Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Skate Bearings

How do I clean my roller skate or skateboard bearings? That’s a question we get a lot! Before we start, keep in mind that most bearings are generally made of the same materials (and in the same factory). So, your roller skate bearings will fit on your skateboard and in your inline skates. In order to preserve the life of your roller skate bearings or Skateboard Bearings, it is recommended that the bearings are regularly cleaned and lubricated. Many skaters agree that this should be done after each use in order to maximize the lifespan, durability, and speed of the bearings, but that is not true if you are skating mostly inside. Clean bearings allow for an easy, effortless roll for a skater of any type or level.

Most skaters and skate companies recommend avoiding sand, water, or humid conditions while skating. Moist conditions can rust or hinder the performance of a bearing, specifically in areas of speed, roll, and smoothness of a skate. However, for some skateboarders and outdoor skaters it is nearly impossible to avoid dirt and debris. In this case, you should clean and oil your bearings more frequently to prevent breakdown.

Should I Clean My Bearings or Just Replace Them?

Do you even need to clean those old, nasty bearings? Great question! If the bearings have been neglected it might not do much good to clean them. If the grime is just too much or if you’ve significantly improved your skating abilities, you might consider simply replacing the bearings altogether. Keep in mind you will still need bearing maintenance equipment to maintain your new bearings.

Skate Bearings Quicklinks

How to Clean Skate & Skateboard Bearings – Step by Step

Whether you’re new to skating or a seasoned skater, let this article be your reminder to check and clean your bearings regularly. Our founder, Skip Clinton, a three-time world champion artistic skater says, “Cleaning skate bearings is not a difficult task, but giving your skates a little love goes a long way toward a lifetime of great skating. I have been skating on the same bearings for over a decade and I don’t foresee new bearings any time soon. That being said, if you haven’t maintained your bearings you might want to start with a new set and a new attitude on keeping them maintained.” There are several methods of cleaning skate bearings, but we’ll share our favorite with you here.

  • 1. Remove the bearings from the wheels. Make sure you get the right tools to do this because using a hammer and chisel could easily ruin your bearings. Be careful not to damage the shield on the race or your bearings will not move properly after cleaning. Next, get ready to use your bearing remover tool. Press the button on the top and place the tool onto the center of the bearing (the hole that slips onto the axel of the skate, like a doughnut hole), release the button, and pull the bearing straight out of the wheel. This type of removal does not work for bearings that are in Aluminum Hub wheels. We recommend using the PowerDyne Bearing Press so as to not damage the wheel hub. You may remove the outer race of the bearings to avoid damage if you so choose.
  • 2. Place the bearings in a glass jar or plastic jug (a plastic milk jug will do). There are several brands of bearing cleaner, but a good brand is the Qube Bearing Spa and Bearing Cleaner. You will need to place enough bearing cleaner into the jug so all bearings are submerged in the chemical. Let the bearings sit overnight. This will allow all the dirt and grime inside the bearings to break down.
  • 3. Shake and swirl the container that your bearings are in to make sure you get all the dirt out. Drain all the dirty chemicals from the jug – replace with a new amount of chemical to cover the bearings as done previously. Let sit for several minutes and then shake again for another few minutes. Repeat this process several times until your solvent remains mostly clear. This will let you know that the bearings are well cleaned. (Side Note: If you’re on the go and forgot to clean up your undercarriage beforehand, keep a bottle of Bionic’s all-in-one cleaning system in your skate bag. It’s a self-contained unit that will get you through until you can do a more thorough cleaning at home.)
  • 4. Drain the solution off of the bearings one final time and place the bearings on a towel or cloth to wipe down and dry. A great extra step is to BLOW the bearings out with canned air or an air compressor if you have one – this really gets them completely cleaned. If no compressor is available, you can do this manually (try not to pass out).
  • 5. Once the bearings have completely dry, add a drop or two of some good bearing oil on the bearings and let them sit for a few minutes. Take the bearing in your fingers and spin each one to get the oil evenly distributed to each of the ball-bearings inside.
  • 6. Reinstall the bearings in your wheels and put your wheels on the axles. Be sure to take extra care to avoid damaging the race of the bearing when reinstalling into the wheels.

Remember, bearings only need to be cleaned about once every two to three months depending on the environment you are skating in. If you primarily skate inside several times a month but the surface is not cleaned often, you might have to shine up your bearings once a month. Your performance as a skater can be crippled if you neglect your gear. Take the time and do it right! Feel free to visit our Guide to Roller Skate Bearings page and vote for your favorite brand of bearings! We’ve also put together a video explaining how to clean your bearings. The video and the transcription of the video is below!

How to Clean Skate Bearings – Video

Video Transcript

Hey guys, it’s Dan from here. We’re doing a little video today on how to clean and properly maintenance your bearings. you get a lot better performance and a lot longer life out of them. You can breathe some new life into an old set of bearings by just taking them apart and doing a good cleaning on them then putting them back together. You’d be surprised by the results.

A couple of things that you’re gonna want is my favorite, there’s a couple different brands, but I like the Bones bearing cleaning system. It’s a self-contained bottle that’s got a post here to hold all of them with spacers to keep them separated so it really gets all that dirt out while you’re cleaning it. You also want some sort of a solvent. Here at the warehouse, we use Bionic bearing cleaner. Great, long-lasting, it’s a big bottle, with a really good price on that. So these should last you years and years, one bottle of it. So what we’ve got here, I’ve kind of put this all together.

There’s one thing I want to mention, there’s these shields on these bearings. Some people take them off, kind of pry them out. Some people are just going to clean them. Me personally, I don’t. It’s kind of hard to get the bearing shields back in and you risk warping the little bearing shields. There’s enough space in there to get them cleaned out. If you want to take your bearings shields off, feel free to do it. But, I tell you what here, we clean a lot of bearings and we never had any problems with not taking the shields off.

That’s just kind of a personal opinion. Today I’ve got these stacked up right here. So you’ll see that there’s these little spacers and you’re just going to slide these bearings down onto there. Put a spacer in between each bearing. Put another bearing on there. Then it’s got this nice little screw here. That screws down on top. Alright. Now we’ve got our bottle all filled here with our solvent. We’re just gonna put it into there, let them soak a little bit. You can soak, shake it up, Jesse here in the warehouse dances around to Meghan Trainor, cleans our bearings for us, whatever you like.

Just give them a good rinsing. You can always pull them out, visually inspect it and you’ll be able to see the dirt starts coming out a little bit in there. You’ll also notice your solvent has gotten dirty. So just kind of visually inspect, like I said depending on how dirty your bearings are, how long it has been since you’ve cleaned them, it may take a little bit more time. But, a pretty quick easy way to breathe some new life into it. Then when we get them out of there, what you’re gonna do is just dry them off. A paper towel works just fine.

Then just the tinniest bit of oil on each bearing, get it kind of down in there, underneath the bearing shield. Let it soak in for a few, then reinstall it. You’d be surprised, the kind of performance, the new roll that you’re gonna get by just taking those older bearings and cleaning them out. So, anyway guys if you have any other questions, feel free. You can always email us at [email protected] and have fun!

Recommended Bearing Maintenance Products

The products below are the necessary bearing tools and accessories to get the job done right.

You need all 4 of these tools (or some variation)

1. Devaskation 3-way Tool

You are going to need a tool to get the wheels off of your skates or skateboard. This 3-way tool will remove wheels from most skates or skateboards.

2. Bankroll Bearing Snatcher

This handy bearing snatcher pulls bearings in/out of wheels. It works on most modern bearings, but it is designed for 8mm. Most modern bearings are 8mm in size.

3. Rollerbones Bearing Cleaning Unit

The Rollerbones Bearing Cleaning Unit is a great way to keep your bearings clean. Just load up the bearings on the stem and soak them overnight. This product makes cleaning bearings less messy and easy.

4. Bionic Bearing Oil

Finally, you need to keep those bearings spinning smoothly! Add a bit of Bionic Oil to any bearing and you will feel the difference. The oil also mildly rejects water and helps with avoiding rust build-up.

Products that Extend the Life of Your Skate Bearings

Perhaps with the exception of higher-end bearings, most all skate bearings require a bit of maintenance to keep a skate in its best condition. To make any bearing last as long as possible and provide the smoothest roll, a skater should consider the following steps in order to maintain the bearings on their favorite skates. Devaskation offers only the best in these products at the lowest prices! Read on to learn more about the advantages of bearing maintenance.

To improve and extend the life of your skates and their performance, it is recommended that the skate bearings are coated with a lubricant. Skating professionals recommend using a low viscosity lubricant applied to bearings. This lubricant maximizes acceleration and speed of the skate, and also reduces friction. Bearing Oil should be applied to bearings after cleaning. You only need a small drop of high-quality bearing oil to keep your bearings in great condition for years! It is highly recommended to use oil on your bearings after every cleaning, but it is also important to keep an eye out for dry bearings. Skaters should apply lubricant once there are any signs of the bearings drying out.

Bionic Bearing Oil

Bionic Bearing OilThe Bionic Bearing Oil is specifically formulated to avoid break-in period while protecting and prolonging bearing life. This oil can be used for any brand bearings on the market to increase longevity. Perfect to throw in your skate bag for on the go maintenance!

Bones Speed Cream

Bones Speed CreamBones Speed Cream is extremely popular for skateboarders and has earned popularity through proven performance! Bones speed cream is great for any skater’s bearing and should be in your skate bag.

What Type of Bearings Should I Buy?

The type of bearings you buy depends on the type of skater you are. The answer to this question is far too long to go over here, but you can find many recommendations for quad skate, inline skate, and skateboard bearings in Devaskation’s Guide to Roller Skate Bearings.

Types of Bearings and Maintenance

Steel Bearing Maintenance

Steel is a durable, economical metal, and is used in the most common type of skate bearing. Skaters sometimes prefer different materials for bearings, due to the fact that steel bearings don’t handle friction between the skate’s wheel and axle well. In fact, steel often expands with heavy use and fast skating. This can cause the steel bearing to heat up and basically inflate a steel bearing – which will completely ruin the steel bearing. In order to maintain your steel bearings and make them last longer, it is important to clean, dry, and lubricate them after each use. Sometimes this depends on how fast or how long you are skating. Lighter skaters can get away with less maintenance, but the longest-lasting bearings are ones that are cared for often.

Ceramic Bearing Maintenance

Typically, ceramic bearings are ideal for skaters who want a low-maintenance bearing, as well as a skater who skates frequently. Ceramic bearings, compared to steel bearings, encounter less friction. Typically, ceramic skate bearings don’t need as much lubricant, and don’t react to heat such that they expand.

5 comments on “How To Clean Skate & Skateboard Bearings

Robert Hogward on December 24, 2020 -

Great article! Can I use household items to clean these sensitive parts of my skateboard?
Most people prefer this nail polish removing Acetone 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.

Carly Quick on December 24, 2020 -

Yep! Isopropyl alcohol, mineral spirits, and many other household items will clean bearings. Thanks for the question!

Robert Hogward on December 26, 2020

You are welcome. Thanks for useful article!

llfoley27 on August 13, 2023 -

Comments and questions; I’m so happy to find this website! I have an old pair of roller skates that have wooden wheels. Now that I’m getting back into skating, can I change these wooden wheels to polyurethane and how can I tell if the axle is 7mm or 8mm? Thank you

Carly Quick on August 13, 2023 -

You can def change the wheels, but if the skate has 7mm wheels and bearings you will need to clean/reuse your bearings or find some new 7mm bearings. As for wheels, there are many choices. E-mail us and let us know more some details about what kind of surfaces you’re skating on and we’ll give you some good recommendations!

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