Skateboarders tend to find themselves in all sorts of places, from dusty side streets to sandy promenades. In this regard, dirt and debris come with the territories, hence it’s vital to clean and maintain your wheels.
Skateboards that are looked after will last much longer, and to be honest, there’s something cathartic about the process of deconstructing and cleaning your board.
That being said, let’s take a deep dive into how to clean your skateboard wheels, as they’re the part of your ride that takes the most flack.
How to Clean Skateboard Wheels
First, identify a flat, clean workspace where you can safely take apart your board without losing any parts. Then, remove the wheels and bearings. Soak your wheels in a bowl of warm, soapy water to loosen up any dirt before brushing it off with a wire brush or toothbrush. Dry them and reassemble your board.
Preparing your Workspace
A good and secure workspace will prevent you from losing any of the small components that make up your board.
Removing your wheels entails loosening their sockets and dislodging their bearings, so you’re going to be dealing with quite a few different parts.
Prepping your workspace will also allow you to get the job done easily and quickly with minimal mess or fuss.
Make sure you have the correct tools at your disposal, namely a socket wrench, a bowl of warm soapy water, a brush for scrubbing, and a towel for drying.
Removing the Wheels from your Board
Once your workspace is ready, you can proceed to remove your wheels.
Using your socket wrench, loosen the wheel nuts, one at a time, and take off each wheel.
The next step, which is removing your bearings, is crucial. You absolutely do not want to get water into your bearings, as this can cause numerous issues.
Pry them out of your wheels using the tip of your truck’s axels or a small doweling rod. Take care not to hurt them.
Once this process is complete, you should have four wheels, four axel nuts, and eight bearings safely set out on your workspace.
Cleaning your Skateboard Wheels
Because of the various terrains they experience, skateboard wheels can collect a lot of dirt. Regular and thorough cleaning is part and parcel of maintaining your board and should be conducted often.
Experienced skateboarders will tell you that they know when their boards are up for a clean as the performance of the various parts starts to deteriorate.
To clean your wheels, immerse them in warm, soapy water and scrub away any build-up or dirt with a wire brush or toothbrush (depending on how dirty we’re talking).
For extra stubborn dirt, you may need to run your wheels under hot water and apply soap directly to your brush before scrubbing.
Even so, try to get your wheels out of the water the quickest you can. Wheels are porous, and the last thing you want is a build-up of sogginess in their material.
The same goes for soaps and detergents. Rinse your wheels thoroughly to make sure it’s all off.
At this stage, you should clean and service your skateboard bearings. This process differs from cleaning your wheels, and bearings should never be exposed to water.
Instead, they are taken apart, and each component is cleaned and oiled before being put back together.
Once you’re satisfied that your wheels are clean, dry them off with a clean towel.
You must dry your wheels properly, or else you run the risk of waterlogging your wheels (making them heavy and sluggish) or rusting your bearings or trucks.
Putting your Board Back Together
Once the cleaning process is complete, you can put your fresh wheels and bearings back in place. Make sure your bearings and nuts are secure and that everything’s aligned as expected.
At this stage, seasoned skaters often recommend rotating your wheels to even out their wear and tear, just as one would with a car.
Ideally, this will extend their lifespans and keep you riding smoother for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Clean Skateboard Wheels
How often should I clean and rotate my wheels?
This depends on how often you skate. If you are on your board multiple times per week, you should service it (including wheels and bearings) every two to three months. That being said, if your wheels or bearings become dirty or clogged sooner, tend to them immediately.
Does size matter when it comes to skateboard wheels?
The size of your wheels depends on how laid-back or technical you want your ride to be. Bigger wheels are better for smoother rides, longboards, and rougher terrain, and smaller wheels are better for complicated maneuvers, tricks, and tight turns.
What’s the material used when creating skateboard wheels?
Polyurethane is the material making up skateboard wheels, which is a porous material that can take a lot of pressure and exertion. Plastic wheels would be unable to grip on terrain, whereas rubber wheels would split and break.
Your skateboard’s wheels are an important part of what makes a ride so fun, and for this reason, they should be cared for and maintained.
It may seem like a bit of grind work at the offset, but the process is quick and easy and always worth it.