Our cross-country ski care guide

Our cross-country ski care guide

The maintenance of cross-country skis is essential to keep them in good condition as long as possible. Early season waxing, sharpening, storage... We’ll explain it all to you!

Your cross-country skis allow you to climb mountains and enjoy well-deserved descents. Though regular maintenance of the soles is essential, discover also how to sharpen the edges, or repair the topsheet (top of the ski).

How to choose your touring skis

You can maintain your cross-country skis yourself with a few tools and the right gestures. There are several components of cross-country skis that deserve special attention, as they deteriorate with use and have an impact on the performance and life of the skis.

1. Soles: We're not talking about the soles of your boots, but those of your cross-country skis. They are located under the skis, along their entire length. The soles is where you install the skins.

2. Edges: these are the metal edges on the sides of your ski, at the level of the sole. They are sharp and ensure a good grip in the snow and the control of your trajectories.

3. Skins or anti-slide fluff:  These strips of synthetic fabric (and no, it's not real sealskin!) with hair on one side and glue on the other are placed on the sole. They allow the skis to grip well to avoid going backwards when climbing.

4. Topsheet: this is the area on top of the skis where graphics and branding are usually located. The topsheet serves as a protective layer to preserve the core of the skis.

Our cross-country ski care guide
Our cross-country ski care guide

1. Maintain the soles: cleaning and waxing

In direct contact with the snow, your soles accumulate impurities that can become embedded or create holes. To clean them, first dry your skis with a clean, dry cloth, paying particular attention to the soles and edges (avoid drying in direct sunlight, which will damage them). Then apply a wax remover for a thorough cleaning, before drying them again with a cloth.

Time for waxing! This maintenance technique consists of applying a suitable product, wax, to the sole of your cross-country ski to nourish and protect it. We advise you to set up in a well-ventilated area to avoid being bothered by the toxic fumes released by the wax. To wax your skis, you need a waxing kit or:

- a block of wax (adapted to the type of snow: cold, temperate, humid, etc.)
- a waxing iron
- a waxing table (or workbench)
- a waxing vice
- a nylon brush
- a wax remover
- a metal scraper (or plastic scraper, but handling may be more difficult and you don't want too much wax on the sole)
- a clean, dry cloth 

Let's go!

► Attach the first ski to the table, using the vice, with the sole facing up.

► Brush the sole from the front to the back of the ski (in the direction of travel) with the nylon brush to clean it. If you can't remove all the dirt with the brush, you can apply some wax stripper.

► Refer to the wax instructions to heat the iron to the correct temperature.

► Melt the wax bar by putting it on the iron and put drops of wax on the whole surface of the sole.

► Spread the wax drops with the iron, using regular and slow movements in the direction of the glide (from the tip to the heel of the ski). Be careful, as with an iron, do not leave the waxing iron stationary on any part of the soleplate, as this may damage it.

► Wait for the wax to cool (between 15 and 30 minutes).

► If you are doing an early or mid-season waxing, scrape off the excess cold wax layer with the scraper. Hold it vertically and remove the excess in the direction of the slide.

► For a perfect finish, brush the sole to remove all wax residues and wipe it with a cloth to remove small dust. This is what will allow the skins to stick to the ski.

► If it is an end-of-season waxing, leave the extra layer of wax on the base, without scraping it off. It will protect it from water infiltration, temperature variations and dirt during the ski storage period.

► Repeat with the second ski.

Tip to prevent kicking: to prevent the skins from kicking up during the ascent (when the snow accumulates under the skins), you can apply a suitable wax to your ski soles and skins or line them with your usual wax.

Our cross-country ski care guide

During the season, if you want to know if you need to wax your skis, look at your soles. If they have turned white, if you see stains or scratches, they should be waxed. You can also entrust your skis to the technicians of a DECATHLON workshop for a waxing adapted to their use.

👉 Waxing for occasional use
👉 Waxing for intensive use
👉 Infrared waxing
👉 End of season waxing

2. Prevent rusty and dull edges

Ski (or snowboard) edges are subject to two common problems: rusting and loss of their cutting function. Rust is caused by prolonged contact with moisture, so it should be avoided at all costs when you are not enjoying the snow on your skis. As soon as you return from a session, dry your skis well with a synthetic cloth, taking the time to go over the edges. We also recommend that you store your cross-country skis in a storage bag between two winter seasons and that you store them in a dry place (watch out for the garage and the cellar).

To see if your edges are dull, run a fingernail over them. Is it scratched? Then you have to sharpen them, because they are no longer sharp enough to grip the snow. To sharpen your edges, you will need:

- an edge sharpener (a file tool with a steel file)
- an edge eraser
- a clean rag

Now get to work!

► Clean the sole of your ski with the cloth. 

► Secure the ski on its edge
(ideally with a vice). 

► Set the sharpener to the sharpening angle you want to achieve (from 90° to 85°).

► Sharpen the lateral part of the edge (the part towards the edge of the ski, the edges) by pressing gently with the file of the sharpener. This is the main sharpening operation.

► Sharpen the part of the edge under the ski.

► Use the eraser to remove the burrs (the remaining threads) after sharpening.

► Turn the ski over on the other side and repeat with the second edge, then repeat with the second ski.

Our cross-country ski care guide

4. Repair the topsheet

Sometimes the topsheet of your skis is scratched. Apart from the visual aspect, this may allow moisture to seep in and damage the structure of your skis. EIn case of deep scratches, we advise you to repair them quickly with:

- large scotch tape
- glue and Araldite hardener
- rubbing alcohol

Watch our video tutorial to follow the steps to repair a topsheet (and replace the UV lamp with Alradite hardener).

👉 Have a ski topsheet repaired at DECATHLON
👉  Have your bindings fitted at DECATHLON

Our cross-country ski care guide

5. Service your bindings

Maintaining your cross-country ski bindings does not require any special equipment and is quick and easy:

- Wipe them with a cloth after each trip
- Before storing the skis between two winters, loosen the bindings to relieve the spring
- As for storage, we'll let you read the rest of the article.

6. Store your skis in good conditions

Even if you have become a pro with a waxing iron and an edge sharpener, there is one last important point to take care of your skis: store them in the right conditions. And yes, storage is an important parameter, which can damage or protect the skis depending on several parameters.

➡️ Before storing, dry them well with a dry cloth, paying particular attention to the ski bindings and edges. 
➡️ If you can, put them in a storage bag.
➡️ To store them, choose a place at room temperature, away from a heat source, away from light and humidity. The aim is to prevent your skis from suffering from temperature variations over time.

Under these conditions, you shouldn't have any unpleasant surprises when you take your skis out next winter.

In principle, maintenance at the beginning and end of the season is sufficient to keep your cross-country skis in good condition. But depending on the snow conditions and how often they are used, they may need to be waxed or sharpened in the middle of the season. Do not hesitate to contact a specialised shop in case of doubt and for personal advice.

Maintaining your cross-country skis and sports equipment will extend their life and reduce the impact on the planet (and your wallet). Enjoy your snowy cross-country tours!

Our cross-country ski care guide



Dancer, hiker and former judoka, I’m a big Fit’Ballet enthusiast, an activity that combines fitness and classic dance. I love giving you my tips to help you with your sporting activities!


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