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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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New Albany, PA 18833

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The Many Uses for Good Old WD-40

This article first appeared in the April 06 issue of The DRSNews
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I thought that you might like to know more about the third handiest tool in my box, good old WD-40.

WD-40 resulted from a search for a rust preventative solvent and degreaser to protect missile parts. It was created in 1953 by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name comes from the project that was to find a "Water Displacement" compound. They were successful after trying some 40 formulas, and WD-40 was born.

Good old WD40 can

Workers were so pleased with the product they began smuggling it out of the plant to use at home.

Company executives decided there might be a consumer market for it and put it in aerosol cans, and the rest is history. It is a carefully guarded recipe known only to four people. One of them is the "brew master." There are about 2.5 million gallons of the stuff manufactured each year. It gets its distinctive smell from a fragrance that is added to the brew. Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you. (tell that to the wasps I spray with it!)

Here's a short list of its many uses, sent to me by a friend (thanks, Peg!), plus a few of my favorites:

(Note: a lot of folks tell me they use it to lube bearings, but I can't recommend it for that, it's just not intended to take the place of a good bearing oil or grease.) OK, here goes: 

Protects silver from tarnishing
Cleans and lubricates guitar strings
Gets oil spots off concrete driveways
Gives floors that 'just-waxed' sheen without making them slippery
Keeps flies off cows
Really good for lubricating and freeze-proofing locks
Restores and cleans chalkboards
Removes lipstick stains
Loosens stubborn zippers
Untangles jewelry chains
Removes stains from stainless steel sinks
Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill
Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing
Removes tomato stains from clothing
Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots
Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors
Kills wasps very efficiently
Keeps scissors working smoothly
Gives a children's play gym slide a shine for a super fast slide
Helps rust-proof lawnmower decks
Rids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises
Lubricates tracks in sticking house windows and makes them easier to open
Spraying umbrella stems and portable radio antennas makes them easier to open and close
Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards, vinyl bumpers, and roof racks on vehicles
Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools
Removes splattered grease on stove
Protects tractors and other outdoor equipment, used like a car wax; I use it on my old Ford 2N
Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging
Lubricates prosthetic limbs
Repels pigeons (they hate the smell) - never tried this one - wonder if it'd work for our bears?
Removes all traces of duct tape
I have even heard of folks spraying it on their joints to relieve arthritis pain.
 (but after seeing what it does to insects, I don’t recommend this!)
Florida's favorite use: cleans and removes ‘love bugs’ from grills and bumpers
A favorite use in New York state: protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
 (I have to wonder about this one)
WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a LITTLE on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time. It's a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though, that using chemical laced baits or lures for fishing may be illegal in some states. (Again, I've been told this works by more than one fisherman, but will have to test it further before I'm a true believer!)
Keeps chiggers away from the kids
Shines stovetops
Makes a good campfire starter - just spray a bit on the kindling
Takes the sting of fire ant bites away immediately, and stops the itch
Removes crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag
Removes lipstick stains in laundry. Saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and re-wash.
Displaces moisture from your car’s distributor cap
WD-40, long known for its ability to remove leftover tape smudges (sticky label tape), is also a lovely perfume and air freshener! Sprayed liberally on every hinge in the house, it leaves that distinctive clean fresh scent for up to two days!
Seriously though, it removes black scuffmarks from the kitchen floor! Use WD-40 for those nasty tar and scuff marks on flooring. It doesn't seem to harm the finish and you won't have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off. Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!
Works pretty well as a lubricant when machining aluminum on the mill or lathe

I'll bet you can add more uses of your own, so hey, drop me an email and I'll add it to the list. We'll see how many we can come up with!


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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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