How To Clean Your Surfboard Like A Pro (Just Like New)

how to clean your surfboard

Got a surfboard covered in dirty wax? 

We’re gonna show you exactly how to clean your surfboard so it looks just like new in just five simple steps.

Let’s jump straight into our tried and tested method (using household items) for keeping your fibreglass white and your board squeaky clean.

What you’ll need

Before we start cleaning your board you’ll need:

  • Plastic credit card or a wax comb 
  • Small rubbish bag
  • A clean rag 
  • WD40
  • A clean cloth 
  • Surfboard cleaner or solvents like turpentine or white spirit
  • A little water
  • A towel
  • Rubber gloves (optional but recommended)

You’re going to want to do this either outside or in an external structure that’s well-ventilated because you’ll be using a form of solvent.

How to clean your surfboard so it looks just like new

Heating your surfboard

Most major brands of surfboard wax will use paraffin wax as a base material. Heat will loosen the wax until it eventually turns into a liquid making the whole cleaning process much easier.

There are two options here:

  1. Place your surfboard in direct sunlight with your old surf wax facing up. As soon as you see the wax start to shine and glisten it’s ready to start scraping.
  2. If you live in a cold climate you can use a hair dryer to warm up the deck of your board, don’t get too close and keep the dryer moving at all times.

The golden rule here is to only apply enough heat to soften your wax. Too much heat and you could damage your surfboard.

Pro tip – Warm water surf wax and base coat need more heating before they start to melt.

Scraping off your surfboard wax

Now you’re all set to start removing the softened wax from your surfboard.

  • Grab your small rubbish bag and keep it handy as you start to remove the wax from your board.
  • Using your plastic credit card or wax comb start at the nose of your board and run down your board in long straight lines.
  • Place the removed wax into your rubbish bag and repeat.
  • Use long strokes to cover the surface area efficiently.

Never press too hard on your credit card or wax comb when you’re scraping. This can lead to pressure marks and cracking in the fibreglass or your board.

Cleaning the surface of your board

Now you’ve got the worst of the dirt and wax off your board it’s time to deal with any remaining wax and marks.

You can use a solvent of some sort to ensure you get a ‘like new’ finish to your clean board:

  • You can use surfboard cleaners which are a great option if you don’t mind spending the money.
  • If you’re trying to clean your board on a shoestring budget, turpentine or white spirit is going to do an equally good job.

Apply some solvent to your clean rag before buffing any remaining spots of wax or scuff marks.

After this, it’s a good idea to give the whole board a wipe-over for two reasons:

  • It ensures any minuscule bits of old wax are removed
  • It’s a great way to assess your board for any damage

Different solvents may work equally well but I can confirm I personally have used both of the above and can recommend them.

Cleaning your tail pad

Your tail pad is the grip you use for your back foot. Over time, the diamond patterns that make up the grip build up a mixture of dirt, grime and wax.

Tail pads are notoriously hard to clean but we’ve got a secret trick that rejuvenates even white tail pads.

WD40 is perfect for getting in the crack between your tail pad.

Use your rag to scrub away the grime and for any excess grime simply repeat the process.

Finishing up

The last step in your process is probably the most satisfying.

Start by giving your board a freshwater rinse to remove any solvents or cleaners left on the board.

Now for the final step, you can set about adding your fresh coat of wax, ready and waiting for your gripping needs.

When cleaning your surfboard isn’t enough

As much as you clean your surfboard it isn’t going to fix a damaged surfboard.

If you notice any dings or holes in your board when you’re cleaning it then you’ll need to seek out the assistance of a surfboard repair specialist who can advise on if it’s irreparable damage or not.

Proper care to reduce surfboard cleaning

Proper care when you’re out of the water is key to extending the lifespan of your surfboard and your surfing gear.

Lack of care can have detrimental effects in the long run including:

  • Build-ups of sandy wax damage the neoprene of your wetsuit
  • Wax build-up can make your wetsuit or boardshorts stained
  • Regularly maintained wax makes for easier removal
  • Decreasing the life of the board
  • Too much wax adds weight to your surfboard and reduces your buoyancy and makes it harder to catch waves

Best practices for surfboard care

Whether you’re a beginner surfer or have years of surfing under your belt following these tips will help keep your surfboard squeaky clean.

  • Separate your boards with a surfboard rack when you’re storing them
  • Use a board bag or surfboard sock for transporting your quiver
  • Never stack unprotected surfboards on top of each other (unless you want surf wax on the underside of your board)

Surfboards are a big purchase and even experienced surfers are guilty of overlooking how to look after their surfboards.


Now you’re all set to start cleaning your surfboard like a pro. With the cost of surfboards increasing every year it’s never been so important to take care of your stick.

Hopefully, our helpful guide has given you all the advice you need to keep your new surfboard looking like it just left the shop for years to come.