“Consumers have reported more than 2,000 uses for WD-40 to the company. WD-40/Peter Dazeley/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/wakila/Andy Sacks/Getty Images/HowStuffWorks
Americans are a diverse lot. But one thing they have in common is a love of WD-40, a lubricant, degreaser and rust-remover that typically comes in a blue-and-yellow aerosol can with a red straw nozzle. Some 80 percent of households have at least one can on hand, The New York Times reported.
WD-40 was created in 1953 by Norman Larsen, an employee of the newly formed Rocket Chemical Company. It was produced specifically for use in the aerospace industry. The WD in the product’s name stands for water displacement, while the 40 was added because it took the fledgling company 40 tries to perfect the formula. Once it did, aerospace contractor Convair was the first to use WD-40, applying it to the outer skin of the Atlas Missile to protect it from rust and corrosion.
A few years later, with employees regularly sneaking the product home for their personal use, the company began selling WD-40 to the public. Then, in 1969, Rocket Chemical Company renamed itself WD-40 Company, Inc. after its sole product. Today, the original WD-40 is still in use, although the company also sells product variations, such as WD-40 BIKE, a product line geared at cycling maintenance.
Some of the most popular uses of WD-40 include cleaning tools, fixing squeaky hinges, lubricating sticky drawers or wheels, and rust prevention. But enthusiastic consumers have reported to the company well over 2,000 ways in which the product can be used. Here are a dozen of the more creative ones.
- Untangling jewelry. Spray a little WD-40 on your tangled necklace or bracelet chain and you should be able to straighten it out in no time.
- Removing crayon from multiple surfaces. No worries if your tot is an unrestrained, budding artist. WD-40 can successfully erase crayon marks from numerous surfaces, including wallpaper, carpet, rock walls, chalkboards, compressed wood furniture, glass and upholstery.
- Removing wax from candleholders. You light some candles for a romantic dinner, only to discover later that the wax dripped all over the candleholder. Scraping it off doesn’t work that well, nor does placing the candleholder in the freezer, a supposed wax-removing hack. But spray some WD-40 on the wax, and it’s a cinch to get it off. Fans also report you can spray a little inside your candleholders to prevent the candles from sticking, plus use WD-40 to remove candle soot and polish brass candlesticks.
- Removing gum. If the kids get gum in their hair, a little blast of WD-40 will remove it in no time. (And it’s a lot less messy than using peanut butter.) Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your child’s hair afterward. WD-40 also will easily remove gum from the bottom of your shoe.
- Removing tape and sticker residue. You never need to worry about affixing a state park sticker to your windshield again. WD-40 will help you remove the sticker and clean off the sticky residue that remains. Ditto for cellophane tape. Spray some on, let it soak in a few minutes, then wipe.
- Cleaning your car. Hate returning home from a summer trip and seeing your car’s bumper, grill and windshield covered with dead insects? A few blasts of WD-40 and you can easily wipe them away. In addition, you can use the spray to remove regular grime, tar and paint (if, say, a car sideswipes you). Best of all, it won’t ruin your vehicle’s own paint job in the process.
- Removing a variety of stains. Have some ink stains on your carpet or jeans? WD-40 will remove them. This magical spray also removes lipstick, coffee, tea, berry and tomato stains, lime stains in your toilet bowl, and hair color dye in your towels.
- Removing hard water spots. It’s so annoying when your hard water leaves unsightly spots on your shower door or dishes, or porcelain, tile and metal surfaces. But spritz a little WD-40 on those spots, and you’ll be able to easily wipe them away. If you use the spray on dishes, make sure to thoroughly wash before using them.
- Unsticking zippers. Jammed zippers can be so frustrating. Before discarding the item or potentially ruining it as you struggle to set the zipper free, try a little bit of WD-40. Many times, that’s all you need to do.
- Keeping insects away. Hate spiders? Spray some WD-40 on your windowsills, doorframes or wherever they try to gain entry into your home. This will help keep the spiders — and other insects — out. Gardeners, a generous coating over your wire tomato plant cages will also keep bugs at bay.
- Putting a shine on artificial plants. If your artificial house plants look dusty and tired, spiff them up by wiping the leaves and similar foliage with some WD-40.
- Helping out with paint jobs. When it’s time to do some painting, coat any nearby doorknobs with WD-40’s special Multi-Use Product, and any paint drops won’t adhere. In addition, WD-40 removes paint from tile floors, helps open paint can lids that are stuck shut and rehydrates paintbrush bristles.
While WD-40 is clearly a versatile and invaluable product, remember that it’s flammable and should never be used in enclosed spaces.
NOW THAT’S INTERESTING
One of the most bizarre uses of WD-40 occurred in Asia, when a bus driver used it to remove a python coiled around his vehicle’s undercarriage.