Clean bearings are going to roll smoother, roll faster, and will last much longer than dirty bearings. Dirt and grime foul the bearings and can cause pitting which make rotation uneven and rough. The following paragraphs have instructions for cleaning bearings with removable shields. If you do not have removable shields, then skip the following instructions. Cleaning and lubricating your bearings often will make them last a long time. Also try to avoid getting your bearings wet or sandy, as both of those are particularly bad for bearings.
The tools that you are going to need for this process include a straight pin, a small bowl or a metal pan, a bearing cleaning product, a small brush for cleaning such as a soft or a medium toothbrush, paper towels and clean towels or shop rags.
When dealing with removable shields you are going to want to insert the very tin of the straight pin into the C-rings end, which is responsible for keeping the shield in place on the body of the bearing. You should just gently pry away the C ring toward the middle of the bearing and work the pin around the circle. Now you can remove the shield as slowly as you can, making sure that you are not causing damage.
Now place the bearing in a container and flush it with the cleaner to get rid of contaminates. Citrus based cleaners work particularly well for this purpose. Use the toothbrush to remove grime and dirt. If the bearings happen to be particularly dirty, then this step may need to be repeated. Make sure that the solvent is changed with every rinse.
Once the bearing has been cleaned, make sure that it is patted dry gently using a towel that is clean and free of lint. Place the bearings on a paper towel and give them time to air dry. Now make sure that all of the water has had a chance to evaporate away before you move on to the next step in the process.
Once the bearing is completely dry you can add between one and two drops of a high quality lubricant to the bearing’s inside. A little bit of lubricant can really go a long way. Now you should rotate the bearing in such a way that the lubricant is worked into all of the moving parts, and make sure that all of the balls have been completely and properly covered in the lubricating agent for the best results.
Now replace the shield, placing it on the bearing and allowing the C ring to slip back into the groove that is just next to the shield. Now you can work the C-ring’s remaining length gently and slowly along that fitted groove until it has completely and fully snapped back into place. Now you can put your brand new clean bearings right back on your skates. Make sure that you spin them a bit to make sure that the lubricating agent is distributed evenly and to ensure that all of the wheels are spinning as smoothly as possible.