Got a Problem? Grab the WD-40

It’s not new. The blue and yellow can is about as familiar as anything I remember from my childhood. Banished to a shelf in the garage, I assumed WD-40® was an automotive thing. Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is amazing. And cheap.

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My recommendation is to let the product do its work then remove it. Some say that a build-up of WD-40 can cause its own sticky mess over time. So here’s the deal: Use it then remove it.

WD-40 is a petroleum-based product (so is Vaseline). WD-40 comes in a tiny 3-oz aerosol can, larger 16-oz. or by the gallon, which you can pour into your own spray bottle. While the aerosol propellant is flammable, the product itself is harmless to humans, according to the manufacturer.

WD-40 gets things unstuck and a lot more. I know. I go through it like it’s water.  But don’t worry. It’s cheap. I bought an 8-ounce can for $1.71 at Home Depot.

IF IT’S MELTED …

Have you ever opened the dryer to find a red crayon has ruined the entire load? The folks at Crayola offer this remedy for fresh heat-set crayon stains. 

1. Place the stained surface down on a pad of paper towels.

2. Spray with WD-40, let stand a few minutes, turn fabric over and spray the other side.

3. Apply liquid dishwashing detergent and work into the stained area, replacing toweling as it absorbs the stain.

4. Wash in hot water with laundry detergent and Clorox 2 or Biz for about 12 minutes (use “Heavy Soiled” setting if there is no minute timer on your machine) and rinse in warm water.

5. Be sure to clean the drum of your dryer to remove any remaining wax residue. Spray a soft cloth with WD-40, and wipe the drum. Run a load of dry rags through a dry cycle.

IF IT’S STICKY …

WD-40 removes stickers and adhesives from glass, plastic, countertops and containers. Removes chewing gum, tar and Silly Putty from most surfaces. Spray, wait and wipe. Use WD-40 to clean the tracks in sliding windows to make them glide (spray on, then wipe off). Spray a little WD-40 to lubricate sticky drawers. Give a snow shovel a spray to combat sticky snow.

IF IT’S STUCK…

Zipper stuck? Loosen it with WD-40. A quick shot will help untangle jewelry chains and unfreeze door hinges. Spray on glass objects that are stuck together to separate them without breaking.

Clean the stuck walking foot on your sewing machine. Use it to free stuck bolts, lug nuts and hose ends that won’t budge, to loosen tight Lego blocks and to make those window shades roll smoothly. Make hangers glide over a clothes rod by spraying WD-40 onto a cloth and applying it to the rod.

IF IT’S GRUNGY…

Removes tar, doggie-doo and scuff marks from shoes. WD-40 cleans filthy guitar strings. Removes the grime from the barbecue grill.

You know that build-up on your favorite pair of scissors? Hit it with WD-40 to make them like new again. It removes the grime and scum from fiberglass showers like a dream.

WD-40 removes the gunk from a plastic dish drainer and the sink’s handheld spray nozzle, too. It cleans and protects brass and silver from tarnishing. 

IF IT’S SQUEAKY …

If it squeaks, WD-40’s likely the solution. It keeps wicker chairs, kids’ swings, rocking chairs, bed springs and noisy hinges from squeaking. It will quiet your trash compactor, too. Use it to silence that squeaky weather vane, car strut mounts and windshield wipers.

IF IT’S PESKY …

WD-40 keeps flies off cows and pigeons off balconies (they hate the smell). Spray WD-40 around flower beds to gently send cats away.

Spray WD-40 along the bottom of chain-link fences that surround gardens to repel rabbits and rodents and on wire tomato plant cages to keep insects away. WD-40 removes dead insects from a car’s front grill, radiator and windshield.

IF IT’S SCRATCHED …

WD-40 cleans, restores and camouflages scratches on ceramic and marble floors. It gives wood that “just-waxed” sheen without making it slippery. It hides small scratches on woodwork.

IF IT’S STAINED …

WD-40 cleans piano keys, removes Kool-Aid and tomato stains from carpet and fabric. It removes lipstick from anything, makes those oil stains on the concrete driveway disappear and pulls hair dye out of your towels.

IF IT’S RUSTY …

WD-40 will keep your fishing reels, lures and flies rust- and gunk-free. Curiously, many fishermen report that spraying WD-40 on fishing lures actually attracts fish.

WD-40 removes and prevents rust on anything made of metal. It removes and prevents rust from forming in washing machines, on shower heads and garden tools. You know those rust stains on your tub and shower? Those terra cotta pots that oxidize?

You know the routine: WD-40!

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cheryl Norton Sewell

    Pesky cows on my balcony!!! Now I have the answer. Love your column. Thanks!

    • Portia

      I read it that way the first time too! lol

    • pef

      cows???

  • K. Wallace

    On the wD40..lots of good ideas, but it is actually illegal to use it on fishing lures..here in Idaho anyway…

    • Pidgie

      Why is that K.? Just curious and I’m an Idaho girl too. Kuna to be specific.

      • ABC

        Petroleum product.

  • R. Reed

    I use WD 40 to clean my stainless steel appliances. It resists finger prints too. just spray and wipe off.

  • Ed

    WD 40 is great for a number of things. The stainless steel polish suggestion below is spot on. As a former carpet cleaner, I strongly suggest no one take the advise to use it on carpet. You may get rid of the original stain but you will soon get a new one in that spot. The residue it leaves will attract more dirt (this is true even with some commercially available spot cleaners). As much as I love WD 40, I’ve found PB blaster to be much better at freeing rusted objects. The difference between the two with rusted items is night and day.

  • ABC

    WD40 may do all the things mentioned, but if I used it for all those things, my house would smell like a refinery, plus, my soil would be polluted. Most of these uses are overkill….I mean, really, glasses stuck together? (run warm water over the outer one, it makes it expand…fill the inner one with cold if that’s not enough) Fiberglass showers? (why not use the homemade, non-toxic mixture you recommended of half Dawn and half vinegar? It works.) I’m no “green nut”, but I don’t like breathing chemicals nor polluting the water and soil if I can help it.

  • Carnut

    I read several years ago that WD40 was first found by trying to come up with a water dispersant for loosening corroded metal. WD – water dispersant – the 40th try was the charm. Simple way to name a product huh?
    I incorrectly heard it contained fish oil but the label doesn’t confirm.

  • Starmoon Seer

    WD-40 is pretty amazing. I use to work at walmart years ago and one day an little old lady came in and asked where the WD-40 was. I then walked her to the isle where it was located, I was curious and asked what she was going to use it for. She replied on her hands, it help relieve the pain of her Arthritis and shes able to use her hands again without the discomfort, sort of like DMSO ( http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/7/cover_dmso/Page-01 ) So years later I tried WD-40 because of the pain in my thumb joint from an old injury and it worked,, Amazing stuff…