Dirt and other debris builds up inside rollerblade wheel bearings between the protective shields or seals, ball bearings and crown–and the oil inside the bearings thickens. As the thickened oil can’t lubricate the ball bearings properly, the bearings malfunction and the rollerblade wheels roll less smoothly across surfaces and may even make wheel noise. Given these factors, it is extremely important to clean the bearings regularly to prevent damage to your rollerblades or physical harm from a malfunction-related accident.
Remove your rollerblade wheels by unscrewing the wheel bolts counterclockwise and then pull the wheels.
Push or pry the bearings from the wheels with a bearing tool or small, flat-head screwdriver based on the type of spacer used (if any) with your bearings and wheels. Place the tool along the inner edge of bearings with seamless standard or no spacers and push both through the wheels. Place the tool head inside the space between the bearings and seamed floating or satellite spacers and pry both from the wheels.
Insert the tip of a pushpin or craft utility knife into the seam at the outer edge of a shield or seal on the first bearing and then pop the shield or seal from the bearing. If your bearings have C-clips, insert the tool tip into the open end of the C-clip ring, pry the C-clip from the bearing and then tap the bearing against your hand to dislodge the side shield—popping it out with a tool if necessary. Repeat with each bearing.
Fill a container with a bearing-formulated or citrus-based cleaner or acetone. Drop your bearings and metal shields (if applicable) into the container and soak for 5 minutes—longer if using a bearing-formulated cleaner and recommended by the cleaner manufacturer. Wipe non-metal shields or seals with a soft dry or damp cloth and set aside.
Lay a cloth over the top of a second empty container after the bearings have soaked. Secure the cloth with a rubber or non-rubber stretch band or your hand, and then pour the bearings and cleaner out of the first container over the cloth so that the cleaner enters the second container–but the bearings and any dirt remain on top of the cloth.
Pull the dirty cloth from the second container, remove the bearings and set the cloth side. Drop the bearings into the filtered cleaning fluid and repeat Step 5. Repeat the process as needed with fresh cloths until you can no longer see any debris on a cloth when you switch containers.
Place the bearings on a dry cloth outside and wait 8 to 12 hours or overnight for the bearings to dry.
Apply a bearing lubricant—spray oil or gel—onto the bearings and then reassemble the parts. Press the side shields and/or C-clips or seals back into the bearings and push the bearings and/or spacers back into the wheels. Screw bolts clockwise through the wheels onto your rollerblades to reattach the wheels.
Items you will need
- Rollerblade tool kit
- Small, flat-headed screwdriver
- Lint-free microfiber cloths
- Craft utility knife (optional)
- Bearing formulated cleaner
- Citrus based cleaner (optional)
- Acetone (optional)
- Glass containers
- Rubber or non-rubber stretch band (optional)
- Bearing lubricant
- Always wear a mask, goggles and gloves as some cleaners can negatively affect a person's health. Open windows or turn on exhaust fans when cleaning for the same reason.
- Cleaning with harsh chemicals, detergent or water can damage (rust or scar) metal parts.
- Never apply lubricant before cleaning or before your bearings dry completely.
- rollerblade image by Judy Ben Joud from Fotolia.com