If you enjoy roller skating, and you own a pair of roller skates, then at some point you will need to know how to clean roller skate bearings.
Firstly, you need to understand that most bearings on the market are made from the same materials, so many of them would be cleaned in the same way with minor variation.
The reason for cleaning roller skate bearings is quite simple. Roller skate bearings and even skateboard bearings that are regularly cleaned, last longer.
So if you would like to preserve the life of your roller skates then cleaning and lubricating them at regular intervals is the way to go.
Some skaters like to clean their bearings after each use, but this depends entirely on where you have used your skates.
If you skate indoors then this may be entirely unnecessary, but if you are skating outside on roller skate trails, then you may need to consider this practice.
One thing is for certain, cleaning the bearings regularly gives you a better ride whether you are a beginner or a professional.
The Decision To Replace Or Clean Your Bearings
This is a decision that you may need to consider if you have gone a long while without cleaning your bearings.
If your bearings have been left neglected for quite a while, then cleaning them may be a fool’s errand.
The only way to know for sure is to open them up and have a look. Also remember that unclean bearings give a less smooth ride.
Whether you decide to replace or clean them, you need to remember that cleaning the old or new bearings is a continual process.
You are the best judge based on where you have used your roller skates and how often you use them.
Once you understand what you are doing, and you have a clear system of how to clean your bearings then the task is not difficult at all.
There are a few methods out there for doing this, and we will share ours with you.
Things You Will Need To Clean Your Bearings:
- A tool that can pry open the bearing shields or a bearing remover tool
- A roller skate wheel tool that fits
- A roller skate bearing cleaner
- A roller skate bearing lubricant
- A flat hard surface to work on
- Paper towel or cloth for drying
- You will also need a road map of where you are going and a plan of action. To properly clean your roller skates, you will need to Disassemble, Clean, Lubricate and Reassemble all the components, so it is better to gather all your tools beforehand.
The Steps For Cleaning Your Skate Bearings
1 ) The First Step
The first step is to remove the bearings from the wheels, but this requires the right tools because if you use something like a chisel or a hammer you may destroy your bearings.
You do not want to damage the race or the shield on your bearings because after you clean them they most likely will not move properly.
Get your hands on a good bearing remover tool. There should be a button at the top of the tool that you need to press.
Then you need to line this tool up with the center of the bearing, if you can’t find it then look for a small hole which will fit onto your skate axle. It may be filled with debris depending on where you have skated, so look for it carefully.
When you release the button at the top of the tool you should be able to easily pull the bearing right out of the wheel. Note that bearings with aluminum hub wheels do not work like this.
Some people prefer to remove the skate wheels from their axles with an Allen wrench or wheel tool. Then they remove the bearings from the skate wheels.
Generally we remove bearings by either pulling or pushing them out. Some wheel tools are quite handy, because you can find both push and pull bearing ends on one tool.
To separate the bearing and the wheel you will need to use the push end of the tool and insert it into the bearing with highlight pressure.
The bearing will come apart from the wheel with a pop or snap. Some people have short and floating bearings, so they will need to insert the wheel tool into the bearing. Then you should pull the bearing out of the wheel.
Be careful not to destroy the wheel hub. Carefully take out the outer race from the bearings if you want to avoid damage.
2 ) The Second Step
Next you need to disassemble the skate bearings. You can start by removing the bearing shields. There are usually two types of shields which are metallic shields that have a C-ring and rubber shield.
The metallic shields that come with C-rings are usually a small aluminum part sitting under the inside lip holding down the shield for the bearing.
Use your prying tool to lift the C-ring carefully from the bearing. Then simply tap the edge of the bearing on your table edge, so the shield can fall out.
You will find rubber shields on the more expensive bearings and removing them is a bit easier. Simply remove it from the bearing using a Brad, thumbtack or paperclip end.
3 ) The Third Step
The next step is to submerge the bearing parts in a plastic or glass container with roller skate bearing cleaner. It would be better if the container has a cover.
There are a number of good roller skate bearing cleaners available on the market, so you simply need to select one that suits you.
You should fill the container with the just enough bearing cleaner so that all the bearing parts are completely submerged. It may be wise to let the bearings sit in the chemical overnight for the best results.
In this way all the grime and the dirt on the bearings will have time to break down. That said, you should follow the directions of the cleaner you have selected and adjust accordingly.
4 ) The Fourth Step
After you have waited the correct amount of time you can begin to shake the container with the bearing parts inside so that all the dirt is removed.
Then you can empty the used chemicals out of the jug, making sure that none of the parts escape.
If you want to be extra thorough then you can repeat this process with new bearing cleaner to make sure the all the parts are completely clean.
Many people do this for as many times as it takes for the bearing cleaner to be mostly clear after the bearings have been submerged for a while. This is how you know that your bearings are completely clean.
5 ) The Fifth Step
Once you are satisfied, you can remove the solution from the bearings for the final time and then place the bearing parts onto a cloth or towel to thoroughly dry them off.
Some people blow on the bearings making sure that all the parts are cleaned completely.
6 ) The Sixth Step
Add the lube. This step is very important because your bearings will not work without a proper lubricant.
Once you are certain that the bearing parts are totally dry you can reassemble the bearings and add a good lubricant. Allow the lubricant to sit inside of the bearings for about 10 minutes.
After this you need to hold each bearing in your hand and spin each one around to ensure that the lubricant is distributed evenly taking special care, so that all the balls inside of the bearings are coated properly.
7 ) The Seventh Step
The last step would be to reinstall your bearings on to the wheels and then place your wheels on to the axles.
While completing this step,be careful not to damage the race of your bearing when you reinstall them on the wheels.
How To Choose A Good Roller Skate Bearing Solution
Some people prefer to use rubbing alcohol with a 70% average for the bearings. But it is actually better if you can find alcohol with a 99% average.
However, these are not usually sold over the counter, but you can ask your pharmacist. Kerosene and paint thinner are also viable options, but they have the disadvantage of a strong smell, and they are very harsh on sensitive skin.
The next best option is to purchase a cleaner that is specifically designed for roller skate bearings which you can purchase at a skate shop or skating rink.
There are also a few environmentally products on the market, but you need to make sure that no residue or film is left behind on your bearings because they won’t roll smoothly.
The very worst thing you can do is wash your bearings with dish soap.
Things To Remember
Avoid using ordinary soap and water – As we have said before, dish soap should not be used to clean your roller skate bearings. It would be a terrible mistake to soak your bearings in soap and water because they would get rusty and no time.
If you have made this terrible mistake, then the best thing you can do is a dry your bearing as soon as possible.
Allow them to dry naturally however, because using any type of heat can shrink parts of the bearing which is not a good idea.
Don’t forget the sheilds/crowns – It may be a good idea to avoid using harsh solvents on the crown as they may degrade the material.
Nevertheless, you can still use a toothbrush and scrub it with soapy water. Make sure that you dry it properly so that none of the water gets inside of the bearings.
The best time to clean the crowns is when you are soaking the bearings an alcohol.
Dry the Bearings thoroughly – remember that alcohol-based solvents tend to evaporate quickly, but there are other types of solvent that do not.
Keep this in mind when you are drying the bearings because any hint of moisture can wreak havoc on your bearings because of rust.
Eventually you will find that your roller skates do not roll the same, and they may need to be replaced all together.
Rubbing alcohol with a 99% t average is a great option. Some people blow out the bearings over and over making sure that there is no trace of moisture remaining.
It’s all about the Lube – Without a doubt you need to add proper lubricant to your bearings if you want a smooth ride.
You can add your lubricants before putting on the shields, but some people prefer to add it afterward.
This all depends on the type of bearings that you have and the way your roller skating bearings are assembled.
Just a few drops of any oil-based lubricant should be sufficient on each bearing. Some people use skateboard lubricants, but it is not necessary.
Another option is to use 3 and 1 automotive oil as a lubricant. Still others prefer to use speed cream for hairdressing clippers which seems to work pretty well.
The main purpose of the lubricant is to reduce friction and heat giving a smooth uninhibited roller skate ride.
Remember to give the bearings a spin with your fingers – If you hear friction in the bearings then you know that you should add more lubricant.
You want to hear a smooth whir as the bearings move. If you hear any odd sounds coming from your bearings then you need to stop spinning immediately and investigate the problem.
You may need to disassemble your bearings as there may be a problem that can destroy certain parts. Once you are sure that the problem is resolved then you can add the lubricants and try again.
Having a clean roller skate that is properly lubricated is perhaps the single most important things that you can do to preserve its life.
Prevention Is Better Than Cleaning
If you are any type of skater then you know that you should avoid sand, water and humid conditions in general wild skating.
Moist environments are a breeding ground for rust which impede the performance of your bearings.
You will typically notice it in the smoothness of the role as well as the speed.
That said, it maybe virtually impossible to avoid all moist conditions around your roller skates because many people prefer to skate outdoors especially in the summer. This means that dirt and other debris could enter your bearings.
Make sure that you clean your bearings every few months based on how much and where you have used your roller skates.
If this is not done, then you run the risk of subpar performance when you use your roller skates the next time. It is totally worth it to invest the time it takes to clean your roller skates properly.