Tips For Cleaning Griptape On A Skateboard

When your skateboard’s griptape gets dirty, it’s more than just an eyesore.

Dirt and debris in griptape can actually interfere with your tape’s grip.

When griptape has less grip, your feet are more likely to slide on the board and it’s harder to get lift for jumps and tricks.

The solution to dirty griptape, of course, is to clean it.

But cleaning skateboard griptape requires a little consideration of the griptape’s properties.

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How to Clean Skateboard Griptape

The point of griptape is to grip, which means it needs to stay grippy.

A lot of traditional cleaning methods will sand down griptape’s grit, which reduces the tape’s effectiveness.

skateboard griptape

Skateboard griptape is also permeable, allowing liquid to pass through, which means you can’t get it too wet or it will mess with the tape’s adhesive (possibly even with the top of your deck).

Ideally, you’ll keep water well away from your griptape (or use as little on it as possible).

Here are two ways to clean your skateboard grip, one that’s a best practice and one that will work in a pinch.

How to Clean Griptape With Grip Gum/Griptape Cleaner

*This is the best practice.

Grim gum is the griptape cleaner made by skateboard manufacturers.

Basically, it’s a piece of rubber that lifts dirt and debris without damaging griptape grit.

It is, hands down, the best cleaning option for skateboard grip because it won’t put any wear on the tape.

To clean your griptape with grip gum, you’ll need a couple of things:

  • A firm-bristled brush (we like a shoe brush)
  • Grip gum (or a standard rubber eraser) – See our recommendations below.
Grip Gum. It’s basically just a rubber eraser.

Once you have your supplies, here’s how to use grip gum grip tape cleaner:

1 – Brush the excess dirt off the deck.

If your skate deck is caked in dirt, it helps to remove some of the excess before you start in with your grip gum. (It also helps your grip gum last longer.)

When brushing, move very gently over the top of the griptape.

You are just loosening packed dirt and brushing it away.

Don’t scrub with the brush, especially if you’re using a wire brush.

What comes off comes off. You’ll get the rest with the grip gum.

2 – Go back over the spots that are still dirty with the grip tape gum.

Rub the soiled spots on your griptape with grip gum.

Use it just like an eraser.

You can give it a good rub if you need to to remove the dirt.

The grip gum will break up and leave debris on your board just like an eraser too, because that’s all it really is.

Blow or brush away the debris as you go to see if you’ve gotten the dirt up.

If a spot is still dirty, use the grip gum again.

Ideally, this will get all of the debris off your board.

When cleaning your griptape, the more you can get up with grip gum, the better off your board will be.

Cleaning with water is a last resort.

How to Clean Griptape Without Grip Gum

While we don’t recommend it (cleaning your skateboard deck with grip gum or a rubber eraser is THE way to go), you can clean your griptape without grip gum in a pinch.

However, you’ll need a bit of water and water isn’t great for your griptape or your skateboard’s deck.

Getting griptape too wet can cause it to come up from the deck.

Leaving too much water on your skateboard deck will cause it to warp over time.

That said, a little bit of water goes a long way in getting your skateboard’s grip nice and shiny again.

To clean your griptape without grip gum, you’ll need a couple of things:

  • A firm-bristled brush (we like a shoe brush)
  • A bowl of warm water
  • A towel

Once you have your supplies, here’s how to clean your griptape with a brush and water:

1 – Brush the excess dirt off the deck.

If your skate deck is caked in dirt, remove some of the excess before starting in with the water.

When brushing, move very gently over the top of the griptape.

You are just loosening packed dirt and brushing it away.

Don’t scrub with the brush, especially if it’s a wire brush.

What comes off comes off. You’ll get the rest in a minute.

2 – Wet the brush.

Dip just the tips of the brush bristles in the water and flick the brush until water stops flying off it.

You want your brush *barely* wet to clean your skateboard griptape.

A tiny amount of water won’t do much damage. A lot of water will.

3 – Clean one dirty spot with the wet brush.

Scrub very gently until the dirt comes up.

Don’t be too aggressive with your scrubbing to avoid damaging it.

4 – Pat the water off the board with a towel.

Don’t rub the towel on the griptape or you’ll end up with towel fuzz stuck in it.

Just pat it to remove the water.

5 – Move onto the next dirty spot on the board and repeat.

When cleaning griptape, you should do one spot at a time, drying as you go.

Do NOT leave water sitting on your grip tape.

6 – Make one final pass over the deck.

Do this only if you care about how your skateboard looks.

Once you’ve gotten all the dirty spots out of your griptape, dip your brush in the water, flick off the excess, and brush your entire board.

If you don’t do this, you will have some very clean spots in your griptape that make the rest of the griptape look dingy. 

Making one final pass of the deck will make your griptape more uniformly clean.

However, if you don’t care about how your board looks, only how it skates, skip this step and avoid the extra water.

A little surface dirt won’t affect your skateboard’s performance.

As long as you get the caked-on dirt out of the grip, your traction should be fine.

7 – Pat your skateboard dry with a towel.

Go over it two or three times to absorb as much water as you can.

Don’t rub the towel on the griptape or you’ll end up with towel fuzz stuck in it.

8 – Let your skateboard dry completely.

Lay your skateboard upside down on a rack or between two objects (like chairs) to let it dry.

By laying your board upside down, you ensure the water moves away from the adhesive instead of sinking into it more.

9 – Be content.

This is the best cleaning your skateboard is going to get.

If you have scrubbed with a little water and the dirt still isn’t coming out, you won’t benefit your griptape or board by using more water or soap.

It will just break down your griptape’s adhesive.

Instead, you’ll be better off changing your griptape.

How to Clean Longboard Griptape

Longboard griptape is a little stronger and a little more water-resistant than standard skateboard griptape, so it can get a little wetter without creating the same problems.

However, no griptape is completely waterproof, and it’s really not worth the risk to your grip’s adhesive or skateboard deck.

When your longboard gets caked, we recommend the same steps to clean a longboard’s griptape that we do to clean a skateboard’s griptape.

Try a brush and grip gum first.

Use water only if you absolutely have to or don’t have any grip gum (or a rubber eraser) available.

Best Grip Gums

Grip Gum is actually a brand name, and still one of the best available griptape cleaners out there. 

We also like Enjoi Wonder Rub Griptape Cleaner for its design and size, which makes it easy to hold.

Enjoi Skateboards Wonder Rub Griptape Cleaner
buy at Amazon

How to Keep Griptape Clean

You can avoid having to do a deep clean of your skateboard’s grip tape by removing dirt on the grip as it appears.

Keep grip gum on hand, and when you get home with a soiled deck, use the gum to erase the marks right away.

By keeping your skateboard grip clean, you can avoid the issues that arise from a dirty deck.

Namely, your griptape losing its grip and you losing your footing on your board.

You CAN clean griptape without ruining it, but the fewer deep cleans you have to do, the longer your grip will last and the better your ride will be.

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