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WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

lock picking techniques, videos, lessons, skills and building them so you can pick locks in nanoseconds.

Moderators: Kaotik, Chucklz

Postby Chucklz » Tue Jan 20, 2004 1:30 pm

Definately would take issue with the "great lube" part of wd40. Its great for cleaning/ungunking locks, but I find that if I use it as lube, i end up having to lube about every month or so, while if I use a quality silicone spray, I end up only lubricating twice a year.

I think most people dont use graphite with enough parsimony, then end up adding some kind of oil to it later.... which really becomes a mess. Have you tried the Medeco key-lube? As a hobbiest, I really have no problem spending a few dollars to really "treat" my locks.
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WD-40 - High ambient temperature can cause difficulties!

Postby Chris » Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:58 pm

A few years ago I found that WD-40 can cause dhavoc if it's used on delicate mechanisms in a hot climate, or in a hot local environment.

We had a sudden spate of problems in southern Spain, all caused by electro-mechanical control relays sticking closed after the power was switched off. The problem was eventually traced to a guy who had worked all his life in the north of England (generally coolish climate) and had come to work with us in Spain (generally very warm climate). In England, he'd serviced relays by spraying them with WD-40 and had never had a problem. However - in Spain, the high ambient temperature caused the solvent / lubricant to evaporate within minutes, leaving a thin, very sticky deposit which glued the relay contacts together. I suspect that people living in generally cool climates could use WD-40 on locks and never have a problem - but in a hot climate - for reasons explained - I can see the potential for difficulties. Maybe this is one reason for opinions about WD-40 differing here.
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby Madhatta3 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:30 pm

I find the best substance to use for cleaning mechanical devices to be carburator cleaner. I even clean m16s, 249s, 240b, mk19, and plenty of pistols and hunting rifles with said substance. As far as the wd-40 goes, in warmer and more humid climates it will almost have an adverse effect as to lubricating it. Try CLP or another rifle lubricating substance. Works fine in the states and works fine in the desert and if i trust my life with it then its got to have something. Dont get sand in it though!!! =)
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Re:

Postby mr_chris79 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:47 pm

Securityman wrote:I have been a Locksmith for over 21 years and have used WD-40 on every lock (except Medeco and other sidebar and high-security locks) that I have worked on. It does not attact dust (like silicone sprays) and cleans out the cylinder (unlike graphite) quite well.

So when someone says to use something else..... take it from me, there isn't anything better for the buck.


ive been a mechanic for over 13 years and in my opinion WD40 DOES collect dust and grime!
if everyone who tried something new liked it but didnt bother telling anyone else there would never be anything new to try...
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby MAGNUM101 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:15 am

FISH OIL
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby ElbowMacaroni » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:25 pm

WOW! I was going to make a post about how WD40 is NOT made from fish oil like what that email that circulates from time to time claims... it's petroleum based. Don't believe it, go check the company website, look up the MSDS or even check snopes.com...
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby mhole » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:54 pm

Chris' point is a good one, and one I was going to make. I'm in the UK, and regularly use WD40 to lubricate locks. It works very well, so much so that our invoices carry a printed reminder that customers should lubricate locks every three to six months with WD40.

It definately does leave a slippery residue behind - club owners in the UK have taken to spraying it on horizontal surfaces in toilets to prevent people snorting coke off them, and this wouldn't work at all if it evaporated and left nothing behind.
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby LocksmithArmy » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:00 pm

That slippery residue is the problem.

It attracts dust and dirt and holds it there.
If you use it every 6 months like you say you should be fine. I think WD40 is ok short term. If you use it once and do not use it agin gor about 14 months you will have a sticky lock because its filled with gunk. WD40 is like rogain it works fine while you use it regularly but when you stop using it you end up worse than you were before. :wink:
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Re:

Postby globallockytoo » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:37 pm

Securityman wrote:I have been a Locksmith for over 21 years and have used WD-40 on every lock (except Medeco and other sidebar and high-security locks) that I have worked on. It does not attact dust (like silicone sprays) and cleans out the cylinder (unlike graphite) quite well.

So when someone says to use something else..... take it from me, there isn't anything better for the buck.


I realise this post is 6 years old, but I'm astonished that ANY locksmith would vouch for WD40. It is by far the one product that continues to provide increasing numbers of jobs for locksmiths.

I mean, if someone uses WD40 in a lock (or any metal that rubs together), there will always be a further need to repair or rebuild that lock.

As previous posters said, WD40 is a water displacement product. It was designed deliberately for starting flooded motors (vehicles buried in a flood). You spray the points, add some gas to the carby, and crank the starter.

It is primarily designed to "dry" lubricated parts.

I encourage everybody to continue buying it, for my locksmith business will continue to have regular business for life. Thanks WD40. :P :P :P
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby pickin&grinnin » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:49 pm

Kind of tangential but hopefully relevant along this like of thinking.

I'm working on some small locks on a travel trailer.

The previous owner used what appears to be axle grease or some other rather thick lubricant, possibly a silicone based trailer hitch/ball lubricant or silicone based slide-out rail lubricant. I'm trying to clean it out & get things working again. These are really cheap locks that can be removed from the trailer but it appears they cannot be opened up to repin them or gain other internal access.

I appear to be stuck with squirting cleaners or lubricants in the opening of the keyway itself to clean out the gunk. I'm sure this would be risking forcing the gunk further up into the channels above the shear line. I'm concerned I could gum up the locks to the point of malfunction, or possibly to the point where they really don't lock anymore, or they might become stuck in perpetual alignment of the shear line defeating their purpose.

What should I use to clean this out? Will repeated use of WD-40 dissolve and wash this out over time? Or should I use a spray solvent like brake cleaner or Liquid Wrench or electronic contact cleaner?

Thanks in advance,

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Re: Re:

Postby Confederate » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:47 am

globallockytoo wrote:I realise this post is 6 years old, but I'm astonished that ANY locksmith would vouch for WD40.


WD-40 has it's place and as a certified locksmith - I'll vouch for it any day, so long as it's application is correct. WD-40 is an excellent lock cleaner. Any time I tear apart a mortise lock to fix it I thoroughly clean each part with WD-40, let it dry, re-assemble, and then lubricate all parts using something like Tri-Flow or Lock Saver. Same with any lock that I suspect of being out doors - padlocks, DC/SCDB, etc.

Either my customer's are pleased or they're neglecting mentioning that their locks aren't working and just hoping the additional locks they're bringing in for service don't suffer the same fate as the one I just used WD40 on.

That's an example of when using WD-40 is correct.

I also use WD-40 as a penetrate to rusted or binding bolts/screws. I can't tell you how many safe feet bolts I've had to hit with some WD-40 because over months of sitting in the manufacturers warehouse and ours as well, corrosion has occurred and over torquing the bolts will just shear them.

It is by far the one product that continues to provide increasing numbers of jobs for locksmiths.


Your service area must be devoid of any dirt, grime, corrosion, etc.

As previous posters said, WD40 is a water displacement product. It was designed deliberately for starting flooded motors (vehicles buried in a flood). You spray the points, add some gas to the carby, and crank the starter.


I think a lot of WD40 debates are fueled by misinformation and this is a great example.

WD40 is not solely a water displacement product. It can be used to lubricate (it does contain roughly 15% of mineral oil), prevent corrosion, and clean parts (it's primarily composed of a form of mineral spirit).

I encourage everybody to continue buying it, for my locksmith business will continue to have regular business for life. Thanks WD40. :P :P :P


You know, I'm generally skeptic of extraordinary claims but I'm overly skeptic when someone completely rules out something without supporting it with evidence, and no the anecdotal kind does not count.

WD40, when used correctly, has many uses in the locksmithing industry - but it is not a one all or do all kind of product.
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby mhole » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:56 am

It pretty interesting to see people claiming that WD40 strips out lubrication, leaving locks which are too dry, and in the same breath claim that it leaves a residue which attracts dust and grit - which does it do, because the two statements are at loggerheads!?
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby ElbowMacaroni » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:04 am

What about using something like DuPont Teflon Spray to lubricate after cleaning a lock? I use it on alot of other things, and it never seems to attract any grime or hang on to dirt, etc.. Would that be a suitable lock lubricant, or is there a good reason not to? I'm asking because it seems like an attractive lubricant to use.

WD40 for lubrication? ugh... no thanks... I learned my lesson about WD40 as a lubricant as a kid with my bicycle chain. Heavy grease seems to attract less grit! and if you use it for cleaning metal parts, once you get all the crud off, remove the remaining grit attracting components of the WD40 with some denatured alcohol or some other alcohol like isopropanol (but use 90% or anhydrous if you have it.) Then put some sort of intended lubricant for the use in question.

And really if ya want to strip out any gunk and funk and not leave residue why not use PB Blaster for cleaning? Just don't put the bits to be cleaned in a styrofoam cup to soak, okay?
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby Confederate » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:34 am

ElbowMacaroni wrote:WD40 for lubrication? ugh... no thanks... I learned my lesson about WD40 as a lubricant as a kid with my bicycle chain. Heavy grease seems to attract less grit!


Ugh, again, WD-40 has its applications. You wouldn't expect to use heavy grease on a pin tumbler or wafer lock, would you? Does that mean heavy grease is useless for lubrication? No, it just means it's not suited for that application - much like WD-40 with your bicycle chain.

I swear, if people actually researched products and their intended use rather than just blindly applying them, then a lot of the disinformation and product confusion wouldn't exist.
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Re: WHY IS THE WD-40 SO BAD?

Postby globallockytoo » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:01 am

Perhaps Confederate, your opinion on WD40 may be one of the very few I have heard in 27 years in the locksmith trade, that supports it. I have worked in Europe, Australia, America and in all those places, I predominantly hear the same tune. That WD40 ruins far more locks than it repairs or lubricates.

My own experience with the product extends to use in high humidity locations to dirty, dusty, grimy locations and the argument against WD40 measures up every time.

I am speaking from personal experience with the product. I am glad it is out there for every Tom Dick or Harry to purchase and I hope they continue to purchase it. I will continue to have business as a result.

You are welcome to your opinion as I am to mine.

WD40 is garbage for locks - if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

If you want to continue using it after hearing many (more) negatives than positives ten you go for it mate!
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