It Pays To Spend A Little Extra Effort On Your Gear. Here’s How.

[Editor Note: Don Burch’s article on storing your gear was published last year around this time.  We are reprising it to help remind you that a little care for your stuff goes a long way.]

Hopefully your ski equipment has taken good care of you all winter, now it’s time for you to return the favor. Some simple steps now can save you the frustration of rusty edges, musty clothing and mouse invaded boots.

Are your skis still in the bag by the furnace where you left them after your last ski day? Hmmmm.
Credit: Mike Maginn

Skis: At the end of ski season, the bottom of your skis will be dirty. This will especially be the case if you did a lot of spring skiing. With today’s black bases it may not be that noticeable. Back in the day when a lot of bases were white the grime was obvious. Before having your skis waxed and sharpened, you want to clean the bases with a gentle cleaner. If you wax dirty skis, you’re just going to embed dirt into the wax.

I wet my skis bases with a garden hose, spray on Simple Green, wipe them down with a rag and then thoroughly rinse everything off. While you’re at it, thoroughly rinse off the top of your skis and bindings. I don’t recommend using cleansers on the top of your skis as these can interfere with the lubricants in your bindings.

Some people use commercially available ski base cleaners or Dawn dishwashing soap. Cleaning ski bases will dry them out so it’s imperative that you have them waxed afterwards and don’t let them sit all summer without a wax cover.

Racers and others who are demanding about their equipment will clean their bases using the hot scrape method. This involves hot waxing the skis and scraping the wax off before it cools. This process literally pulls the dirt off the ski. The process is repeated until the warm wax scrapes off clean. I have done this method, and it works, but it is time consuming.

A good edge sharpening and hot wax will not only have your skis ready for next season and will prevent the edges from rusting.

Boots: It’s essential that your boots and liners be totally dry before storing them. I use a boot dryer after every day skiing and before storage. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend that you take the boot liners out in order to get the boots thoroughly dry. I know it’s a pain to get the liners in and out. Warming your boots and thereby making the plastic softer will make it much easier to deal with the liners.

Store your boots in a place where mice cannot get at them. A friend of mine stored his in a shed and in the fall found them chewed on and full of things you’d wouldn’t want put your foot into.

Poles: These get the same attention as they did all winter, none.

Parkas and Ski Pants: At the end of the season, I wash my parka and ski pants in the washing machine with Nikwax TX.Direct® Wash-In. This is a product that cleans and restores water repellency and breathability, and I’ve been happy with the results. I’m not an expert on clothes washing so please go online to learn more and read the washing instructions listed on the label inside your garment.

Anyone else have any equipment maintenance tips for the off-season?


  1. Hi Don, Good stuff. I would only add that a citrus based cleaner works well and will not damage the base. Petroleum based cleaners will damage the base. I hot wax and don’t scrape leaving that thick coat on for the summer. Also skis should not be stored by standing on a concrete floor. I have some unfinished walls in the basement and stand them between the studs. While my skiing started a couple of decades before yours, I was the pro patrolman at Lost Valley and patrol director at Sunday River in the seventies, but don’t know if our paths crossed. I don’t have an exact number but I’m quite sure my area count exceeds 56. Keep writing good stuff, Best,

  2. David Berk says:

    Thank you, very helpful. Any advice please on cleaning the inside of helmets and same for long-term cleaning and storage of goggles?

    • Don Burch says:

      I don’t know how to clean the inside of helmets..mine stays relatively clean because I always wear a liner. For goggles I clean the outside of the lens with lens wipes but not the inside because it can interfere with the anti-fogging. Like everything else I make sure they’re dry before putting them away.
      Hopefully others will respond with their ideas for cleaning helmets. Anyone???

  3. Don, Yes, good stuff.

    Here’s what I do.

    Ski bases: I use a base cleaner, sparingly, followed by an ironed-on soft wax, which is scraped while still slightly warm. I then iron in my preferred wax, 3 times over a few days, adding wax as needed. They then go in closet on the first floor.
    Boots: With the liners removed, I wash the insides of the shell. I pull my ski boot orthotics from the bottom of the liners. When I am sure everything is dry. I give the inside and outside of the liners and the top and bottom of my orthotics, a light spray of Lysol. Let dry and reassemble. I put the boots on to make sure the liner is completely seated. Then I buckle tightly and put them back in their boot bag.
    Jackets and pants: Wash in Nikwax Tech Wash or ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner, both protect water repellency. NEVER EVER use a regular liquid laundry detergent. It will remove water repellency and leave emulsifiers behind. Hang in well ventilated area so they dry quickly. (You can place a fan in the room.)
    I then get out my Warren Miller videos, and watch PSIA education online videos.

    • Don Burch says:

      Thanks for the added ideas on cleaning up the boots and liners…I’m going to follow your advice!

  4. Hi Don, thanks for the tips! I always leave my boot liners out and stored in the closet with my shoes. As to ski resorts, I too am adding to the count and now stand at 76 different resorts!

  5. Don Burch says:

    Hi Dave- I taught at Lost Valley during the ’76-77 season, then part-time at Sunday River in ’77-78 and then full-time ’78-79. I remember Rocky Swain was the Ski School Director and his younger brother was full-time Ski Patrol.

  6. I have always loosened the tension on my bindings when I store them. I read once a long time ago…that prolongs the life of the springs etc. They have to be readjusted each season anyway with the bindings check.

  7. What is the URL box for?

  8. Herb Gliick says:

    You know, don’t you, that it’s never a good idea to wash a car; because the stuff that accumulates on the surface over the years protects the finish. Well similarly I never do a thing to my skis and stuff at the end of the season other than put them in a corner of the garage where they can be easily located eight months hence. They tend to look pretty ratty on fresh December snow when the next season begins; but I never have to worry about someone stealing them from a crowded rack.

  9. Dave Irons says:

    Hi Don,
    My last season at Lost Valley was 75-76. I directed the Sunday River weekend patrol from 1971-1982 as part of my 20 years in patrolling there.Rocky’s brother was Ross Swain in the days when Sunday River was small enough to have only a single full time pro mid week. You can find my book on Sunday River on Amazon along with my new book, Shawnee Peak at Pleasant Mountain. I’m heading for Sunday River today for a Ski Museum of Maine fund raising auction Saturday when the area has its annual tail gate party. Have a great summer.

    • I remember Ross. I went to Sunday River this season and LOVED it. It was 40 years ago that I last skied there. Great to hear you’re so active in preserving Maine’s ski heritage.

  10. I have a tip on storage… do not leave the skis standing up on a cement floor. The cement will draw moisture out of your ski cores and ruin them. It’s so much better to stand them up on something higher off the ground, or better yet, hang them in a ski rack designed to keep them off the floor. Also, pay attention to warming and cooling… if you are storing in a garage there is a lot of difference in temperatures and condensation, so it’s best to bring them indoors to a climate controlled environment. I use ski wraps with neoprene spacing tabs between the bases to keep the edges apart and the skis together as they hang on the rack.

  11. susan flanagan says:

    I now store my boots in the closet w/my other shoes. No mice in the house – we have 3 cats. I just have to guard them from ill-placed hairballs. In the past, when I had to store my boots elsewhere, I’d throw in some Bounce dryer sheets and change them out every couple of months. It kept the critters out and the boots smelled pretty good for at least the start of the season. I still put dryer sheets in my helmet.

  12. “this old house” carpenter, Norm Abrahms suggested and now I highly recommend storing your skis without placing them on their tails. For the past 9 years, I store them horizontally. The tails retain their original flex instead of becoming softer, as gravity was placing stress on the tails when they are stored vertically. Mount two 2X4 studs vertically on a wall, about 36″ apart. Drill 1/2 inch holes creating an upward angle, stick 8″ half-inch diameter dowels in the holes, and lay your skis on the dowels. Cost less than $10 to build and triples the half life of your boards.

  13. Norm Reynolds says:

    I have on two occasions put boots on the first day of the season, felt something strange inside, and dumped out a withered dry mouse carcass, much to the amusement of everyone else in the locker room. The mice never gnawed anything, however. Maybe not cleaning anything helps.

  14. Norm- In paragraph 8 of my article entitled “Getting Ready For The New Season” I must of had you in mind!

  15. Mike Pearson says:

    Thanks for this. Good info. For boots, I’m not sure but I believe it’s also recommended to store them fastened fairly tight, not loosely fastened. The reason I was given is that the plastic has some “memory” and will be difficult to refasten properly if stored loosely fastened or not fastened at all. Do you know if this is correct?

  16. John Barker. says:

    Hello Don! Great article with good tips. I use all of them. For boots though, I give them a really good dry time, with liners removed, then clean and install the liners back into the shells. I do, and have always, tensioned the buckles with a good snap closed. This mostly is like skiing tightness. Keeps the shell in shape.
    After cleaning and summer wax is applied, I take was paper and put several folded layers between the contact areas when putting the skiis base to base. Keeps the chafing to a minimum. Due to lack of space, I lay them horizontal on the wall in my garage. About half way up, on brackets. Thinking the climate stays about the same year round. In the fall I just reverse the procedure. I do on occasion put my boots on, and walk in them to seat the liners and squish the liner into the highs and lows of any change in the shape of my feet. The cats get a little excited if I clomp a bit to close to them. So be careful.

    Thanks for sharing your insight on the care of our equipment.

  17. Tom Curtis says:

    Hi Don,
    I have one must to add to your list. The release setting on bindings should be reduced to 3 or 4 for the off season. That allows the springs to relax and then before the season starts tighten to the position you like for skiing. Mine are set at 9 when I ski and reduced to 4 for the off season. I have some bindings which are 15 years old and still work perfectly.

  18. Thanks for the advice Tom. I’m going to follow it.

  19. I keep my gear for many years (100 plus ski days) so I pay attention to the maintenance. I used to back off the binding tension but then one year I forgot to re-tension and my first run the following season was not pretty. I’ve been told that de-tensioning is not necessary but….? I dry my boots and buckle them semi-firmly with each use but I don’t pull the liners out. In the Boise ID area our humidity is low which solves a lot of problems. I store all our skis in the garage on hooks so they are not on the cement floor. With goggles (man they are expensive these days!) I just keep them safe and dry in a fleece bag. Parka and bib pants get washed once a year per the tag. I’m no slave to fashion. All in all my skis go flat and my boots go soft from hard use before anything else wears out. PS I started skiing in 1957 in CT. Our family go-to was Mad River Glen in VT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *