Debunking Myths: Is WD-40 Really a Lubricant?

Why Do People Say WD-40 is Not a Lubricant?

When it comes to household products, WD-40 is a name that almost everyone recognizes. But despite its widespread use for various applications, there is a common misconception that WD-40 is not a lubricant. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this belief and explore the properties of WD-40 that contribute to this perception.

The Origins of WD-40

WD-40 was first developed in 1953 by a small company in San Diego, California. The name “WD-40” stands for “Water Displacement, 40th formula,” highlighting its original purpose as a water displacement product. Its unique formula was designed to repel moisture and protect metal surfaces from rust and corrosion.

Multi-Use Product

While WD-40 was initially marketed as a water displacement product, its versatility soon became apparent. Over the years, WD-40 has been used for a wide range of applications beyond just displacing water. It is now marketed as a “Multi-Use Product” due to its ability to lubricate, clean, and provide rust protection.

Debunking Myths: Is WD-40 Really a Lubricant?


Is WD-40 a Lubricant?

One of the main reasons people believe WD-40 is not a lubricant is because it is primarily a solvent-based product. While WD-40 does have some lubricating properties, it is not a true lubricant in the traditional sense. Lubricants are designed to reduce friction between moving parts, whereas WD-40 is more of a cleaner and protector.

WD-40’s Viscosity

Another factor that contributes to the misconception that WD-40 is not a lubricant is its viscosity. WD-40 has a lower viscosity than traditional lubricants, making it less effective for long-term lubrication of moving parts. However, its thin consistency allows it to penetrate tight spaces and displace moisture effectively.

Debunking Myths: Is WD-40 Really a Lubricant?


Long-Term Lubrication

While WD-40 may provide temporary lubrication for certain applications, it is not ideal for long-term lubrication. The active ingredient in WD-40 is a non-volatile, viscous oil that remains on the surface to provide protection from moisture and some level of lubrication. However, this lubricating effect is not as durable or long-lasting as that of dedicated lubricants.

Expert Opinions

Various experts and forums have weighed in on the debate surrounding WD-40’s status as a lubricant. Some argue that its solvent-based composition disqualifies it from being considered a true lubricant, while others acknowledge its lubricating properties but emphasize that it is not the best choice for long-term lubrication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Wd-40 Not A Lubricant?

WD-40 is not a lubricant; it is a solvent that can provide basic lubricating, cleaning, and rust protection functions.

Can You Use Wd-40 As Lube?

WD-40 can be used as a lubricant, although it is not specifically designed for that purpose. Its viscosity is lower than water, making it suitable for basic lubricating tasks. However, it is important to note that WD-40 is primarily a multi-use product for cleaning, rust protection, and general maintenance.

What Was Wd-40 Originally Made For?

WD-40 was originally made as a multi-use product for basic lubricating, cleaning, and rust protection. It is not a lubricant in the traditional sense, but it can be used as one due to its low viscosity. The long-term active ingredient is a non-volatile, viscous oil that provides lubrication and protection from moisture.

Is It Bad To Put Wd-40 On Bearings?

Applying WD-40 on bearings is not recommended as it is a solvent, not a lubricant.


In conclusion, while WD-40 is a versatile product with many practical applications, it is not a traditional lubricant. Its primary function as a water displacement product has led to misconceptions about its lubricating capabilities. While WD-40 can provide temporary lubrication and protection for metal surfaces, it is best used for cleaning, protecting against rust, and loosening stuck parts rather than long-term lubrication.

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