How to Clean Inline Skate Bearings
About once every two or three months, your skate bearings will need to be cleaned. You don't need a lot of mechanical know-how to do the job. With a little patience and the right tools, it's easy to do.
To clean your bearings, you'll need:
- A hard surface to work on
- A prying tool to remove the bearing shields
- An inline wheel tool to remove the bearings
- Dedicated bearing cleaner and lubricant
- A non-absorbent cloth or paper towel for drying
There are four simple steps in the cleaning process:
- Preparation – Gather your tools and use a hard, non-absorbent surface.
- Disassembly – Be sure to not throw away any shields.
- Cleaning – Use only a dedicated cleaner, preferably one that's citrus-based. WD40 and other all-purpose cleaners and lubricants are not recommended.
- Reassembly and installation – Don't forget to re-lubricate the bearings before reassembling them.
Removing Your Inline Wheel Bearings
The first thing to do is remove your wheels from their axles. You can do this with an Allen wrench or inline wheel tool.
Bearings are removed in one of two ways, depending on the type of spacer in your wheels. A tool like the Sonic Gripz, Pro, or Orange inline wheel tool is perfect
for the job and is designed with both bearing push and bearing pull ends.
To push the bearing from the wheel, insert the push end of your tool into the bearing and apply pressure. You should hear the bearing snap or pop as it releases from the wheel.
If you have short, floating bearings, use the pull end by hooking it into the bearing and pulling the bearing out of the wheel.
Disassembling Your Skate Bearings
Once the bearings are out of the skate, the next step is to remove the bearing shields. There are only two kinds of shields: a rubber shield, or a metallic shield with c-ring.
Rubber shields are used on most high-end bearings. To remove a rubber shield, pry it from the bearing with a thumbtack, a brad, or the end of a paper clip.
The other type is a metallic shield with a c-ring—a small piece of aluminum that sits beneath the inside lip of the bearing and holds the shield down. With your prying tool, gently lift only the c-ring from the bearing. Then, tap the bearing
edge on the table and the shield should fall out.
Cleaning Your Inline Skate Bearings
Once your shields are removed, you can clean your bearings.
Place your bearings in a container—this can be anything from a small glass jar to an old pill bottle with a cap or a lidded container made just for this purpose.
Immerse your bearings in the cleaning solution. We recommend using a dedicated bearing cleaner like Sonic Turbo Bearing Wash, and not an all-purpose product like WD40 or alternatives
like rubbing alcohol or acetone. These solutions will dry out your bearings and encourage them to attract dust and dirt. Dedicated cleaners are specifically formulated for this purpose. You can purchase just the cleaner, or something like the
Turbo Bearing Wash that includes both the wash and a container.
Shake the container to make sure the solution is distributed through all parts of the bearings. Then let them sit in the cleaner for 30 minutes or the recommended time. The solution must have all the time it needs to break down the dirt and grime.
After 30 minutes, remove the bearings from the case and lay them on a paper towel or some other non-absorbent cloth to dry. To speed the process, you can dry each bearing by hand, but be careful to not leave any lint or material from the cloth on
the bearings. An air compressor will dry them even more quickly. You can also blow on them.
Note: it won't hurt to clean your bearings again following the first 30-minute cleaning. The second cleaning can be much shorter—5 to 10 minutes. Shake the container like you did the first time and observe whether your solution
is clear. If it is, you know your bearings are in great, clean shape.
Re-Lubricating and Reassembling Your Inline Skate Bearings
Once the bearings have dried, you'll need to re-lubricate them. Again, use a dedicated bearing oil, and not an all-purpose lubricant.
To re-lubricate, add two drops of lubricant to each section of the bearings and spin them between your fingers to make sure the oil is distributed through them. Then replace the shields. Once the clean, lubricated bearings are reassembled, you can
put them back into the wheel.
Put one bearing into one side of the wheel and insert the spacer into the opposite side of the wheel. Place the second bearing on top of the spacer and squeeze the entire assembly together.
How Often Should I Clean My Skate Bearings?
With regular use under normal conditions, you should need to clean your bearings only once every two or three months. If you skate only indoors and the surface is dusty, you may need to clean them a little more frequently—maybe once a month.
Note: consider rotating your wheels every time you have them off your chassis. Even if the wheels show little wear, it won't hurt to rotate them to even out any wear they do have.
Are you new to inline hockey or working on your child's skates for the first time? Pure Hockey carries all the skate accessories you'll need to complete the job—including wheels, bearings, and tools. And our Low-Price Guarantee promises the
most competitive prices available.