One of the most crucial parts of being a good surfer, is picking out the right board. Surfboards are expensive, so when you purchase one you expect it to last. However, what a lot of people fail to realise is that a surfboard is an investment, and you need to take proper care of it for it to last.
Cleaning your board is an important job you need to do to keep your surfboard in great shape, and lengthen its life. Cleaning will also prevent any further damage – like dings and gashes – from occurring.
Throughout this article, you’ll find out what the best practices and techniques can be used to effectively clean your surfboard. If you follow them religiously, your board could last for years to come.
At the very least, you should be rinsing and wiping down your board after every use. Saltwater can seriously damage the integrity of your board, especially if it took a beating out on the waves. The last thing you want is the saltwater penetrating through the fibreglass coating through any gashes or cracks – this is known as waterlogging and can damage the board from the inside.
Giving your board a freshwater rinse after each use is a quick, simple and effective way to look after it. Adopting this habit will help your board last longer and work smoothly.
However, rinsing isn’t enough! You will have to give your surfboard a deep clean every so often. Once every few sessions should be enough, but the general rule of thumb is to keep your board tidy after every session.
To clean your board, you’ll need to use the appropriate tools and accessories. You’ll also want to carve out some free time to do it – it can be a bit of a long task.
Here are the recommended tools:
- Warm water
- Wax comb
- Surfboard cleaning spray
- Coconut oil
Ideally, you’ll want to use a wax comb that has two different sides to it: one serrated edge, and a flat (but sharp) edge. You will be able to purchase surfboard cleaning spray either online, or at your local surf shop. The spray is specifically designed to break down any residual wax.
Step 1: Prepare Your Board
The first step is often the most challenging part of surfboard cleaning. What you need to do is to remove any old, sandy, and dirty wax that may have accumulated over time. As the wax is hardened, the easiest way to soften the wax is to use the sun!
Place your board in direct sunlight – the heat will soften the wax, making it easier to remove. Alternatively, if the sun’s hidden behind some clouds (or you’re cleaning your board after the sun’s gone down) you can use a hairdryer to soften the wax. Be sure to apply the heat evenly across the board.
You will need to be careful, however, as too much heat can cause unwanted damage.
Step 2: Make Diagonal Cuts with Wax Comb
Grab the serrated edge of your wax comb and create diagonal cuts into the wax. You want to cross the cuts over, so you can make diamond patterns. Using this technique is far more effective than cutting straight lines, as you’re cutting through a higher surface area.
Once you’ve made a sufficient number of cuts, flip the comb around and use the flat, sharp edge to scrape away the wax. The number of times you repeat this process will depend on the number of wax coats you applied.
Step 3: Apply Warm Water to Your Surfboard
You don’t want to overdo the scraping. If you’ve repeated the technique a couple of times and you’re still seeing light spots of waxing, the next step is to apply some warm water.
The warm water should be enough to soften any remaining wax. You can then wipe it away with a damp cloth.
Step 4: Apply Surfboard Cleaning Spray
If there’s any wax left on the board at this point, it’s probably unnoticeable, however, it’s still there and needs to be removed. This is where the cleaning spray comes into play.
Spray a thorough and even coating across your surfboard. Leave the solution to sit – the length of time will vary from product to product, so read the instructions. When the time is up, wipe the spray off your board and the wax should be completely removed at this point.
Step 5: Wipe Down Surfboard with Coconut Oil (Optional)
This final step is completely up to your own preferences, but it’s a highly recommended step to not skip.
Give your board one more thorough wipe down using the towel. Afterwards apply a thin, even coat of coconut oil across your surfboard. This will give your board some extra conditioning, and leave a nice, glossy finish.
Once the coconut oil has finished drying, you can now apply a fresh coat of wax and finishing spray.
Always keep your board in its bag when not in use. It’s not just a handy tool to help carry your board from A to B, but it’s a safeguard to prevent any damage from occurring. It doesn’t take much to ding a surfboard – even a bottle rolling around in your car can do damage – so leaving your board in its case will prevent any bumps and cracks from forming.
Also, the bag will help keep your board cool in hot places, as too much heat will cause delamination (or bubbles) and the “skin” will peel away from the foam board.
If you notice any openings to the foam blank of your board, this is when you will have to make repairs. You can find surfboard repair kits online, or at a local surf shop. When choosing the right repair kit, be sure to consult with a board expert, as choosing the wrong kit can actually cause further damage.
Overall, if you are consistent with cleaning your surfboard, you’ll be able to significantly extend the life of your board.
Related Article: Why Do Surfers Wax Their Boards?