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We’ve always avoided 3-in-One oil because of reports that it gums up and is usually the incorrect oil for any given purpose.  Some people love it though, ranking it up there with duct tape and WD-40, and most everyone seems to have a can in the house no matter what they think of it.

So what do you all think: Hot or Not?  Let us know in comments.

3-IN-ONE [WD-40]


36 Responses to Hot or Not? 3-in-One Oil

  1. BigEdJr says:

    If it isn’t the right thing, I would like to know what is… I started using it since I read on here about all the bad things of WD-40…

  2. truenorthern says:

    IMHO, it’s not perfect for everything but good enough for some things, handy to have around.
    scissors, toys, hinges,…
    back in the day my dad and granddad, and most everyone else had a oil can with light oil for general use around the shop/garage and a can of 3-1 oil for around the house.

  3. BC says:

    I’ve never used it. Ever. Squeaky hinges get PAM, car doors get white lithium, sliding things get 30-weight.

  4. BC says:

    Oh yeah, that bathroom fan with crappy bearings got PAM too, until I remodel it this spring.

  5. Chuck says:

    Yeah, I’d say warm at best. In general, silicone is a better all in one as it doesn’t degrade rubber/plastic, etc. Some plain old Hoppe’s gun oil works for everything metal.

  6. Adam says:

    I keep a can in the truck, along with a can of WD-40, and white lithium spray. The 3-n-1 is great for hinges, locks, and misc items. While there may be better stuff, it’s convenient, an cheap.

  7. K says:

    what’s the best thing to put on rusty bolts and such in and around the engine of a car? i have a civic that has a lot of rusted bolt tops, and am wondering what would keep it from getting worse…thanks…

  8. Old Donn says:

    Got a can in the tool chest, while it’s not my 1st choice it ain’t bad. Biggest problem? It stinks.

  9. Hot – I have used it as an Air Tool lubricant for years. They are all still running, even the HF ones. Must work or be my only bit of dumb luck.

  10. Brice says:

    Hot, but I use Zoom oil, better applicator. It’s really just SAE 20 weight non-detergent oil….

  11. kif says:

    “New Shimmer is a floor wax AND a dessert topping!”

    Not. Generally speaking, multi-purpose often means no purpose. Remember when Hank Hill had a drawer especially for various adhesives? The same thought that you would put into an adhesive should be put into lubricants. Select your lubricants thoughtfully, as you would a fine single malt or wine. Only a Philistine would buy a grocery store lube.

  12. Toolaremia says:

    Then I, Sir, am a Philistine. 🙂

    Hot for table-top steam engines. Never gummed-up. does stink. I use it as cologne — attracts the right kind of girls. ;-D

  13. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    “Select your lubricants thoughtfully, as you would a fine single malt or wine. ”

    I’m telling that one to the gf.

    I was going to go with “Hot” but then I thought about all the different lubricants I have in the tickle trunk (My “assorted tools” box) between hoppes gun oil, Paintball marker oil, white lithium grease, and silicone spray. I use the WD40 for general crap, and this stuff just sits, like the redheaded stepchild of my lubricants. under the tap and die set…

  14. JB says:

    Will free up a gummy Sturmey Archer hub in no time.

    • CP says:

      JB, I hope it frees up a sturmey archer hub but it hasn’t yet and its been sitting for a week. I’ve used it on my bicycles for years but now I have a problem.. The newer containers are plastic instead of metal and after the first use they leak. I purchased a second bottle thinking the first time was just a rare mishap but this one is doing the same thing! Any suggestions anyone. And no-I’ve always been careful handling the container.

  15. Kurt says:

    Hot, just the thing to lubricate the shafts of your 1/96 scale model battleship when mixed with a little white grease. I use it around the shop to lubricate the screws of my lathe and mill. I might be weird, but I kinda like the smell.

  16. Shopmonger says:

    Hot, although I don’t use it…

    I use Marvel MO….. but same general idea.

    I like the aplicator on the 3-1

    just like a zippo light fluid filler can,,,,, which by the way can be repurposed to apply any oil…..

  17. Kyle says:

    Not. I am now the second generation owner of the same can of the 3 in one 1…

    PB Blaster is the best thing for rusty parts just short of a torch. You’ll get rid of the WD-40 if you try the blaster on really bad rust.

  18. Captain Obvious says:

    NOT: I’ve used the “electric motor” version on a couple of electric motors, and they invariably stopped working: whatever the oil is, it turns to some solid reliably.

    It is *possible* that I hadn’t cleaned ’em out enough, it is *possible* that the cleaning solvents I used were the culprit, but I don’t think so.

    Nowadays I use motor oil, and my shop-vac, unlike the fans I tried “fixing” with 3-in-1 for electric motors, still runs ( what’s with Shop Vac making their motors so damn difficult to maintain? )

    It does smell aweful, though…

    I simply don’t trust ’em, now.

  19. Mike lee says:

    Hot! I have been using this stuff for years and the bottle will last you for years too.

  20. David Bryan says:

    Well, the oil’s just oil, but I love those old metal cans. I’m also partial to Marvel Mystery Oil. I drank a little of it once, in a beer, sort of accidentally, and it wasn’t so bad. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

  21. Seth says:

    I use it as a lubricant for tapping, drilling, and latheing; but I can’t compare it to a more specialized cutting fluid, cause I’ve never tried the others. Hasn’t done be wrong yet.

  22. AggieMike says:

    Hot, I use it as a oil on my oilstone when i sharpen my pocket knives to keep the stone from clogging.

  23. FixUpper says:

    If you read the MSDS, the smell is put in on purpose as a “proprietary ingredient”, otherwise it is just plain 10 wt. mineral oil, which doesn’t smell much. Like most folks, I have used it over the years because it was the only one available (any competing brands out there?). But invariably it gums up. For hinges, this oil is the worst (makes hinges rust faster)! Use grease instead for hinge pins. OK for wiping, not for lubricating. It gummed up my blower motors and fan bearings. The correct oil, for these applications, should be SAE 20 non detergent oil, which is SUPER HARD to find retail. Zoom spout oils are 10 wt, not 20! Any savy business types out there???

  24. Tommy says:

    Im a bicycle enthusiast and have tried just about every bike lube out there.
    I recently gave “Old Standby” a shot and found it just as good as some of these specialty lubes. Tri Flow is slightly better but not that much to make a fuss over. With 3 in one you have to make sure to wipe the excess, then again you have to do the same thing with any lube except a dry lube. Save $$ and just get the original, it won’t let you down. Also, Bar & Chain oil is good for bike chains as well !

  25. Enginear says:

    I use it for lubing the lunar wainshafts of turbo encabulators to prevent side fumbling. It also works great on hydrocoptic marzelvanes, milfer trunnions, and reciprocating dingle arms.

  26. MARTIN says:

    My opinion is that for scissors, sewing machines and other domestic uses no other oil is better that 3-in-one. of course is not everthing use oil !!!!! the manufacturer of this oil never says in the container that is an oil for everything !!! ,,,
    logical that there are things that need special oils, if you put any type of oil into something that requires special oils,!!!! do not blame the manufacturer of oils like (3 -in -one ,,, for your personal mistakes …

    • Crumeniferus says:

      Looks like you used it to over-lubricate your !, and . keys. 😉
      I think I’ll give it a miss myself.

  27. Paul says:

    I have tried everything in the world on fan motors, and 3-in-one still runs longer before gumming up.

  28. Mitch says:

    Paul, 3-in-One makes a specific oil for motors. Have you tried that?

  29. Well, it’s not a magic elixir – what is your desired use?

    WD-40 for example is a water displacing semi-penetrant, with oiliness, whereas Liquid Wrench is IIRC less oily.

    I’d use 3-in-1 OIL (they now have other products) for something that is clean but needs light lubrication, and is not out in the rain. Sewing machines for example.

    OTOH, bicycles I’d have to think about, WD40 may be better for cables and such, grease in bearings.

    If preventing corrosion between non-moving parts is the purpose, I’d consider LPS-3.

  30. Beware of people who bash a product with exaggeration and mis-representation.

    3-in-1 oil claims to be a lubricant but also a penetrant, so probably is not straight oil – it is a quite light oil, no smell from a 25-year-old can. (Its rust prevention claim comes both from the fact that an oil coating on parts prevents rust, and apparently an added rust inhibitor.) I’ve never noticed anything but oiliness about it. Note that the 3-in-1 name is now on other products that differ from the classic/original – including penetrants and solvents, and the company also makes WD-40. Beware too of a product called “Tri-Flow Lubricant” which has solvent in it per their web site, and probably a penetrant too given their recommended uses, the name could be confused with “3-in-1”.

    WD-40 is a Water-Displacing penetrant with some lubricating qualities, it and Liquid Wrench are mostly penetrants, much less oily than class 3-in-1 oil, and smelly.

    Other things are more in the direction of solvents/de-greasers.

    Beyond ignorance is deliberate bashing of a competitor, I’ve seen that by olive oil nuts against Canola oil.

    Some people are like the worst of religionists, they’d kill others for blasphemy. (Some of the worst fights are between versions of the same basic religion, such as Sunnis versus Shia, and Anglican versus Catholic.)

  31. I’m told that Singer oil is as light or lighter than 3-in-1. That’s what Singer recommended a century ago, with use of kerosene if machine had been sitting for a long time, then after running it a bit Singer oil again.

    Some elixers like WD-40 and Liquid Wrench are penetrants with some lubricating ability, to get parts moving. Fine then for levers and such, not for journal bearings nor ball/roller bearings.

    As for gumming up, anything eventually will solidify due volatile constituents evaporating, I suppose running hot will greatly accelerate that, otherwise I don’t understand why people say 3-in-1 will gum up.

    3-in-1’s Motor Oil is SAE 20, for 1/4 HP and up.

    Old sewing machines may indeed need SAE 10, for newer ones check the user manual.

    You also have to recognize the difference between cleaning out a joint – such as by water-displacing penetrant, and lubricating it afterward – Singer’s old procedure. Perhaps tricky for things used outdoors in rain, such as a bicyle.

    BTW, a new can of 3-in-1 Multi-Purpose Oil, the classic that 25 years ago was called Household Oil, has only a little smell.

    OTOH, Triflow’s specs for their _Lubricant_ say it contains solvent.

  32. I have now made a quick comparison of Singer lubricating oil and 3-in-1 lubricating oil, finding they are quite similar.

    I felt and smelled from cans produced roughly two or three decades ago (Singer’s was plastic bottle, 3-in-1 the traditional can labeled Household Oil).

    Singer’s oil may be a bit thinner and lighter in colour, but not by much.

  33. Mark says:

    Seth said “I use it as a lubricant for tapping, drilling, and latheing; but I can’t compare it to a more specialized cutting fluid, cause I’ve never tried the others.”
    BAD idea! Real cutting oil (the heavy duty version) contains sulfur and god knows what else. It is very dark brown, and smells quite different from “normal” oil. The additives provide extra lubrication at high temperatures and extreme pressures (i.e., at the edge of any metal-cutting tool), and the added effectiveness is quite noticeable in extended tool life.
    I use this for almost all of my work on cutting steel, SST, cast iron, any hard metal; lathe, mill, hacksaw.
    On my bandsaw I use a water-based oil with a circulating pump to flood the cut continuously, or a cutting wax when I can’t use the pump.
    A very light, thin, cutting oil is recommended for tapping aluminum, however, and I believe this is to prevent chips building up in between the flutes and jamming the tap. It also works well with a hacksaw.

    Sears sells the dark cutting oil in a pint container, I believe. Try it out; I doubt you’ll go back to other oils for drilling & cutting ferrous metals.

  34. Anthony Daugherty says:

    3 in ONE is FANTASTIC for what is made for, and that is most everything in a normal household! It is great for hinges, locks, tools, electrical devices, and bicycles! I raced bicycles for years, there are plenty of specialty lubricants that cost more (I like White Lightning it cleans and lubes without as much mess) and work great as well, but they don’t necessarily do any better. As with most things you need to use it correctly, apply it and wipe of excess and you won’t have any gumming. If I had to choose one lubricant it would be 3 in ONE!

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