Introduction: Clean and Grease Your Skateboard Bearings

Picture of Clean and Grease Your Skateboard Bearings

It's winter out there. The streets are covered with water, salt, and funky road grit. But you really want to skate. What can you do? Answer: go skate anyway, then clean your bearings so they'll live to skate another day.

This is a straightforward demo of how to disassemble, clean, grease, and re-assemble a skateboard bearing. Just in case you wanted to see it done. It's actually terribly easy if you've done it once.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Dirty skateboard bearings. (Can be obtained from within dirty skateboard wheels.)
Acetone or other solvent. (97% Isopropyl Alcohol is good too.)
A bowl or cup to put it in.
A small pin or straightened staple to remove the bearing shields.

Step 2: Pop the Seals

Picture of Pop the Seals
There are two kinds of seals that are common on skateboard bearings: rubber seals (pictured) and metal shields.

The seals can be popped out from the other side with a small pin or straightened-out staple. Stick your pin between the ball cage and the outside bearing race and press the seal out. Aim for the center of the seal, because it is made of metal and you won't puncture it.

If you've got metal shields, they're held in place by a circlip around the outside edge. Get your pin under one edge of the circlip and it'll come off easily. Then the metal shield just pops out. See this website for pictures of how to get the clips off.

Step 3: Soak and Clean

Picture of Soak and Clean
Fill up your bowl with 1/2" of acetone and put the bearings (balls down) in the solution and let them sit for a minute.

Alternately tap them on the bottom of the bowl and spin the bearings in your hand until they feel grit-free. Once you get a bearing cleaned, spin it dry and place it on a clean paper towel (balls down) to dry.

Repeat for the other 7 bearings.

While the bearings are finishing drying off, clean up the seals in the acetone. Be gentle -- you don't want to bend the inner metal ring.

Step 4: Optional: Filter and Save Your Acetone

Picture of Optional: Filter and Save Your Acetone

If you're cheap (or thrifty) you can filter the big grit out of the acetone and save it to use again.

If your coffee filters are like mine, it won't be perfect. But it'll be good enough to re-use a few times, or you can experiment with multiple filters. Store your used acetone in a well-marked (skull and crossbones are good) airtight jar wherever you keep your deadly chemicals.

Step 5: Grease and Re-seal

Picture of Grease and Re-seal

Add grease to the little pockets in-between the balls. Most people use just enough to barely fill three pockets. More or less (by a little) is ok. You don't want them packed, but you want all the balls lubricated.

Bike grease is fine. Marine grease will work. Silicone or lithium grease? Sure. Molybdenum grease? Overkill, but if you've got some lying around the house, you can use it.

Spread the grease around with your finger and roll the bearing back and forth until you can see all the balls adequately covered.

Gently place the seal back on. It will "snap" into place. Then, since you completely un-lubed it, run your greasy finger around the outside of the rubber seal just enough to keep it moistened. Also get some grease on the metal surfaces to help keep the rust away.

Note at this stage you could be using an oil instead of a grease. Good oils are Bones Speed Cream, Tri-flow, and other similar lubricating oils. Motor oil will work too. Bad oils include WD-40 and 3-in-1 (too light). If you use oil, 2 drops are usually enough. Spread it around by spinning the bearing and re-assemble.

Step 6: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Congratulations. You've just cleaned and re-greased your skateboard bearings.

Grease is nice because it needs maintenance less often than oil. On the other hand, it probably spins a little slower. Still, a clean and lubed bearing spins much much better than a dirty one, so it's good for you in the long run.

Note that you can switch back to oil when it finally stops raining and all the darn salt is off the freaking roads....

How often should you do this? It depends on how much you ride, and how often in crappy conditions. For greased bearings, try once every month at first or more often if you're in the wet a lot.

Oiled bearings need maintenance every couple weeks if you ride every day. I tend to clean them out right after a rain ride -- the oil just doesn't provide as much rust protection.


Ora (author)2008-06-03

Does this remove large amounts of rust? If not, is there any way to do so?

The Real Elliot (author)Ora2008-06-03

Not really. If you've got rust, it's time for new bearings -- the balls aren't ever going to be smooth again.

Ora (author)The Real Elliot2008-06-03

My bones swiss...

hawksP (author)Ora2017-09-25

swiss is ceramic so the balls dont rust. atleat i dont think...

The Real Elliot (author)Ora2008-06-04

Ouch. If you just want to ride them, you can probably brush some of the rust off with a green scrubby pad and a light oil. (Don't use one that you're ever going to do dishes with again.) To clean the balls, you're going to need to completely disassemble the bearing -- pull out the ball cage, push all the balls over to one side, and twist the inner race. Watch out for the balls going everywhere when you twist. Reverse the procedure to re-build. They'll never be new again, but they'll probably roll. OTOH, clean cheap bearings (VXB, Pleasure Tools) are much faster than dirty, abused Bones. Might be better to bite the bullet and get a new set or two of cheapos.

LucasS3 (author)Ora2015-11-28

I did it once with a electrolysis machine but still needs lube so I will tell you how good it works after.

A GamingG (author)2017-05-16

use vinegar and keep ur bearings in for a bit then put them proxide for a bit then pop ur bearings back in and your done

VijayG31 (author)2016-08-24

Soak the bearing in petrol for 5 to 10 min, that cleans the bearing. Then soak it in transmission fluid for 30+ min. Wipe excess fluid and install the bearing back. Repeat one in 3 months. That's what I do.

DanielA79 (author)VijayG312017-03-20

That's using the old noodle!

AlanL44 (author)2016-02-29

Wow, who has time for all that?!

Just spray some WD-40 in there there once a month and get on the road.

I'm know Abec 7 bearings are servicable, but they're 15 bucks a set on Amazon.

How much is your time worth?! o_0

PaulS493 (author)AlanL442016-10-06

I know we all want the quick fix, but wd-40 isn't going to work. Or, it will to start with.

The 'wd' in wd-40 means 'water desiccant/displacement' - and it will lube to start, but by drying out the area, and being a light oil, it sucks in dirt, then keeps it there.

Wd-40 SILICONE is acceptable.

RobH131 (author)AlanL442016-08-28

If you buy those same bearing on they are 5 bucks cheaper

smellymeadowh (author)AlanL442016-08-14

Yes but doing it right will make em last longer than a week they will be good for a month or two my as well be done right or not done at all

smellymeadowh (author)AlanL442016-08-14

wd40 ruins ur bearings I was told it gets more dirt and stuff I. The bearin

AlanL44 (author)smellymeadowh2016-08-14

You're right, WD-40 does have a tendency to gunk up over time. But that can be negated by just spritzing it once a week to wash off buildup. Way more time efficient than ripping your bearings apart and servicing them like this article says. WD-40 is also way cheaper, and jeez, every minute ur servicing ur gear is another minute you're not riding.

BeauxH (author)AlanL442016-06-07

that just puts more gunk in your bearnings

JamieH126 (author)2016-09-21

Does window cleaner work

N1020 (author)2015-12-07

Would mineral spirits be another option as a solvent/cleaner?

BeauxH (author)N10202016-06-07

citrus works best

PikZaz (author)BeauxH2016-07-15

Does it work with pure lemon/lime juice? Might ba a dumb question but just want to know :p

The Real Elliot (author)N10202016-06-08

Really, any degreaser is fine. You can even use dishsoap and water, but then you have to wait for quite a while for it to dry back out.

Acetone is great for this b/c it's a super degreaser and it evaporates very quickly. You should be able to get it at any hardware store.

JonathanS157 (author)2016-04-07

although I use carburetor cleaner not wd49

BeauxH (author)JonathanS1572016-06-07

USE CITRUS! but seriously it works, use any citrus based cleaner

Jamin PaulS (author)2016-05-01

is Organic all purpose cleaner ok instead of acetone?
organic all purpose cleaner has
plant nased surfactant,citrus extract,water

and i use to lubricate my bearings is sewing machine oil

BeauxH (author)Jamin PaulS2016-06-07

yes any citrus based cleaner works

ZackR16 (author)2016-05-24

I have a board I've had for awhile and kinda forgot it outside under my porch during the winter. It just started seizing up and I don't have any oil or acetone to use on it any other stuff I could use that work like stuff that's around the common household?

BeauxH (author)ZackR162016-06-07

any citrus based cleaner works

JonathanS157 (author)2016-04-07

although I use carburetor cleaner not wd49

JonathanS157 (author)2016-04-07

I'm with AlanL44 that's what I do and my bearings are fast/long lasting

WeinanQ (author)2016-01-19

Passenger transport today moves significantly faster than ever before, often operating on separate tracks especially designed for high-speed trains. Accordingly, high-speed rolling bearings are very important components in the bogies of trains today. Maximum train speeds currently reach 380 km/h (236 mph) in the latest high-speed applications—80% higher than in the earlier days of high-speed traffic. This paper presents two application examples of modern, high-speed traffic, together with some typical bearing arrangements and housings. It provides insight regarding measures taken in the bearing industry to meet the requirements of contemporary, high-speed traffic, and it cites important standards and regulations applicable for—but not restricted to—European applications. To be precise, the focus here is on journal bearings;information on traction motor bearings, transmission bearings and housings is included, but described in less detail.


adam.ozcelik (author)2015-04-27

are the ripstik bearing supposed to be oily/greasy? i opened up my ripstik for the first time dont know if i should clean it or not

odie.m.keller (author)2015-03-30

Is the speed stuff I get at the skate shop (the "2 drop application" stuff) adequate for lubing the bearings, or do I need a legitimate grease for the bearings?

Alex_004 (author)2015-01-28

Don't every use acetone it is very bad for your bearing try to stay away from anything with achohol try to use a cirtris cleaner like pin-sol or something.Even though acetone my get it oily and clean looking it will start to rust down a little bit at a time and it is bad for you to inhale.

odie.m.keller (author)Alex_0042015-03-30

Citrus based solutions leave behind a residue, whereas alcohol will evaporate. It is a bit safer to use isophrill alcohol much rather than citrus cleaner.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-03

Thanks! I might try this out, my bearings are getting all weird. My friend used to put WD-40 on his. It works, but you will have to do it over and over again. This is way easier, awesome Instructable. +1 rating.

sploge (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-09

never put wd 40 on bearings its a degreser and a rust remover and it disolves all that gunk which then get stuck and seizes

speedyspy2 (author)sploge2009-05-19

He's right

DG6 (author)speedyspy22015-02-08

Well...never lube/grease a dirty bearing
period. Always clean first so there's no grit, grime, dirt or
burnt/thick grease. Then lube away(including WD) that way the
part(whether it's a bearing, hinge, window track, chain, etc.) gets
evenly coated with the lube or grease.

And of course the more
viscosity or better properties it has(i.e, titanium, silicone or other
new technologies they have nowadays) the longer it will last and/or more
slippery it will be which in turn makes it move faster/easier while
keeping friction/heat low as possible.

I clean and silicone lube(WD40)
the bearings every few months on my wheelchair wheels and they spin
smooth and long. Same bearings that came with the chair 5 years now.

sharlston (author)GorillazMiko2009-12-06

what you mean by all weird?

Castiau (author)2014-07-06

Could I use surface cleaner instead of acetone?

The Real Elliot (author)Castiau2014-07-09

You can really use anything that dissolves grease. Dishwashing detergent? Brake cleaner? Go nuts.

ivenediktov (author)2013-12-09

Unlike acetone it is oily so it is good for bearings

ivenediktov (author)2013-12-09

Use kerosene works better and not so harmful for your hands, you can get a liter in Home Depot for 10$

zreed1 (author)2011-04-15

Yea, I agree...... i tried wearing some gloves that i had just lying around, and it tore right through them. it kinda made my finger numb. so i MOST DEFINITELY SUGGEST WEARING GOOD GLOVES!!!!!!

rhall-1 (author)2011-03-14

It's probably a good idea to be wearing natural rubber or neoprene gloves (or something else that acetone won't eat through -- vinyl, latex and nitrile are no match). It's not particularly awesome to be using bare hands in that stuff, just sayin'.

sharlston (author)2011-01-03

Skateboardigs awesome,nice ible,have you seen element search and win? sign up now and ya can get decks clothing and bearings sign up now

paperclip32 (author)2010-08-07

You can add that silicone lubricant works well too.Spray a light layer,and you'll have lubed bearings.

sharlston (author)paperclip322010-10-21

i like silicone but i struggle removing the stuff

paperclip32 (author)sharlston2010-10-23

What type are you using?You need some spray silicone lubricant.

sharlston (author)paperclip322010-10-23

its rocol spray aersol type

About This Instructable




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