Because of the exposure and abuse bearings undergo in skateboarding, they are often the first items needing replacement. When a bearing is not spinning, having trouble spinning, or looks and sounds like its corroded, it is best to replace it. All the cleaning and lubricating in the world will not renew a damaged bearing.
This is why cleaning with mineral spirits, gasoline, acetone, turpentine, butane, rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, kerosene, and bleach are not going to do the job. Most importantly screwing around with dangerous chemicals to clean bearings is unnecessary. If bearings are properly maintained, no one, not even a pro skater, needs to resort to harsh chemicals.
A safe and totally effective cleaner is citrus cleaner. Usually found in a spray bottle at most drug and hardware stores, citris cleaners are made from orange oils that is not a dangerous chemical.
Orange oil is an organic hydrocarbon compound called terpene, consisting of about 95% d-limonene. This hydrocarbon is used as an industrial solvent and works wonders on oils, dirt, and grime.
When searching for a citrus cleaner, look at MSDS documents on a brand's website to verify that it uses "citrus terpenes" or d-limonene as its main active solvent. Some label show that the cleaner contains "limonene". It is usually referring to d-limonene.
Using a bearing cleaning kit, a kid can clean his bearings safely and effectively with hardly any mess or danger. Also, the majority of citrus cleaners contain no harmful chemicals. In most cases, citrus cleaner is just water, surfactants (emulsifiers), and orange oil. Although, because d-limonene dissolves oils, it could possibly irritate the skin.
After cleaning bearings with citrus cleaner, the cleaner needs to be removed. The best method is to run the bearings under hot water. Say what? Yes, although this may seem to be against conventional wisdom, it will not hurt bearings in the slightest if the moisture is quickly removed with a hair dryer.
After blow-drying, the bearings will be clean and dry and make that adorable hissing sound. The next step is lubricanting. Reports circulate about all kinds of lubricants being used from cooking oil, hair clipper oil, to even trumpet valve oil. It's best to stick with thin oils that are strictly made for lubricating small moving parts, such as electronic or sewing machine oil.
For instructions on how to make your own bearings cleaning kit click here.
When to Clean or Lubricate
Cleaning with a kit directions
1. Remove bearings shields/seals first. Click here for instructions.
2. Wipe off dirt on the bearings and shields/ seals.
3. Assemble kit. For instruction on making a homemade bearing cleaning kit click here.
4. Fill the container about 1/3rd of the way with cleaner.
5. Insert bearings.
6. Shake the kit for a couple minutes.
7. Takes the bearings out (leave on the rod).
8. Tap the bearings on a hard surface to remove contaminants.
9. Repeat shaking for couple minutes (repeat steps 5,6,7 if needed).
10. Rinse bearings off in very hot water (keep them on the rod. This removes the cleaner. IT IS PERFECTLY OK.)
11. Immediately blow-dry your bearings to remove all the water. Spin the bearings while blow drying if possible. Use cooking tongs if bearings are too hot to hold in your hand.
12. Lubricate each bearing with about 1-2 drops of thin lubricant. We like electronic oils and sewing machine oils.
You can reuse citrus cleaner by pooring it through a coffee filter.
How to clean skateboarding bearings