Stepping onto a sturdy and sticky skateboard feels heavenly good since it gives you enough traction to perform your skateboarding skills fabulously, with safe landings, without tipping over. However, these grip tapes are supposed to get dirty. Though, a bit of dry dust and debris doesn’t affect the overall resistance too much, if you step on the board with muddy or wet shoes, it might lose its visual appeal and grip.
The good news is, that you don’t necessarily have to spend hundreds of dollars every month to replace the grip tape, to retain your skateboard’s original luster and traction since it’s possible to clean the debris over it. There are plenty of methods to do so but the efforts, time, and results vary. Based on how old the grip tape is or how dirty it has gone, you can use one of the given skateboard grip tape cleaning methods and save your hard-earned money.
4 Ways To Clean
1. Use A Soft-Bristled Brush
Shortboards feature relatively thinner grip tapes and are more prone to water damage which means you can’t use window cleaners or any other cleaning agent to remove grime onto them. Thus, the best way to clean a shortboard is to use a soft-bristled brush – the one you use to clean your carpet.
The wires of the brush should not be sharp or of metal otherwise, they will strip the grip tape apart. For more precise cleaning, you can also use a spare toothbrush. After buying the brush from a general hardware store, rub it over the grip tape horizontally, from one end to another one. Clean a section first before moving towards other sections to get better results.
Remember, you can’t rub the brush too hard on the tape otherwise it might tear apart. Similarly, you should not strip the grime buildup away. Try to bring the embedded dust to the surface of the tape by gently rubbing it and keep doing so until no more stains are there. If your board has some stubborn stains that are not willing to fade off, you should use grip gum.
On the other hand, if you have a longboard, you can use a window cleaner or soap-water solution to clean its grip tape. To do so, make a soap solution with lukewarm water in a bowl and dip the bristles of the brush into the bowl. After this, rub the soaked brush onto the tape in a similar way; in a horizontal motion, from section to section. Indeed, longboards are partially resistant to water damage but still, you can damage the whole thing if cleaned incautiously.
Therefore, it’s advised not to pool the water over the board. Also, after cleaning, use a microfiber cloth to soak the moisture up, and don’t ride the board for at least 3-4 hours after cleaning, until it gets dried completely. Once dried, rub grip gum over the whole surface to make your board more sticky and grippy.
2. Use Belt Sander
Using a Belt sander is also quite an effective method to clean years-old dirt and debris off your skateboard. These sander cleaners are easily available in local hardware stores and online stores for around 8-10 bucks. To use them, you first need to put your skateboard on a table, brush off the dirt from the surface and start rubbing the sander block onto the grip tape, just as you rub erasers. Once the sander block gets dirty, clean the residue over it with a brush and rub it again.
Keep going until the grip tape is free of all the absurd stains. You can also apply more pressure to clean deeper stains. Just don’t be too hard on the areas around the bolts otherwise doing so could strip or damage the tape. Remember that cleaning a skateboard grip tape with a belt sander block requires much time and effort. And if you’ve cleaned the grip tape for years, you might not get the desired results.
Therefore, it’s recommended to clean your skateboard after one or two months so the dirt won’t be too hard to remove. Besides debris and grime, a belt sander is also quite effective to remove bubble gum over the grip tape. While rubbing the sander block across the tape, you might grind or knuckles or finger accidentally. To prevent this, wear gloves.
3. Use Paper Towel & Hairdryer
If you’ve stepped on the waxed road accidentally and then put the same feet onto your skateboard then this wax would become a part of grip tape by getting ingrained into it. Unfortunately, you can’t use a sander block, brush, soapy solution, or even the grip gum to remove this wax off the tape.
However, the paper towel-hair dryer technique might help. In this, you need to subject the grip tape to the hairdryer (on hot settings) for several minutes. Doing so will melt the wax down which you can wipe off using a paper towel. If you don’t have a hairdryer, you can also put your skateboard under direct sunlight for a few hours to melt wax residue from it.
4. Cleaning Colored Grip tapes
Colored grip tapes contain aluminum oxide which can come out way too easily on rubbing. Also, you can’t rub such kind of grip tape with a brush as it could scratch it away. Thus, the best way to clean colored or transparent grip tape is to get natural rubber and dab it hard onto the surface. If doing so will not clean the tape then there’s another way, too.
In case the colored grip tape is way too dirty then wet a rag slightly and dab it onto the surface gently. Remember that the rag should not be soaked in water since it could damage the deck and reduce the traction. Once dried, rub the natural rubber onto the stain to clean the board to your satisfaction. On the other hand, if the grip tape is worn, scraped, or beyond the state of cleaning, it’s better to replace it so you can perform your master tricks perfectly.
HARVEY C. DEEN
I am a skater and I love it. I have been skating since I was a little kid and it is my favorite thing to do. Skating is not just a hobby for me, it is my life. I have competed in skating competitions all over the world and have won many awards. I am also very involved in the skating community, coaching young skaters and helping to promote the sport.