Distilled water?

Hey guys,
Can one clean bearings in distilled water? I have plenty on hand (long story)

If you couple that with a good grease and oil cutting dish soap, then yes.

Otherwise, no. Water won’t break down and remove any lubricants. It may help remove solid contaminants, but that’s about it.

So just like dish soap? Great, thanks!

Water + soap works fine, just make sure you dry it out completely. Wouldn’t want any rusted bearings :wink:

Water and soap along with vigorous shaking didn’t do anything when I tried it :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and if the bearing is actually salvageable just with cleaning!

No matter what, even with acetone I’ve come across bearings that needed the paper slip technique. It’s not a testimony to the cleaning solution but rather to the amount and stubbornness of grit that needed to be removed.

No matter what cleaning solution I’ve used, I’ve found the most effective phase for me in removing debris was compressed air blasts. Which is actually a step that most people either don’t have the equipment/supplies for, or simply bypass! Compressed air is also dandy for blowing out excess oil if you’re a liquid lube kind of guy (which I am).

Just like computer duster or something?

Yup, it works in a pinch! I prefer a full-on air compressor with a gun/nozzle attachment, but we don’t all have those. I’m supposed to inherit my dad’s sometime soon, but until that time comes I just use his when I go out to visit every other weekend. When I’ve been too impatient I’ve used the computer duster cans and they do the trick!

We have to keep in mind that the solvents break down and remove the lubricants. When we blow OUT the bearing, that removes solid contaminants. What blowing out won’t remove, the paper slip method is the best and most ideal solution. I recommend mineral spirits for the paper slip cleaning method because it takes longer to evaporate. When I’m done, I clean again in fresh acetone.

I also have different containers I use for solvents. One is for acetone(the smaller one). The larger one is for mineral spirits.

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Thanks everyone!

Yes. That’s my preferred method. GregP likes air compressors. I have one of but prefer the canned air for finer work.

I’m using a bike pump. It isn’t ideal but it works good. Just kind of tricky to use at times. I’m debating getting a small air compressor for this task.

Air compressors are great, I use it for the bike, the car, and now I’ve even bought some pneumatic tools which are cool and WAAAAAY cheaper than power tools

Oh, and BTW, distilled water is no better or worse than plain tap water for bearings.

Pure distilled water will not cause rust or oxidation on steel.
It is the minerals in tap water that will.

I’ve blown the inner race & balls out of a fast 201 bearing using compressed air. I’m not sure if the air was the problem because I’ve also had a 201(and a Duncan) both come apart just soaking in mineral spirits. The one destroyed using air had been cleaned several times over a long period prior to the incident though. I was able to fix the Duncan, Still have the 201 that was soaking, but the one using compressed air went flying! Those balls are tiny, couldn’t find em all Lol! I still use either method of cleaning though because I’ve only ruined a few out of the many I’ve done. I’ve never tried water & soap for bearing cleaning.

That’s nutty! I’ve never seen a bearing completely disassemble like that!

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I gotta agree. There would have to be a major mechanical failure of the cage system for the balls to be able to get blown out. Either that or the bearing was in the category of “POS” in the first place and was gonna fall apart on its own.

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Very few yoyo bearings are ABEC rated so this could happen.
The inner and outer races were not proper, or the balls would never blow out.

Yeah, I can’t see the old Hasbro FAST 201 having a “High Quality” bearing or the duncan out of an old Throwmonkey for that matter! 201 bearings have 7 balls. The duncans have 9 balls. I’ve also had some duncans outer race rust(so not stainless Steel?), but have never had a 201 bearing rust making me assume they are stainless steel?.Other than that I have no idea what “Quality” these bearings are. I’ve never had it happen with ANY bearings other than the ones mentioned and I use bearings for a lot more than just yoyos. The ones that fell apart in mineral spirits really threw me off though.

Here’s a pic of the 201 bearing that fell apart in mineral spirits. I guarantee I could put it back together(as I did with the duncan that did the same), but I actually like it apart.


I can’t find anything visually wrong with any of the parts, and have had a pretty extreme close up view of it in it’s entirety. When I soaked in MS, it was in a small GLASS jam jar, and I did shake it lightly occasionally. The one blown out with compressed air had been cleaned in the same manner, albeit not the same week. The air was blowing on the side of the bearing retainer that is face down in the above photo.