20 Unusual but Handy Uses for WD-40, Indoors and Out

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WD-40
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By Karla Bowsher

WD-40 is marketed as a "multi-use product."

It's known for the capabilities for which it's usually enlisted -- such as lubricating squeaky hinges, loosening rusted parts and driving out moisture. (In fact, "WD" stands for "water displacement.")

But WD-40's uses extend well beyond those roles.

WD-40 Co. (WDFC) offers thousands of uses for its namesake product on its website, including 2,000-plus uses contributed by the product's devotees. Pros and amateurs alike have been discovering more uses since the original WD-40 product was developed in 1953 after 39 failed attempts. (Thus, the "40" in its name.)

We've rounded up some of the least known but most helpful uses below.

If your instinct is to save a buck by buying a generic equivalent, we applaud you. But following through on that instinct might be more challenging than usual in WD-40's case.

The product has few competitors, equity research analyst Joseph Altobello, currently of Raymond James Financial, told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2013. Liquid Wrench, a brand-name product, and a few store brands could be the closest things to knock-offs.

The newspaper noted the following about the San Diego headquarters of WD-40:

The company keeps a room filled with knock-off brands that have tried and failed to mimic the product. Some of the cans look uncannily like regular WD-40. [Chief Executive Garry] Ridge calls that room the mortuary.

If you try a new use for WD-40 or a knock-off, test it in a small inconspicuous area first. WD-40's list of fan-submitted uses notes that the company has not tested those suggestions, and that "customers should exercise common sense whenever using WD-40" and read the label.

Indoors
  • Remove stickers, decals, price tags and tape. It also works on adhesive residue they might leave behind.
  • Remove scuff marks. This includes shoe scuff marks on floors and the interior of car doors as well as chair-back scuff marks on running boards on walls.
  • Remove dried toothpaste stains.
  • Dissolve glues. Examples from WD-40's website include removing glue from carpet, leather and other surfaces; removing hair-extension glue from hair; and removing glue stains from jeans.
  • Remove coffee stains. Examples from the website include cups, tables, counters and floor tiles. Just be sure to wipe up all fluid from floors so no one slips.
  • Remove chewing gum. The website mentions gum on hair, shoes, carpet, concrete and lunch trays.
  • Remove permanent marker from dry-erase boards.
  • Remove crayon, colored pencil, modeling clay and Silly Putty. Crayola specifically recommends WD-40, among other products, for various surfaces.
  • Separate stuck Lego building bricks.
  • Clean grass stains, paint and dog poop off shoes.
  • Dislodge salt-impregnated ice from boot soles.
Outdoors
  • Deter wasps from nesting. For evicting the buggers from a nest or preventing them from building one, users of Reddit's "LifeProTips" message board agree on WD-40's effectiveness. Just don't spray a nest while wasps are around. As one commenter who made this mistake puts it: "They do not like it, and will attack."
  • Prevent grass from collecting on lawnmower blades.
  • Deter squirrels from raiding backyard bird feeders. WD-40 Co. CEO Ridge recently told the Los Angeles Times that his favorite story about an unusual use for WD-40 was about a woman who sprayed it on her bird feeder pole because squirrels were filching bird food: "Can you imagine those little squirrels trying to climb up that lubricated pole?"
  • Prevent snow from sticking to shovels and snowplow blades.
  • Open frozen mailbox doors.
Vehicles
  • Remove dead bugs from various parts. WD-40's website mentions radiators, grills, bumpers and paint.
  • Remove bird droppings from hoods and roofs.
  • Prevent car parts from freezing in winter. The website mentions locks and windshield-wiper spray nozzles.
  • Remove barnacles from the bottom of boats.
For more unusual uses for household products, check out "85 Uses for Baking Soda -- and How It Could Save Your Life" and "33 Uses for Baby Oil (Most of Which Don't Involve Babies)."

Do you have a favorite use for WD-40? Or a favorite alternative product? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It's a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

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