an image of yellow skates. one of the boots has had its wheels and bearings removed are are pictured to the left. a skate blue, tri skate tool is to the right of the boots

How to Clean Roller Skate Bearings

Cleaning your bearings is a part of skate maintenance that can be pushed away if you’re not an avid skater. However, if you feel your wheels are slowing down or just plain look gross (hair gets stuck 🤮 amongst the gunk), it might be time to clean [& check !] your bearings.

Items You’ll Need:

  • a sharp, thin edge with which to lift the bearings’ shields. some skaters use a knife, guitar pick, measuring tape, idk whatever works that is thin and safe for you to wedge into the bearings
  • a bottle to shake the bearings and cleaning agent with
  • acetone (if using nail polish remover it MUST be pure acetone) OR something that’s marketed as a “bearing cleaner”
  • lubricant
  • Optional: A bearing puller and dish soap.

How to Clean Your Bearings

a colorful star holding translucent shapes has the number one inside Step one is to remove the wheels from the skate.

Use a skate tool or wrench. Really anything that can unscrew the bolts holding all eight of your wheels into the plate that won’t strip them. I usually use my Y tool but recently misplaced it so I’ve been using a standard regular skate tool as it has the two bolt fittings I need for my Moxi Beach Bunnies.

a pair of yellow roller skates with four wheels popped off one boot appear in the center of a concrete pad surrounded by a blue skate tool and loose bearings

a colorful star holding translucent shapes has the number two insideStep two is to remove the bearings from the wheels.

I usually use a little white specialty tool known as a bearing puller. Roller skates along with skateboard wheels hold two bearings per wheel, one on each side for a total of eight bearings needed per four wheels.

A Y3 skate tool with two

On this occasion I did not have it on me so I made do with leverage against my own skate boot. They were able to pop off easily however I can’t speak for long-term damage. I would recommend using a cleaner method as on some bearings I could see the difference in the metal from where I leveraged against the threading of the also metal wheel stems.

a colorful star holding translucent shapes has the number three insideStep three is taking the time to remove the shields.

I found using a boxcutter as my sharp, thin edge to lift up the bearings’ guards works best. An undone paperclip proved too thick early on.

Some people choose to only use one set of bearing shields. I am not one of those people, however, apparently it’s a thing ! At this point if you are or choose to be, you can ditch half the shields.

a colorful star holding translucent shapes has the number four insideStep four: Submerge in bottle with acetone.

Give ’em a good shake. You don’t need to invest in a brand-specific made-for-cleaning-skate-bearings product. Reusing a plastic bottle is a classic skater move. Here’s a tutorial on that using some shoestring.

Optional! Wash your wheels:

Dish soap and water in the sink, tub, bucket, patio, I honestly just used my partner’s kitchen sink and use this time around.

a colorful star holding translucent shapes has the number five insideStep five: Let dry and reassemble.

After letting your clean bearings air dry, you’ll want to re-lubricate them. If using a popular name-brand lube, one drop should do it before placing the second shield back on the bearing.

Thank you for reading Catsup Magazine!

This post is a part of an unpublished skate guide from 2022. Good ideas take time and there is never an excess of knowledge. Happy and safe skating!!

a screenshot of a WordPress post shows the article was last updated in June of 2022.

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