You can use liquid only for a longboard’s grip tape, not a skateboard’s.
Now, let’s clarify that a little before we go to my lists of effective cleaning aids for both skateboard and longboard’s grip tapes.
A skateboard and a longboard have different types of grip tape due to their different functions. As you must already know, a skateboard is designed for technical skateboarding to enable us to enjoy many kinds of tricks and daredevil stunts with our boards. For this reason, a skateboard is equipped with a thin grip tape that allows your feet to move with greater ease.
On the other hand, longboards are perfect for travelling, cruising, and downhill racing due to their higher degree of stability. It’s why these boards are fitted with thicker and sturdier grip tapes which provide more traction.
These characteristics are why you can use cleaning solutions on the grip tapes of longboards, but not on those of skateboards.
Now, here are the 3 methods of cleaning grip tapes for both skateboards and longboards based on their effectiveness:
- Sanding Belt Cleaning Method
- Soft Wire Brush Cleaning Method
- Toothbrush Cleaning Method
And here are the few things you need for each method:
Sanding Belt Cleaning Method:
- Sanding belt cleaner. This is the best cleaning aid you can use for both skateboard and longboard’s grip tapes, costing only $10 more or less. And you can use this cleaner several times, depending on the amount and kind of dirt on your grip tape
- Brush. You may use a toothbrush with hard bristles for this purpose or another type of brush that’s firm enough to sweep off dirt.
- Towel or microfiber cloth. You need this for wiping off remaining dirt and grime.
Soft Wire Brush Cleaning Method:
- Soft wire brush. You can easily purchase one of these from a hardware store or Amazon. Just make sure that it’s the soft type of wire brush, and not the one we use to clean barbecue grills and hard metals.
- Grip gum or rubber cement eraser. Grip gums are also available online, while a rubber cement eraser can be bought from an art store.
- Towel or microfiber cloth
- In case you’re cleaning a longboard’s grip tape, using water with soap or cleaning solution is recommended along with the above.
- Hard toothbrush
- Grip gum or rubber cement eraser
- Towel or microfiber cloth
- In case you’re cleaning a longboard’s grip tape, you can use water with soap or cleaning solution along with the above.
Step-By-Step Guide to Restore the Beauty and Traction of Your Grip Tape
Sanding Belt Cleaning Method:
- Rub the sanding belt cleaner on your grip tape
You can use a piece of sanding belt cleaner or the entire block in cleaning your grip tape, whether that of a skateboard or a longboard. Hold the sanding belt cleaner and start rubbing it on your grip tape from top to bottom, in a straight line and section by section. But, be careful of the areas where the bolts are located. Clean these spots gently.
- For more stubborn dirt, you’ll need to apply more pressure as you rub.
- Use cloth or towel to wipe your sanding belt cleaner to maintain its efficacy.
- Brush away the dirt on your grip tape’s surface before rubbing it again with the sanding belt cleaner.
- Don’t forget to clean the edges, too. If there are frayed parts of the grip tape, you can cut this with a pair of scissors.
- Keep on cleaning systematically until you’re satisfied with the outcome.
- Give your grip tape a final wipe with the towel or microfiber cloth to remove the remaining dirt.
Soft Wire Brush Cleaning Method:
- For cleaning a skateboard’s grip tape, you must hold the soft wire brush properly. You may opt to use a pair of hand gloves to avoid getting scraped.
- With this method, you use circular strokes to gently clean your grip tape.
- Apply more pressure for stubborn dirt, be mindful of bolted areas
Apply a bit more pressure in case some of the dirt refuses to easily come off. But, be careful of the bolted areas since you can damage the grip tape if you use too much force on these uneven sections.
- After brushing, use a grip gum or rubber cement eraser to clean the surface more thoroughly.
- Wipe the grip tape with the microfiber cloth or towel to see if it still needs more cleaning.
- Repeat the process until your desired result is attained.
- Use a cleaning solution for longboards if necessary
Now, for cleaning a longboard’s grip tape, you can choose to buy a cleaning solution or mix some water with soap to facilitate the cleaning process. Since a longboard’s grip tape is thicker and sturdier, you don’t have to worry about the liquid penetrating the deck and causing its wooden layers to warp.
- Just dip the soft wire brush into the liquid and brush the surface in circular motion.
- Wipe the surface with a towel or cloth every now and then to remove the dirt.
- Keep brushing and wiping until the grip tape looks clean.
- Dry the grip tape
Dry the grip tape completely before rubbing it with a grip gum or rubber cement eraser. The sure way to do this is to put layers of microfiber cloth on your grip tape and allow several hours for these to absorb the moisture.
- Cut away frayed edges of the grip tape with a pair of scissors, if necessary.
- Wipe with a dry cloth one more time and it’s ready to use again.
- Make sure to use a toothbrush with hard bristles. With this method, you cannot expect to achieve the result which a sanding belt cleaner and a soft wire brush can do for you.
- Still, a toothbrush can help to remove some dirt from your grip tape. Just use circular strokes while brushing, applying more pressure where the dirt sticks stubbornly.
- Wipe the grip tape with a towel or cloth to clear up the surface.
- Repeat the process as necessary.
- Afterwards, use a grip gum or rubber cement eraser for a smoother finish.
- Use a cleaning solution on longboards if necessary
In case you’re cleaning a longboard’s grip tape with this method, you can use a cleaning solution or soapy water to aid your effort. All you need to do is dip the toothbrush into the liquid and start brushing the grip tape in circular motions, section by section.
- Wipe off the dirt with a towel or cloth.
- Repeat as necessary.
- Let the grip tape dry for about 3-4 hours before cleaning some more with a grip gum or rubber cement eraser.
- Give your grip tape a final wipe with a dry cloth before you use your longboard again.
Tips to Save You More Time and Money
Of course, you always have the option to simply replace a dirty grip tape with a new one. But, you’ll also realize that cleaning a dirty grip tape is easier than to repeatedly remove a dirty grip tape and stick a new one on your board’s deck. Besides, this is a habit that’s worth cultivating since your board has more parts that also need maintenance.
If you want to have more time for fun and enjoy more savings in the long run, always remember the following:
- Avoid skateboarding in muddy and extremely dirty places.
- Don’t wait for dirt to harden, so you can clean your grip tape much more easily.
- If a chewing gum sticks to your board, remove it immediately.
- Letting your board dry under the sun for a brief period before cleaning will also help to quicken the process.
- Change your grip tape once it has lost its traction.
Do you now feel more comfortable with the idea of proper care and maintenance to make your skateboard last? Hopefully you now know how to clean skateboard grip tape after reading this post. Spread its benefits to others by sharing this article or writing a helpful comment. There’s more fun and happiness in a world where people look after one another.
I am Michael, and I have been enjoying this fun sport for seven years. And nothing is better than having a community to share our passion for those thrilling tricks. I am ready to tell you all I know about skateboarding, showing you how to choose a good board and trick to start and how the practice goes. Stay tuned!