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If you believe the hype, WD-40’s good for everything except curing cancer.  And regardless of what unkind words you might have about it, we’d be willing to bet you’ve got a can in the garage somewhere.

But with that in mind — is it still worth keeping in the shop?  We’ve found far better penetrants, and there are better lubricants available for almost any special purpose.  On the other hand, isn’t it handy to have a general-purpose lubricant around?

What say you?  Let us know in comments.

 

57 Responses to Hot or Not? WD-40

  1. MikeR says:

    I haven’t had WD40 around since I found PB Blaster. I would say it was hot, but isn’t anymore.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    MikeR: So what do you use for a GP lubricant?

  3. Randy says:

    Hot. It is good at breaking rusty stuff free, but I rarely use it for that. Not the best lubricant, but does have some lube value. It is an excellent cleaning solvent/surface lube. Not what I would put on a rotating bearing, but is lightly oily once the solvent evaporates. For example, I use it to clean sap off of my tree loppers and hedge clippers, make operation smoother, and provide some rust protection. It makes rust removal easier when using a wire brush. I use it in general metal cleaning applications all the time. Takes sap off of my saw blades after cutting pine. Works great for gun cleaning as long as you don’t just spray and leave it. Wipe it off to get the excess oil and suspended powder residue. I also use it to clean wax and crud out of reloading dies.

  4. SuperJdynamite says:

    I don’t have a can, just a couple of the pens. They work well for lubing my Leatherman without simultaneously lubricating everything in a five foot radius. I also oil the joints in my hand tools (needle nose plyers, diagonal cutters, etc).

  5. Jeff T says:

    I used to use WD40 for everything since I was a teenager.
    Now, I don’t really use it for anything. These are what I use:
    Penetrant – PB blaster
    Lubricant – 3-in-1 or whatever the manufacturer of said product requires
    Degreaser, sap, blade cleaner, etc. – “Get-off” adhesive/goop remover – now that stuff is awesome and doesn’t screw up any surfaces and will remove any adhesive or grease. You should do a H or N on that stuff – I use it all the time for everything now.

    Take some old computer muffin fan with crappy bearing noise. put some WD40 on it and run it. No different in a week. Then, put some 3-in-1 on it, it will be quiet for a really long time, if it’s in halfway decent shape.

  6. bill says:

    to the best of my knawledge it doesnt claim to be a lubricant, just a petroleum distillate.

  7. MikeR says:

    Chuck: I guess I’d use the Blaster. Can you think of an application where WD40 would work better?

  8. nrChris says:

    Certainly gets my vote in the hot category. I am almost a little shocked to hear that this would even be questionable. Not because of anything other than the fact that everywhere I have lived there has been a can or two of the stuff.

    I do really dislike the smell though. (Not enough to negate my “hot” vote.)

  9. Henry says:

    The best thing about WD 40 is that it is ubiquitous and, while it does nothing very well, it does most everything. It is a household name, and everyone knows that you can use it to make that hinge stop squeaking or help return some gloss and rust resistance to a pair of garden clippers. Hot! Why not!

    I have a friend who is vehemently against the use of WD 40. He’s a real demanding old-fashoned mechanical engineer, so the part about WD 40 doing nothing well really rules it out for him. He says that WD stands for Water Displacer, the purpose WD 40 was developed for… not lubrication or cleaning, but just for getting water out and something oily and non-corossive in. Makes pretty good sense.

  10. Roscoe says:

    I have a few cans of WD-40 stashed everywhere and like it because it’s goods for lots of different things. That being said, I know it’s less than ideal for a lot of applications. IF 3-in-1 Oil was available in aerosol cans, I’d carry it instead. Are you listening 3-in-1 manufacturer? You’ve got a better product, but the application isn’t always convenient.

  11. Scott says:

    Hot. While some other products perform better at the same one or two of the many tasks that WD-40 can do, WD-40 is more of the “swiss army knife” lubricant / cleaner.

  12. Paul says:

    Not Hot. I’m not even sure if WD-40 can actually be called a lubricant. Isn’t it like aerosol kerosene or something? I would have to rank it last in all the penetrating oils I have used. Behind Liquid Stench (Wrench) or PB Blaster. If I was desperate I’d sooner pour gasoline on something than use WD-40.

    As far as a GP lubricant I use whatever motor oil I have around in a variety of oilers. I have some moly chain lube that I use from time to time, and I like lithium, and wheel bearing grease too. I guess it depends on what I’m lubing what I use.

  13. Hank says:

    Hot, I guess. WD 40 is a water displacement and got it’s name from the successful 40th test run, I read. It claims to do many things that I will never test them on, but, I use it for a quick loosener, quite lube, etc. It’s a Brand, so most everyone has used it and you don’t have to explain too much if you have a helper. Easy to find in a pinch. I agree that it appears to be able to do several things about half-ass. Most of the time, if you acknowledge that, then all things are fine.

    Most people do not have a need for PB Blaster. You pros do, and I respect that. 3 in 1 is good, and I wish it were an aerosol also. But, there are many products out there that are poorly packaged, not promoted, undersold, and cause as much pain as pleasure. WD 40 is an acceptable, limited use product.

  14. eschoendorff says:

    Eh… I haven’t used WD 40 since I discovered CorrosionX. http://www.corrosionx.com

  15. TimG says:

    NOT.

    I agree with all the comments above about there being better products for lubricating. I use FluidFilm for pretty much all my ‘lubing’. It is a great rust-prevention product and creeps into the crevices. The best part ist that it STAYS put. Doesn’t evaporate off quickly like WD.

    I do have a tiny can of WD in my glove box for drying out spark plug wires and distributer caps in a pinch (after getting stranded JUST because there was some moisture in the dist cap).

    Tim

  16. fabmandan says:

    Hot.
    It is the best lube I have found for bending roll bar tubing. It’s just slick enough and wipes off easily. It’s also great for removing light surface rust.

  17. John says:

    Hot, as an all purpose lubricant, etc. For what it is, it does a variety of things well enough for most applications. AND, recently, I had a 12 oz can half full of lubricant and no propellant. I emailed the manufacturer and they sent me a replacement can and a coupon for a stick. A company that stands behind their products so well gets extra points.

  18. Eli says:

    It may not be the best, but I’ve always had it. Great for when you run your skateboard thru a puddle. Hit all the wheels, otherwise the bearings will freeze. Great for spraying down the garden shears, or a sap covered pruning saw. Hit a muddy shovel with it and the mud drops off the next time you use it. Same with dirt bikes, spray them when you put them away and wipe them down before the ride. Locks in general are a no-no. I’d say hot. Silicone and three in one a great too. Hard to divide up this category, if there’s even one thing you use it for a lot. I DO like the smell, just for the record (even my wife does). It does work well for me as a penetrant, but you have to put it on there and WALK AWAY.

  19. sizod says:

    I use it for washing my hands after working on my truck, its gets of all the grease then you can finish by washing you hands with a normal hand soap. It is also really good for cleaning old vinyl records before playing them, which is perfect if you have a thrift store find that you want to make into an MP3 or sample.

  20. James B says:

    Warm

    FabManDan is on the right track with this WD40 stuff as a temporary lubricant. I like it for drilling thick metal. It helps the chips slide up the drill flutes and conducts some heat away from the end of the drill bit. I brush it off the drill bit with a paintbrush and wipe the metal with a cloth after.

    I does kinda stink, but not as bad as PB blaster. Besides penetrating bolt threads, the PB smell penetrates up to the part of my house that is over the garage. I’ll hit a bolt with the torch before squirting that stuff indoors again.

  21. Don says:

    I used to use WD-40 for cleaning my hads after spraying ruber/solvent waterproofing compound onto foundation walls. It was easier than kerosen. I use it now for polishing my outdoor wood furnaces but I’m sure there is something that would do the same thing for less money. Kerosen? I havn’t tried anything else yet but I’m open to suggestions. Does anyone know of a good spryable oil that doesn’t make too much mess and leaves metal pretty and sparly? Let me know through my web site. Thanks

  22. BJN says:

    Hot for my high end photographic tripod’s ballhead. The “WD” in the name comes from “water displacement”. A super thin coating of WD-40 prevents freezing condensation from sticking to the ball mechanism in cold temperatures.

    There are lots of other lubes I use for other purposes. WD-40 still does some jobs better than anything else.

  23. Cybergibbons says:

    I’d vote it hot. Mainly because Liquid Wrench and all the others are quite hard to find in the UK and WD40 is ubiquitous. Also, there was this time that got seriously sprayed in fuel oil, and the only thing that would get it off was WD40. There was no way I was spraying my head with normal diesel oil.

  24. Steve says:

    Hot.

    It’s been in every shop I’ve ever been in and does a few things pretty well. It’s easier to find than some of the specialty lubricants. I don;t thnk it should be aN either/or situation, keep some wd-40 AND whatever product you need for a specific task you perform.

    More tools = More gooder.

  25. Zach says:

    It is passable as a parts cleaner, and I use it for breaking things down, but I would NEVER, EVER trust it for lubrication on something important – I like stuff with PTFE, especially Slick-50 1-lube. Try it and you might be amazed at how muck better it is than WD-40. I have this old window fan from the 60’s that is built like a tank – machine oil or WD-40 in the oil holes keep it running sqeak-free for a week or so, but 1-lube makes it run smooth all summer. Lube technology has made great strides since WD-40…

  26. Stuart says:

    Don, for shining up metal with a protective film, I really like Bostich Table Saw Spray (not the official name) available at HD. It really makes sliding things, slide quite well without being oily or greasy. It helps prevent corrosion on your tools especially cast iron. Spray it on, wait, rub off excess if you want. It does need to be renewed periodically though.

  27. Meico says:

    Hot.

    I once watched a friends father try to fix a ‘sticky’ shotgun by useing wd-40, but the next round he fired acted more like a flamethrower than anything. The upshot was that the duck was half cooked when we got it…

  28. Frank says:

    Best thing to remove adhesive, sap, etc without damaging the surface beneath. I’ve used it on everything from the car to removing those obnoxious Intel inside stickers off a laptop case, with no damage at all.

  29. Rick says:

    Interestingly enough – those of you who prefer 3-in-one for your lubrication needs might know that it is also a WD-40 brand..
    http://www.wd40.com/Brands/3in1.cfm

  30. DC says:

    Of course the WD (Water Displacement) name recalls a often heard ‘classic’ application: spray it in ignition wires when your car won’t start in damp weather. I have never needed to try this, fortunately, so I have no idea how well it works.

    It is a penetrant, but it does have a litle residual oil. You can see it if you put some in a glass, as the oil will separate out. My experience is that if you really need any oil left behind, WD40 is not that good. You will be spraying it on again before too long.

    I am going to try PB Blaster the next time I am in a store that carries it – herad that it works several times now. I have used Liquid Wrench in the past, and it works OK, but the smell is god-awful.

  31. Evan N. says:

    Gotta say that I’ll always have WD-40 on hand. I’ve learned that it doesn’t work too well as a penetrant, (especially on stuck brake drums; before I knew better I used a ton of WD before I gave up on it) so I’ll have something else for that. Doesn’t lubricate long either, I’ll have something around for that. I use it to clean my tools when I’m done with them, I just spray it on a rag and wipe the tools with that rag. Leaves enough oil on there to shine, cuts the grease, and keep rust away until I use the tool again. So it gets a “hot” from me. I also am going to get some PB Blaster, I think Liquid Wrench smells terrible, and the whole “fatal if inhaled” thing is never good …

  32. Kurt says:

    The only use I have for WD-40 is a squirt on my fishing lures. It’s excellent on a jig and it really does work. Have bagged many strippers with WD-40 while others fishing the same lure came up empty handed.

  33. ambush27 says:

    Hot,

    Its mostly good for cleaning things.

  34. jacks says:

    Hot. Definitely. There are other products that work more efficiently for certain things, but you can’t deny how well WD-40 works for the ‘everything else’ category.

    I’ve got cans stashed pretty much everywhere. There’s a mini can in my electrical toolkit, several in the garage and a can in every mobile toolbox I own. There’s probably two or more in each of my cars.

    It’s been great stuff ever since I was a kid. I don’t know why, but the smell is particularly addicting.

  35. Jim H says:

    Quite warm.

    Not necessarily the best at anything except displacing water, but good enough to keep me from having to keep a lot of other stuff around. And it’s easy to find. It would take a certain amount of research to locate a place that sells PB Blaster around here – probably not a lot of research but I’ve never needed to take the trouble.

    If I need better a spray lubricant, I use Tri-Flo.

  36. dewan says:

    The best penetrating oil is Kroil, but it’s hard to get. For a light oil that also penetrates pretty well, try Marvel Mystery Oil. It’s available in car parts stores and it’s got a great name.

  37. eddie says:

    I’ work in a industrial setting and kroil is the only thing used in that plant by everyone. WD-40 mostly fushes out particles, dirt, dust, things like that.

  38. john s says:

    Not! The joke around work is: WD40 fixes a trouble call today and gives you an over time call back tomorrow. What the boss saves in buying WD40 is more than spent on mechanic’s wages. If you like tinkering with and cleaning the sticky WD40 residue off things, with more WD40, over and over and don’t mind the strong smell, go ahead and spray it on everything. My choice is LPS-1, 2 or 3 and thanks boss for all the truck payments.

  39. derevaun says:

    Not! It’s like Rain-X: problem solved for awhile, but soon it’s worse than untreated.

    It forces existing lubricants off their parts, then evaporates leaving the works too dry. For some jobs that may be what’s needed, but if there are moving parts that need some lubricant on them, WD-40 can lead to damage. Likewise 3-in1 changes its consistency over time and often leaves the situation worse than the original problems.

    It’s usually best to clean parts with mineral spirits, which evaporate faster and more thoroughly. There’s a best weight of lube, from ultralight oil to grease, for a long term solution.

  40. jlimbrick says:

    I have been told that wd-40 was developed in san diego by two aerospace engineers who worked for general dynamics and was to be used to wash down drone missle parts that were made by gen. dynamics. the company was not interested in this product and these two guys formed wd-40 company. I have found a multitude of uses for wd40 .great bug killer. spray a little in a balky chain saw or other hard to start motor and it fires right off , adhesive remover and a zillion other things , however i prefer a product called tri-flo with teflon to free up and keep things sliding freely it also displaces water nicely.

  41. Matt says:

    NOT but it shines up cheesey brass light fixtures in the bathroom, the metal trim around the shower door, and it does a good job on my stainless steel trash cans.

  42. Scott says:

    My workshop is in a slightly leaky shed in a very humid area. I use WD-40 to spray down my tools when I’m not going to use them for a while so that they’re not covered in rust when I get back to them. I guess that’s the water displacement use. If anyone knows of something better for this, I’d like to hear about it, but WD-40 has been great so far.

  43. Tom says:

    Dirt Bike Magazine did a test of various motorcycle chain lubes sometime in the ’80s. It was a decent setup w/ 2 small diameter gears and a short length of 520 chain (no o ring).

    WD-40 actually finished below running the chain dry, w/o any lube.

    I use silicone to lube cables. WD will ruin teflon cables by making them swell.

    I’ll use to unstick or clean stuff. It’s fun as a flame thrower 🙂 but I don’t recommend it.

    Silicone is better for most light lube I need. A wax based chain lube that dries. When you’re in dust/dirt/mud, anything that stays wet turns into an abrasive slurry.

  44. Bryon says:

    1) I use it as a “pre-lube” penetrant. Spray it a joint and then follow with 3-in-1 and it allows the heavier oil to penetrate better.

    2) Spray into a lighter flame to kill wasps.

    3) I like the smell. (of the WD, not the burnt wasps)

  45. The WD-40 and a lighter – well not a lighter, use a map gas torch with pushbutton ignition, cause you’re a TOOLMAN – is a GREAT way to get rid of cobwebs. You can clear a whole basement in 10 minutes. Just keep a big dry towel and a fire extinguisher around in case things get out of hand.

  46. j says:

    WD’s okay for a quick spritz and cleaning stuff, LPS-1 is better but I can never find it anywhere. Sewing machine oil is clear & doesn’t leave & has a ‘zoom spout’ so you can pull out the capped tube & get a squirt where it’s needed.

  47. Old Donn says:

    Is WD perfect? No. Are there newer, more use-specific products? Of course. A crescent wrench isn’t perfect either, but we’ve all got one. WD’s the same. It’s versatility makes up for many of it’s shortcomings.

  48. david says:

    lukewarm,seems they have taken all the volatile chemicals out of it. i cannot”bump start” engines with it anymore.
    last 10 years or so,i have used Deep Creep,great light oil,penetrant ,and will still start an engine (better alternative to Ether because of its lube properties.
    just my $.02
    http://www.seafoamsales.com/deepCreepTech.htm

  49. Andrew says:

    CorrosionX is the Best. Nothing beats it

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  51. Call me crazy, but modifying toy guns to make them shoot better is one of my hobbies. WD40 is terrible for doing things like greasing the mech, and cleaning the barrel from the inside. Vaseline works a treat.

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  54. Squidwelder says:

    WD40 does everything, but it doesn’t do one thing really good, at least in my experience. It’s a good tie-over until I can get the right lube, and if I don’t have a better penetrating oil, it usually does the trick. It also makes for half-decent rust protection, and it’s relatively heap and very easy to find.

  55. mike says:

    Kroil…….The Oil that Creeps

  56. seraph037 says:

    ive noticed alot of people wanting the manufacturer of 3in1 oil to make an aeresol product…i guess they dont realize that they are the same company that makes wd40? next time you see a can of 3in1, look at the back of the label. i do realize that 3in1 is loads better than wd40 though. oh, and i do love the smell of wd40, not sure why, but its great.

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