Some things including skateboards and longboards aren’t meant to stay clean all the time. Naturally, if you’re gliding around town or bombing dusty hills even some of the time, your skateboard will get dirty. And, few skateboarders worry much about how their skateboard looks. But when dirt and grime start slowing your skateboard and whacking its overall performance, it’s time to learn how to clean a skateboard.
Nothing Sucks Like a Slow Skateboard
How do you know your skateboard needs a thorough clean? For me, it’s when my skateboard slows down almost to a stop three seconds after a power-packed push.
And it sucks! I hate it when I can’t roll down the bike path around my house as fast as I’d like.
While I don’t dislike disassembling my skateboard to clean its bearings, wheels, and trucks, it’s not something I particularly enjoy. But that’s just the way life is — no joy without a little sacrifice.
In the end, I have to spend an entire afternoon on a sunny Saturday cleaning my skateboard. That’s the price I have to pay for a skateboard that rolls like a dream — better than it rolled when I broke the wheels in.
I’ll never really enjoy cleaning my skateboard. But it’s a monthly routine I stay committed to because I love how smoothly my four-wheeled contraption spins afterward.
Let’s now focus on why you’re here. You want to learn how to deep-clean your skateboard and restore it to its initial performance. Luckily for you, that’s what this how-to post laser-focuses on.
Cleaning a Skateboard Focuses on Two Main Parts
A skateboard features many important parts. And all of these components get dirty with constant riding. But when it comes to tidying up your skateboard, only two parts need your attention.
If you clean the bearings and trucks of your skateboard and ignore every other part, that should be enough care.
Some skaters also clean the deck and the wheels. And that’s OK.
Me? I really don’t see any good reason for wanting to clean the deck or the wheels. Why clean skateboard wheels when they’re meant to roll on dusty roads and gather dirt in no time?
Why clean the deck when you’ll be landing many tricks, each of which makes it dirtier than the previous one?
Here, I’ll focus on how to clean skateboard bearings as well as how to keep your trucks in tip-top condition.
My objective here is to show you how you can restore your skateboard to fast speeds while boosting your bearings’ longevity.
Let’s start with cleaning your lazy skateboard bearings.
How to Clean Your Skateboard Bearings
I wrote not too long ago a detailed post about how to clean skateboard bearings. If you prefer to read the longer version of the cleaning process, follow that link. There, you’ll find a comprehensive skateboard bearing cleaning guide.
In this post, though, I’ll simply summarize the bearing cleaning process to give you an idea of what you’re supposed to do.
Gather Together What You Need for the Clean
To clean your skateboard’s bearings, you need a container for holding the cleaning solvent. What if the cleaner you’re using didn’t come in a bottle that lets you submerge your bearing? A good example of a hassle-free cleaner is the Bones Cleaning Unit. See the image below to understand how this cleaning unit works.
Rummage around your house for any kind of small lidded container. I use a small glass jar. You could also cut off the top part of a water bottle and use the lower part to soak your bearings. Maybe use some heavy piece of cloth to cover the top?
Also, get a piece of clean dry cloth on which to lay your bearings after cleaning them. You can also use this cloth or paper towels to dry your bearings if you’re not the patient type.
Stay Away from WD40
I don’t recommend using WD40 to clean skateboard bearings. This viscous product causes bearings to dry out too soon.
But it gets even worse. WD40 is amazing when it comes to pulling in dirt particles that end up clogging up your bearings.
Some skaters use WD40 to lube their bearings. And while nothing too bad ever happens, pro-WD40 skaters end up cleaning their bearings too often. Plus, they find that their bearings need re-lubing too soon pretty much all the time.
If you’re always anti-something, ignore my advice and use WD40 to lubricate your bearings. I mean, it’s your skateboard, your money, your decision.
Everyone else should find a good WD40 alternative. Look for something that’s formulated for use as a bearing cleaner.
Amazon carries tons of good WD40 alternatives for cleaning skateboard bearings. Bones Speed Cream is a great bet. And the good thing with Bones Speed Cream is that you can immerse your dirty bearings into the bottle this cleaner comes in.
Follow this Procedure to Clean Your Skateboard Bearings
Unscrew your wheels from the frame and remove the bearings using an Allen wrench or an inline wheel tool. For some types of bearings, I found that an inline wheel too works better.
Next, remove the shields that protect your bearings from environmental dirt.
Then, pour some cleaner into the jar or container and add your bearings. Swirl the contents inside and then leave the container to stand for about half an hour.
Next, take the bearings out of the bottle or container and repeat this step for 5-10 minutes. You know your bearings are clean if the cleaner doesn’t get murky.
Now, remove the clean bearings and spread them out on a dry cloth or paper towels. To dry the bearings faster, rub them gently with paper towels or cloth.
Next, re-lubricate your bearings. Then, spin your bearings with your fingers to make sure the oil spreads to every part of each bearing.
After that, return the shields and re-insert your bearings into the wheels. Finally, re-mount the wheels onto the frame, step on the deck, and hit the skate park.
How to Clean Skateboard Trucks
Here’s what you need to clean your skateboard’s trucks:
- Paper towels
- New parts such as washers, bushings, kingpin, axle, and pivot cups (To replace existing parts if they’re worn out or cracked)
- A pair of dirty and grimy skateboard trucks
- Skate tool
- Household paraffin wax
Now that you’ve collected every supply you need to do a thorough job, roll your sleeves and start working.
Clean skateboard trucks look good. What’s more, clean items tend to outlast dirty ones. Clean and lubed trucks also perform better and squeak less than dirty trucks. That’s why your skateboarding cleaning efforts should pay enough attention to this vital part.
So, how do you clean skateboard trucks? Giving skateboard trucks a deep clean necessitates disassembling them first. I mean, how would you access the bushings, washers, hanger, and kingpin without dismantling the trucks?
How to disassemble your trucks to access every component
Grab your skate tool and put it to work on the nut on the head of the kingpin. Turn it until the giant bolt gets loose enough, and then remove this pin.
Then, separate the hanger from the baseplate. Next, take off the washer (if it’s there), top bushings, and bottom bushings.
At this point, turn to WD40. WD40 is precisely the product you need to wipe off grime, stains, and other filth from every component of your skateboard trucks.
I don’t know of a better solution for stubborn stains on metal, plastic, and other surfaces than WD40.
Take your WD40 and spray a little of that thick fluid onto paper towels. Then, wipe off any dirt or grime that might be on the hanger, bushings, washers, and every other part greasy component. You want to pay particular attention to the axles as gunked-up bearings deposit tons of filthy gobs on them.
If your skateboard trucks are noisy or squeak too much, now is the time to address the underlying issues. And here is….
How to Fix Squeaky Skateboard or Longboard Trucks
Nothing annoys me more than squeaky skateboard trucks. If the noise isn’t too loud, I can endure it, and I’m sure you too can tolerate it.
But if the noise gets too loud, it becomes something you want to get rid of soonest you can.
What causes noisy skateboard or longboard trucks? For the most part, this joy-killing noise happens when the bottom bushing constantly rubs against the hanger.
Sometimes the noise can come from the top bushings. So, make sure to locate the precise point from where the noise emanates. Alternatively, wax up every moving part of the trucks as described in the video below.
Lots of YouTube skate experts advise you to use WD40, lubricants, or even baby powder to fix noisy trucks. And these solutions work — for a while. But what you need is a permanent fix, right?
Use Household Paraffin Wax to Eliminate Skateboard Truck Noise
If you’re looking for a permanent fix for noisy skateboard trucks, watch the video below.
To silence squeaky skateboard or longboard trucks, use household paraffin wax. You can certainly use regular candles. But the odds are that the candles you’ll get are a mixture of paraffin wax, plant wax, and beeswax.
It’s best to rush to your local grocery store and buy a box of household paraffin wax. It costs around five bucks. And you only need a very small amount of wax. Plus, you can use the rest of it to wax ledges at the skatepark.
So, get a grater, the one you use for grating carrots. Use this grate to get a nice little pile of wax shavings off the little wax bars.
Once you have enough grated wax, use your fingers to put some of it in the pivot cups, especially the walls. Also, apply some wax on the bushings, both the top and bottom bushings.
And don’t forget to wax the washers as well as the hangar pivots. I also suggest that you apply some wax on the surfaces of the hangars where the bushings sit.
Reassemble Your Skateboard Trucks
At this point, you’ve done everything you should do to have clean trucks. Now, it’s time to reassemble the trucks, attach the wheels, gear up, and go skating.
To learn how to re-assemble your trucks, read this post: How to Assemble a Skateboard. In that article, I’ve described how to set up everything right.
Remember not to tighten the kingpin nut too much or loosen it excessively. But how should I loosen or tighten my skateboard trucks?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single definitive answer to that question. You’ll just have to tinker with your trucks until you find a setup that works perfectly for you and your riding style.
I recently put together a comprehensive write-up on how to tighten skateboard trucks here.
Final Thoughts on How to Clean Your Skateboard
A clean and well-lubricated skateboard is a joy to ride and turns really well. To keep your trucks in great condition and increase their longevity, make sure to clean them once in a while.
First, disassemble your trucks and use paper towels and some WD40 to clean off greasy dirt and stubborn stains.
And if your skateboard trucks make too much noise during what should be smooth, quiet rides, wax them up at all the right places.
Finally, reassemble your trucks, putting every component back in its right place.
Then, attach the wheels back on, gear up, and hit the road. Or pavement. Or sidewalks. Or your local skatepark. Or wherever it is that you skate…and have fun.