When spending hundreds of dollars on skates and skating equipment, skate maintenance is a big factor in making it all last. No matter what you do with your skates (recreational at a rink, outside in the fresh air, or Roller Derby), spending an hour every other month cleaning your equipment will make your items last so much longer than if you don't. Maintaining your skating equipment is generally easy to do, especially with travel size products such as bearing and wheel cleaner.
To clean your wheels, most people take a bowl of warm water, add some dish soap and take a brush of some sort (tooth brushes work well) and just scrub their wheels to get debris, glue, tape, etc. off of the wheels. Doing this will give you some grip back in your wheels so that you can continue to grip the slippery surfaces out there. This is also a great time to rotate your wheels so that you can get a bit more life out of them.
Cleaning your bearings used to be a little bit of a hassle, especially if you did not have the right supplies. Today, we find ourselves blessed that companies have remedied this issue. Some companies now sell a bottle that has a rod in it so that you can place the bearings inside vertically after you've disassembled them. You then place the cleaning solution inside the bottle and close it. If you want to let the bearings sit in the solution for a few minutes to soften up the gunk that may be on the ball bearings, feel free. Shake the bottle well after several minutes and remove the bearings onto a lint-free cloth to dry. After the solution evaporates, apply some bearing oil to the ball bearings and then spin the bearing so that the oil can spread evenly throughout the bearing before reassembling the bearings. Need everything to clean your bearings? Grab our awesome Devaskation Bearing Maintenance Package for an amazing price. Check out our How to Clean Roller Skate Bearings Article for even more detailed information on cleaning your bearings!
When cleaning your skates it is good to check and see if your pivot cups need to be replaced. Manufacturers have done good with this and have made them so that they should not need to be replaced as often as they used to. As with the pivot cups, your cushions can wear down over time. These do not always have to be replaced but it is good to check because a worn-down cushion can cause a lot more damage than one might think, including broken trucks or a broken kingpin. When checking these things, make sure you hold the bottom of the kingpin as you loosen your trucks so that they don't accidentally get unthreaded from the plate.
As far as boots go, if you want them to stay looking fresh, a leather shoe conditioner is an easy way to keep them looking good. We like to put them in the car for a half hour to get them nice and warm before applying the leather conditioner. Keeping them from wearing down during use is difficult but if you buy things like toe protectors they will last longer compared to without. Since you've already taken your skate apart, this is a great time to pull out the insole and make sure that your plate is still firmly attached to your boot and tighten them up if neccessary. You should also be checking your toe stops often to make sure they're tight. If your toe stops are secured using a tention nut and lock washer, a small amount of Loc-Tite can help keep them from loosening up.
This can all be done in an hour or less. Generally the scrubbing of the wheels is the most time-intensive part, but it will make your skate setup last much longer than normal, ensuring that you get your money's worth from your skates.