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Let the Natural Handyman help you to loosen up with WD-40® !


WD-40 is a product produced by the WD-40 Company.

It is a lubricant of both legend and myth. Amazingly enough, the ancient Egyptians used an early release of WD-40 to grease the rollers used to move those massive blocks of stone to build the pyramids!! Really! Well... possibly?  Actually, it was never meant to be a lubricant, but rather a "protectant" to protect metal parts from corrosion.  However, "in the wild" its uses have grown!

WD-40 is one of those products that does it all... sort of!

Well, at least the company would like you to think so. It is claimed to be a cleaner, a protector, a penetrating oil, and, of course, a lubricant. Based on my experience, I would agree with these claims for the most part, with a few caveats...

  • WD-40 has solvent abilities and can be used to remove many types of gummy adhesives, road tar, tapes, grease and oil stains.  The company recommends using WD-40 to help remove oil stains from garage floors... a difficult task!  However, do not clean anything with WD-40 that you do not also wish to also lubricate... unless you plan to wash, wipe or launder the WD-40 completely off.
  • Because WD-40 acts as a solvent, it should not be used where removal of grease is an issue, such as on bicycle chains or around exposed bearings of any type or it may damage the grease and cause premature wear!
  • WD-40 has a slight yellowish-brown color and can stain fabrics.  (So much for stain removal.)  Any fabric treated with or touched by WD-40 should be laundered.
  • WD-40 does have a lingering odor which some of my clients have found to be objectionable. This is less of a problem in outdoor applications, where WD-40 really shines!  As a lubricant indoors, I use silicone spray more frequently since it has less odor and, frankly, is a superior spray-on lubricant!
  • Outside, I use WD-40 on rusty parts or seized up hinges, locks, some automotive applications, etc. I use silicone on non-rusted metal and some automotive applications where I don't really want to clean and lubricate, just lubricate or protect.
  • Sometimes, adding additional lubricant can only exacerbate a problem, such as a lockset that has is gummed-up by old, stiff grease. I would recommend using a solvent, such as a spray electronic parts cleaner, in these situations rather than WD-40. WD-40 is not a "fine" lubricant and is not intended for delicate mechanisms.
  • WD-40 is the spray lubricant of choice when you have to handle the lubricated parts... silicone is a bummer to get on your hands... it just doesn't wash off!!
  • Don't use WD-40 on electrical connections, because it may leave a residue that will further gum things up!! Use alcohol or a spray electronic parts cleaner, available at most hardware stores or Radio Shack.
  • BE CAREFUL!  There are a few (to put it politely) insane people (okay, not so polite) suggesting that WD-40 is safe to apply to the skin or even ingest!  WD-40 may work a few miracles but it is not a medicine!  If you don't believe me, click HERE to read the MSDS, the official Material Safety Data Sheet for WD-40.  (You need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.)

Want more specifics on maintaining outdoor tools with WD-40?  Click HERE!

About the company...

In 1952, the Rocket Chemical Company produced rust resisting and rust removing products for metal parts and tools. WD-40 was originally developed for Convair, a defense contractor, in 1953 for the protection of metal missile skins in the aerospace industry.

The "WD" in WD-40 means "water displacement".  By displacing water and adhering strongly to a metal surface, rust and corrosion are prevented.  The "40" memorializes forever that it took 40 attempts to come up with the correct formulation that was both stable at a wide range of temperatures and atmospheric conditions.  When at first you don't succeed, try and try again... at least 40 times!

If you would like to contact the company, for better or for worse, here are their vital statistics:

1061 Cudahy Pl., San Diego, CA 92110
Phone Number: (619) 275-1400
Fax Number: (619) 275-5823

And, of course... THE WD-40 BOOK

In 1997, Tim Nyberg and Jim Berg wrote a homage to what they lovingly label "the only other tool you need in your toolbox" (besides duct tape)... WD-40.   If you want to know more about WD-40 than you ever thought you needed to know, this is the book for you!  We have it currently available in our bookshop.  Click HERE for details.