12 Clever Things You Never Knew WD-40 Could Do

12 Clever Things You Never Knew WD-40 Could Do
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Originally created as a rust-prevention solvent for use in the aerospace industry, WD-40 has become the go-to product for your home’s squeaky door hinges and stuck bike chains (Which can be counter productive as it then traps dirt and dust inside.) There’s some debate about what the product actually is, however — and what it should be used for.

If you believe the WD-40 website, the popular household fix-it spray “is a unique, special blend of lubricants.” If you believe the rest of the internet, it is not really a lubricant; rather a degreaser and water-displacing solvent. (According to the brand, the name does stand for Water Displacement, 40th formula.”) In addition to the lubricants it purportedly contains, it also has anti-corrosion agents and ingredients for “penetration and soil removal.”

Regardless of where you stand on its fundamental constitution, it’s hard to deny the product has a lot of practical uses around the house and garage — many that the average consumer of WD-40 may not be aware of. Without further ado, let’s get into some of the lesser-known ways it can aid your everyday life.

Repel insects (and keep them off your car’s grille)

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If you’d like to drive more than five minutes during warm months without your car’s front grille becoming a metallic graveyard for any and all bugs, spray it with WD-40 before you hit the road. Instead of dying and hardening in the sun, the bugs will slide right off, leaving you with a much easier cleanup job. (P.S. You can also use it to loosen bird poop after it calcifies on your hood into something that could have come straight from King Tut’s tomb.)

Around the house, lightly coat windowsills, doorframes, and screens with WD-40 to prevent bugs from entering.

Remove gum from shoes (or carpet, or hair)

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WD-40 is fantastic at lifting sticky or hardened things, like that gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, your child’s hair, or lodged in your carpet fibres. When dealing with a shoe, spray WD-40 directly on the gum and let sit for 30-60 seconds. Use a dull knife to scrape the gum away from you. Repeat as necessary before washing with soapy water. (This trick also works if you’re faced with cleaning dog doo off your favourite sneaks.)

For carpets, spray on top and all around the perimeter of the gum, wait a few minutes; the majority should lift easily. Spray again and rub with a microfiber cloth to loosen what remains. (You’ll obviously want to clean the area with an odor-eater such as soap, vinegar, baking soda, or scented carpet cleaner to remove any lingering smell.)

Untangle jewellery

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Those who wear necklaces know — they can quickly devolve into an impossible, chaotic mess if not vigilantly separated in their own, personal, miniature Ziploc bags. WD-40 is great at disjoining things you don’t want to be joined. It won’t instantaneously unknot everything, but it will make the job much shorter.

Cover a countertop with plastic or newspaper and spray the mass of tangled jewels (or a stubborn knot within one piece of jewellery). Massage in the WD-40 and let sit for a minute. Gently pull and, so we’re told, the chains will slip out of each other with much less effort. Wash afterwards.

Remove surface stains

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If you have little kids, chances are WD-40 can help you more than you realise around the house. Whether your tiny Picasso’s artistic implement of choice is crayons, markers, clay, glue, tape, or stickers, some will end up on surfaces where you don’t want them. Spray WD-40 on walls, tabletops, and floors to remove your child’s latest errant masterpiece. It can even be used to lift crayon marks from LCD laptop and TV screens, though it’s advisable to spray the WD-40 onto a microfiber cloth, not the screen itself (to prevent drips into the machine).

The solvent works especially well on tile, where it can remove mascara, nail polish, scuff marks, and grime living in the grout lines.

Remove unwanted paint from your car’s exterior

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If you’ve ever driven through freshly painted lane lines in the road, or had another vehicle casually swipe you in a parking lot leaving paint smudges on the side of your car, WD-40 can come to the rescue. Just spray, wait a few seconds, and wipe with a clean rag. It should remove the surface paint without damaging your car’s original finish.

Soften leather

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WD-40 works wonders to soften up stiff leather (and, according to Bob Vila, leather-like materials such as car or boat upholstery). Whether it’s a baseball glove, work boot, dog collar, or hardened tool belt, a few spritzes followed by a thorough wipe down will instantly make it more supple. Bonus? It will also make stains and scuffs less visible. (Caveat: It can dry out leather over time, so be careful not to overuse on your favourite leather items.)

Lube shovels, sleds, and prevent snow build-up in winter

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When snow and freezing temps descend, WD-40 is your friend. It can be sprayed on door locks (to keep them from freezing in position), snow shovels (to keep snow from sticking to the bottom and weighing down the shovel), and the outside of windows (to prevent ice and snow build up from blocking out sunlight).

If you feel the need for speed during the next snowstorm, coat the bottom of a sled with WD-40 and tear down the nearest hill (which should not be near any roads).

Clean paint from floors, and keep paintbrushes soft

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When drop cloths and painter’s tape fail you during that DIY bathroom renovation, spray WD-40 on splattered paint and wipe clean. (It works especially well on tile floors, but can also be used on wood.) The substance can help loosen paint can lids, and a preventative spritz will keep spilled paint from drying on door knobs and handles.

Keep your paint brush bristles from getting hard by first cleaning them, wringing out any excess water, then spraying with WD-40. Swipe away excess, shape the brush, place in its cover, and the bristles will be soft, clean, and ready to use — even if your next paint job isn’t for a while.

Spruce up plastic patio furniture

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If you forgot to bring in a few chairs before the winter months hit and now they look dank and moldy, renew their appearance with a WD-40 “bath.” (Not really, there’s no actual water involved.) Spray directly on the furniture, and wipe with a clean, dry cloth to get them looking (close to) new again.

Waterproof shoes and boots

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OK, class: pop quiz. Who remembers the primary function of W-D 40? Nope, although it has lubricant-like properties, it’s not lubrication. It’s…ding-ding-ding! Water displacement.

Given that it was designed to seal out moisture and prevent rust, it tracks that it would make our shoes less permeable to water. A spray around the tops and sides of your shoes or boots before going into wet weather can go a long way towards keeping your feet dry. (And your kicks will lose minor scuffs and gain major shine in the process.)

Prevent dirt-caking and splintering on garden tools

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As one of WD-40’s defining characteristics is “soil removal,” we’d be remiss not to mention any gardening applications. Spray it on gardening tools — whether shovels, spading forks, garden trowels, or hoes — before hitting those raised beds and watch the soil slide off. It can also be applied to the wooden handles of any outdoor tools (including rakes) to prevent splintering and extend their lifespan.

Remove glue and grease from hands

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It may seen counterintuitive to use something as stinky as WD-40 to clean yourself, but it works. Use the spray to remove the stubborn stickiness of glue from your hands before washing. (The same goes for lifting the gooey residue of stickers, price labels, duct tape, etc. from other surfaces in your home.)

Next time you fix something out in the garage, instead of blackening your sink with grease, spray WD-40 on your hands, wipe with a paper towel, and finish the job with soap and water.

(And while we’re on the subject of hands, WD-40 can also remove that too-tight ring you knew you shouldn’t have tried on.)

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