New skates are an expense that our family hasn’t had to face yet, even though our kids have been growing out of one or even two pairs each winter. We’ve been fortunate so far with finding gently used skates at local Thrift Stores, consignment shops and garage sales but this year I could only find a pair in very poor condition for our daughter. At $3.99, I decided to take a risk and see if I could clean them up: other than the rusty blades and discoloured plastic, it looked like they were used only a handful of times with mint condition boot liners and clips.
With less than 30 minutes of elbow grease, a few pennies worth of cleaning materials, and a $4 skate sharpening, I’m happy to report that we have a sparkly pair of new-to-us skates and we had a blast at our first Family Skate of the season! Here are a few quick tricks to cleaning up old skates and rusty skate blades:
Remove Rust From Skate Blades
- Put a tbsp of CLR on to the edge of a steel wool pad and scour for about 5 minutes. I used Grade #00/very fine and could have used oil or WD40 if we didn’t have any CLR on hand.
Sharpen the Blades
- All skates blades, new and used need to be sharpened on a regular basis. Note: brand new skates must be sharpened before using them the first time, otherwise the blades will have no sharp edges to catch the ice and your feet will slide apart with no way of stopping them. Think “Bambi on Ice” … it ain’t pretty and it certainly ain’t comfortable!
Get Rid of Old Stickers and Residue
- Goo Gone easily lifts old price tags, name labels, hockey tape, and any other adhesives that make second hand skates look even more worn than they are. I use a few drops on a small square of paper towel or a rag.
Polish the Plastic
- A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great for removing dirt and discolouration of plastic moulded skates. Instead of ruining a whole sponge, cut off just the amount you’ll need so the rest of the sponge stays nice for next time. For both skates, I used 1/6 of a sponge and still had a little bit left intact for some spot cleaning on the kitchen walls before throwing the piece in the garbage.
Important Safety Note: I wore rubber gloves and thoroughly washed and dried the skates after using all of these toxic products on them. Little hands will be touching these skates, and even if they’re wearing mittens, those mittens are very likely to go into eyes, mouths and noses (ugh!) so I don’t take any chances with chemical residue.
Replace the Laces
- These particular skates don’t have skate laces, but many of our other second hand pairs do. Replacing old laces that are stained or frayed is an inexpensive way to make a tired pair of skates look new again. If the laces are too long, try to avoid trimming them, or you’ll have more frayed laces on your hands. Simply wrap the laces around your ankles as many times as needed before tying the bow. If the laces are too short, don’t try to skip a few holes or hooks to “make-do”. Skates are designed to support your ankles and it’s my opinion that you should use all of the fasteners that your skates are equipped with.
Once you have your skates looking lickety-split new again, take good care of them and they’ll continue to sparkle.
3 tips for keeping your skates in good condition:
- Always dry skate blades with a towel or old face cloth after each use. Wipe the snow off of the bottom of the skate boots too, so they don’t drip on to the blades once you’ve stored them away. We keep our “skate rag” with our skates so we never forget it at home.
- Always walk on rubberized or wooden surfaces with your skates unless you’re wearing protective skate guards. Stepping on cement will dull the blades and you’ll end up spending extra money on skate sharpening, or worse – replacing the blades and/or skates.
- Never store your skates with the guards on. Even if the blades and guards seem dry, moisture can collect and cause rust to form and then back to the skate sharpener you go! If you notice a striped pattern of rust on the bottom of your skate blades, you can be sure that wet skate guards are to blame. If you want to protect your skate blades, use an elasticized terry cloth or fleece guard. Don’t rely on the material to do the job of tip #1 though – that’s begging for rust.
Skating is an activity that our family enjoys for 5 months of the year. Buying second hand skates and taking good care of them makes skating a budget friendly choice, and since we re-purpose our bike helmets and use our regular snow suits, there are no other costs associated other than the odd sharpening and the $4 entrance fee for our family. Better yet, the Ottawa River has FREE admission for a few months each winter!