Yes, you can use household items to clean these sensitive parts of your skateboard! There’s nothing to worry about as long as you know how to disassemble and reassemble a bearing and which household items are safe to use.
You’ll be surprised to learn that aside from acetone, you can use citrus fruits like lemon to remove dirt and rust from your bearings effectively.
Read on to learn how to clean skateboard bearings with household items.
Table of Contents
- Convenience at Your Fingertips
- Step 1: Removing Wheels from Your Skateboard Trucks
- Step 2: Removing The Bearings from Each Wheel
- Step 3: Properly Removing Shields According to Their Type
- Step 4: Cleaning Your Dirty Skateboard Bearings the Right Way
- Step 5: Lubricating Your Bearings with the Right Lubricating Agents
- Step 6: Time to Put Back the Bearing Shields
- Step 7: Re-installing the Bearing into Each Wheel
Convenience at Your Fingertips
Bearings are so small, but their heavy duties will amaze you. They’re responsible for your wheels’ speed and efficiency as these roll over various kinds of surfaces – some smooth, others shockingly difficult.
However, over time, they do start to accumulate dirt and grime. That’s why they need regular maintenance to maintain their strength and efficacy.
Here are the things you need to clean your dirty bearings, which you can easily find in the kitchen, garage, and other parts of your house.
- Skate tool
You need this for removing the wheels from your skateboard, but you can also use a socket wrench.
- Sewing needle
In case you can’t find a needle, a paper clip will do since it’s also small enough for prying a bearing’s shield or seal.
Most people prefer this nail polish removing solvent for loosening and dissolving dirt in bearings. But there are other solutions which have been proven to be just as effective such as 90% isopropyl alcohol, non-water-based citrus cleaner, and pure lemon juice.
- Hair dryer
You can use this electronic device in place of a compressed air can for drying bearings.
- Sewing machine oil
Skate bearing lubricant is the best lubricating agent to use for skateboard bearings. But, you can also trust sewing machine oil or oil for electronic gadgets to do the same job since these are light oils.
- Water mixed with dishwashing soap
- Clean jar or bottle with lid
- Small tray
You may also use lint-free towels or a batch of paper towels for cleaning and drying purposes.
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands (optional)
Step 1: Removing Wheels from Your Skateboard Trucks
Place your skateboard on a clean table sideways. With a skate tool or socket wrench, start removing the wheels one by one by loosening the screws of the axle nuts. Carefully remove the screws and axle washers and place them on a small tray where you can easily retrieve these small components once you’re ready to put back the wheels.
Cruisin City suggests that you take this opportunity to rotate your skateboard’s wheels, as well. When putting back the wheels after cleaning the bearings, you should place the top right wheel to the bottom left and the top left wheel to the bottom right.
Then, you must put the bottom right wheel to the top left and the bottom left wheel to the top right. This way, you’ll be able to prolong the lifespan of your skateboard wheels.
Step 2: Removing The Bearings from Each Wheel
Remember that there are 2 bearings in each wheel, located on either side. You can pry them one by one, using the truck’s axle. Just insert the axle tip into the bearing and pull out a bit forcefully yet cautiously. You must avoid damaging the bearing’s shield, or else you’ll have to buy new bearings.
Step 3: Properly Removing Shields According to Their Type
Familiarize yourself with the parts of a bearing to make the cleaning process easy. You’ll understand which you must treat with more care and which parts you can clean with a stronger solution.
You must also take note that when it comes to a bearing’s shield or seal, there are 2 types of them. The older models have metal shields, which are secured with circlips or snap rings. New models, on the other hand, have rubber or nylon shields.
For removing a metal shield, use a needle and locate one of the circlip’s ends between the outer race and the shield. Hook up the circlip and remove, the shield will now come out of the bearing easily.
For removing a rubber/nylon shield, you can use a needle or paper clip in prying it out of the bearing. But, you must do this carefully without bending the shield.
When done, clean the shields with water and dishwashing soap. In case of metal shields, dry them up immediately to avoid rusting. Never put shields in solvents like acetone, which can damage these sensitive parts.
Step 4: Cleaning Your Dirty Skateboard Bearings the Right Way
After removing and cleaning the shields, it’s time to clean up the bearings themselves.
Half-fill a jar or bottle with acetone. You may also use isopropyl alcohol, non-water-based citrus cleaner, or lemon juice. Just make sure that there’s no water in whatever solution you’re choosing to use because it will cause rust to develop in the bearings.
Now, place the bearings inside the jar and let the solution start loosening the dirt and dissolving the grease for at least 5 minutes. Then, slowly shake the jar to further clean up the bearings before removing them one by one.
Put the bearings on a clean rag or towel and dry them up. Then, use a hair dryer or compressed air to ensure there’s no residue in the bearings from the solvent or citrus solution. It’s for this reason why many skateboarders prefer acetone in cleaning up bearings; it dries up quickly.
There’s another effective and convenient way to clean bearings, and that’s with the use of Bones Bearings Cleaning Unit which you can purchase from Amazon. It consists of a bottle and a metal rod where bearings are placed alternating with spacers. This way, when you shake the bottle, the bearings don’t bump against one another.
When it comes to citrus cleaner, you can make this solution at home but you must allow time for its preparation. Stock up an air-tight glass bottle with lemon or orange peels and fill it up with white vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of weeks, then it’s ready to use.
Step 5: Lubricating Your Bearings with the Right Lubricating Agents
If you don’t have a skate bearing lubricant at home, you can use either sewing machine oil or oil for electronic gadgets. Don’t use motor oil, WD-40, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they’re unsuitable for bearings.
Also, be careful of the amount of oil you’ll be putting on each bearing. Just 2 – 3 drops directed on the steel balls are enough. Too much oil will make dirt quickly accumulate inside the bearing, impacting its performance. It can even damage the bearings and steel balls themselves due to clogs.
Step 6: Time to Put Back the Bearing Shields
With the bearings properly lubricated, you can now put back the shields one by one. Make sure that the shields remain flat in the process, since they can get damaged when bent. Just press the shield back firmly, including the circlips for metal shields.
Step 7: Re-installing the Bearing into Each Wheel
This is easier than removing a bearing from the wheel, but with almost a similar technique. With the shield side facing downward, place the bearing on the axle. Then, put the wheel on top and press until the bearing gets inserted into its proper position inside the core. Don’t forget the spacer if your wheel uses this between bearings.
After re-installing the bearings, screw back the axle nuts along with the washers and tighten them to further secure the bearings. Spin each wheel to check. Then, go for a ride to help spread the lubricant in your bearings. It will take several minutes for your wheels to speed up during this “warm-up,” but soon your skateboard will feel brand new again.
Just in case you want to know how frequently you must clean your skateboard bearings, I do mine every 2 months or when the wheels start to give me trouble due to accumulated dirt. As for changing the bearings, it’s best to do it when there’s too much rust or some of its components like the steel balls are broken.
Does your home now feel even friendlier and cozier, knowing it’s always stocked with useful items? Things you can even use for your skateboard’s care and maintenance? You’re welcome to share this knowledge with friends, so they’ll know how to clean skateboard bearings with household items. I’ll also appreciate your feedback.