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How To Clean Skateboard Wheels

how to clean skateboard wheels

Cleaning your skateboard wheels is an easy task that makes them last longer and helps your board ride more smoothly. The best part? You can complete this task at home with a few items you likely already have on hand. This guide breaks down how – and when – to clean your wheels to keep them in good condition.

When To Clean Wheels

If your ride feels uneven or disjointed, it’s time to clean your wheels. Sticky wheels, wobbly wheels, or wheels that feel lumpy as you roll are all signs that you need to whip out the cleaning supplies. It’s important to note that continuing to ride your board with dirty wheels can rapidly ruin the wheels and their bearings. You can also experience slowness or a halt of motion altogether.

Supplies You’ll Need

The supplies you need to clean your skateboard wheels are very common, and you’ll either have them on hand or be able to find them easily at any local grocery or hardware store.

how to care for skateboard wheels

  • Dish soap
  • Wire brush, sponge, or steel wool
  • Sink or bucket
  • Towel or paper towel
  • Microfiber cloth
  • A sunny day or blow dryer
  • Dirty skateboard wheels

Cleaning Directions

Set aside half an hour or more before you dive into these directions on how to clean your wheels. While the cleaning itself is a simple process, the time it takes to treat your wheels varies depending on how dirty the wheels are.

Step 1: Prepare your materials

Gather everything you need to clean your wheels and prepare a surface where the wheels can dry. Put about a tablespoon of dish soap into your sink or bucket and fill it with hot water.

Step 2: Remove Wheels from Skateboard

Remove the wheels from your skateboard with a standard skate tool or an adjustable wrench. Don’t put your wheels directly into the soapy water – instead, set them aside and remove the bearings first. Be sure to keep track of the washers and nuts that sit on the outside of the wheel in a small dish or bowl.

Step 3: Remove Bearings From Skate Wheel

Removing the bearings from the skate wheels before submerging them in water is important. Bearings can quickly rust when wet, so you need to remove them from the wheel before you continue. Remove them with a skate tool that has a bearing removal attachment or by leveraging the inside of the bearing against the truck of your skateboard and wiggling them loose.

For more detailed steps on how to remove wheels and bearings, check out our “How To Change Skateboard Wheels” article.

Once removed, put the bearings aside and away from water. Now you can safely clean your bearings by polishing them on all sides with a dry microfiber cloth. You can also use isopropyl alcohol to clean your bearings but avoid regular water.

Step 4: Clean Your Skateboard Wheels

  1. Put your wheels into the hot, soapy water. Let them sit for at least five minutes before continuing. If your wheels are extra dirty or covered in an oily substance, they’ll need to soak longer to loosen the dirt or gunk. You can also swap out your soap mixture for a fresh bowl if your wheels are super dirty.
  2. After soaking, remove the wheels from the water and place them on a towel or paper towel.
  3. Use your coarse sponge or wire brush to scrub the outside of the wheels. This should effectively remove any gummy or sticky substances.
  4. If any dirt remains, repeat the soaking and scrubbing process until your wheels are clean.

Step 5: Dry Your Skateboard Wheels

The last step after you’ve scrubbed your wheels is to dry them. Wipe them down thoroughly with an absorbent towel until they’re dry to the touch. Skateboard wheels are naturally porous, so they’ll absorb water while they’re soaking. If you’ve cleaned your wheels on a sunny day, set them out in the sun to dry for the rest of the day. If you’re sitting under an overcast sky, you can use a hair dryer on the low setting to expedite the drying process.


how to dry skate wheels

How To Clean Longboard Wheels

Clean your longboard wheels using the same method you’d use for skateboard wheels. Dish soap and little elbow grease are safe for both longboard and skateboard wheels.

How To Clean Skateboard Wheels Without Removing Them

Maybe you’re in the middle of a skate session or don’t have time for a full clean, so if you need to clean your skateboard wheels without removing them, there are a few tactics you can try.

Find an abrasive surface like rough concrete or brick and run your skateboard along the surface in an ‘X’ motion. This movement helps scrape debris, gunk, or gum off the bottom of your wheels. You can also ride down a fast hill to try and knock some of the dirt loose. However, following the steps above is the best and most reliable way to clean your wheels.

how to clean skate wheels

Skateboard Wheel Maintenance

Skateboard wheels don’t last forever, and wheel replacement is expected if you’re a frequent skateboarder. That said, there are a few tricks you can do to prolong their lifespan.

Wheel Rotation

Wheel rotation realigns the layout of your wheels to help them wear evenly. For instance, if you tend to favor sliding on one side when you ride, the wheels on that side will wear much faster than the wheels on the opposite side. You can help slow this wear by swapping the wheels every few weeks. An easy pattern is to switch your wheels in an ‘X’, moving the top left wheel to the bottom right, and the top right wheel to the bottom left.

What Are Flat Spots?

Skateboard wheel flat spots happen when wheels endure a lot of abrasion from general wear and tear and perpendicular movement, like during powerslides or bluntsides. The abrasion creates a flat spot on the wheel edge so it’s no longer round.

Wondering how to fix flat spots on skateboard wheels? Skateboard wheels that are harder (higher durometer) can sometimes be formed back to a round shape using a hand-held belt sander, but this method is done at your own discretion, and most skaters opt for new wheels.

Avoid Rough Terrain

The type of terrain you ride on has a major impact on the longevity of your skateboard wheels. The rockier the ground is, the bigger hit your wheels will take. Like sandpaper, rough roads eat away at the surface of your wheels and can run them flat pretty quickly.

When To Get New Wheels

skateboarding wheel cleaning

Cleaning is a great way to reset the feel of your wheels, but at some point, they’ll need replacing. Severe flat spots are one of the main indicators that it’s time to swap out your wheels for a fresh set.

Some spots can be reshaped, but generally, it’s not worth the effort. Similarly, irregularities in your wheel can make for an unpleasant ride, and it’s best to replace those wheels. These irregularities could be from uneven wear or from riding over rough surfaces.

Cleaning your longboard or skateboard wheels is a simple but effective task. You can increase the lifespan of your wheels and refresh the feeling of your ride in just a few hours. The most important thing is to keep your bearings away from water and to ensure your wheels are thoroughly dry before you ride on them again.


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