There is nothing like the sticky, sturdy feeling of stepping onto fresh grip tape. Yet that sticky feeling that comes standard with new boards doesn't last forever. A skateboard can feel slick after just a few steps in the sand, mud or another unwanted substance.
While you don't have to skate on slick grip tape just because you took a misstep while riding, you can easily clean your board's grip tape instead. Cleaning your skateboard's grip tape won't make your board feel brand new again, but it will wipe the grime, so you can continue riding without having to replace the entire piece of tape.
Follow these simple steps to clear the grime from your grip tape and get back on your board the same day. The steps are slightly different when used on traditional trick skateboards versus cruisers and longboards, because different types of grip tape are used on different types of boards.
Cleaning Traditional Skateboard Grip Tape (Shortboards)
- Use Rubber to Remove Surface Crud
Most skate shops sell a piece of rubber known as "Grip Gum," which effectively removes surface grime from your grip tape. This same type of rubber is also sold for a lower price at art shops and is commonly used to remove rubber cement. Ask for "rubber cement pickup" and a store attendant should be able to help you find what you need, for just a few dollars.
Wipe the piece of rubber firmly along all areas of the grip tape to remove dust, dirt and other substances that are dirtying your grip tape.
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- Clean Deeper with a Soft Wire Brush
Some websites advise skaters to clean their boards with window cleaning solution and a toothbrush. However, a liquid cleaning solution can work its way through a traditional skateboard's permeable grip tape and be absorbed by the board's deck — softening and eventually ruining it.
Toothbrushes aren't typically coarse enough to remove deep grime, so consider using a soft wire brush instead. Purchase a soft, brass wire brush at your local hardware store, and start scrubbing.
Scrub the grip tape in sections with the wire brush to bring deeper, below-the-surface grime to the top. Remove the surface grime with the piece of natural rubber one more time, and you're ready to ride.
Cleaning Coarse Longboard Grip Tape
Longboard cruising skateboards are equipped with a thicker, coarse grip tape that is not permeable. This means you can use a window cleaning substance or water to remove the grime.
- Scrub the Grip Tape
Start by filling a ½ cup with window cleaner or water. Dip your soft, brass brush into the solution and begin scrubbing the grip tape. Start at one end of the board and work your way to the other end, brushing in small sections to ensure all dirt is removed.
- Dry the Surface Thoroughly
Use a large microfiber cloth or several smaller microfiber cloths to dry the grip tape thoroughly before continuing. Place the cloth on top of the deck and pat it until it sticks to the grip tape. Do not attempt to wipe the cloth along the tape to dry it. Let the cloth sit on the grip tape for three to four hours, or until the tape feels completely dry.
- Wipe it Clean with Rubber
Your grip tape may not look clean when it finishes drying with the microfiber cloth. However, your Grip Gum or rubber cement remover won't work properly if the grip tape is even slightly moist. Wait until the grip is entirely dry, and wipe the piece of rubber along it until all of the grime is cleared.
What to Expect
Thoroughly cleaning your grip tape won't make it look like the day you rode your new board from the shop. However, it will make your tape feel sticky and sturdy, without causing any harm to the tape or board.
The only way to make grip tape feel like it did the day you bought your board is to replace the tape entirely. Consider replacing your grip tape if it's peeling, worn through or slippery in some areas.
New tape costs about $5 to $10 per board, but the task of removing old tape and applying new tape can be tedious. Purchasing a piece of natural rubber, a wire brush and a microfiber cloth will cost about the same, but it will help extend the life of each piece of grip tape. These three inexpensive items should be kept in every rider's board bag.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Carmen Fiordirosa works as marketing director for CleanTools, a manufacturer of household drying and cleaning products. CleanTools highly acclaimed drying cloth “The Absorber” has been used to dry a variety of home items, along with autos and boats. To date, The Absorber has garnered over 700 5-star reviews on Amazon.
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