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

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.

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