For Every Problem There's WD-40

By Mary Hunt

October 11, 2016 5 min read

It's not new. The blue-and-yellow can is about as familiar as anything I remember from my childhood. Because it was banished to a shelf in the garage, I assumed WD-40 was for cars. Boy, was I wrong! WD-40 is amazing — and cheap. A 12-oz. can costs less than five bucks when purchased online or at Home Depot or Wal-Mart.

Here's the WD-40 rule: Use it, then remove it. Always. WD-40 must be rinsed away. A buildup of WD-40 can create its own sticky mess over time.

WD-40 is a petroleum-based product (so is Vaseline). While the aerosol propellant is flammable, the product itself is, according to the manufacturer, harmless to humans. WD-40 gets things unstuck, and much more. I know; I go through this stuff like it's water.

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

If something's melted...

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

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

3. Apply liquid dishwashing detergent, and work into the stained area, replacing the paper towels as the stain is absorbed.

4. Wash in hot water with laundry detergent and Clorox 2 or Biz for about 12 minutes (use the Heavy Soil 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 well. Run a load of dry rags through a full dry cycle.

If something's sticky...

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

Make hangers glide over a clothes rod by spraying WD-40 onto a cloth and applying it to the rod.

If something's squeaky...

WD-40's likely the solution. It keeps the squeak out of wicker chairs, kids' swings, rocking chairs, bed springs and hinges. It will quiet your trash compactor, too. Or use it to silence that noisy weather vane, or those car strut mounts or windshield wipers.

If something's pesty...

WD-40 keeps flies off cows and pigeons off balconies (they hate the smell).

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 radiator, windshield and front grill.

If something's scratched...

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

If something's stained...

WD-40 cleans piano keys and removes Kool-Aid stains 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 something'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, including washing machines, shower heads and garden tools. You know those rust stains in your tub and shower? WD-40 is the answer.

Lastly, you know those terra cotta pots that oxidize? By now you should know the routine: WD-40!

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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