Monday, March 10, 2014

Water Displacement Formula 40 (AKA WD 40)

The very first Vintage Sewing Machine I bought was a very sad and rusty La Vincendora  128.  I used two whole spray cans of WD 40 on it and never got it to loosen up decently.  Why?

WD 40 is a water displacement product.  It is not a lubricant.  It might seem like it is lubing things up but it isn't.  When it dries, it leaves a film on the surface which becomes gummy with time.  Sort of like dried up KY Jelly.  ICK. Use Sewing Machine oil or Tri Flow or Liquid Wrench or PB Blaster.  WD 40 has its place but not as a lubricant.

I do use WD 40 in my shop as a WATER DISPLACEMENT tool.  If I use a water based cleaner and need to rinse the part with water I will then use WD 40 to displace the water so that the part doesn't rust.  I figure a sticky film is better than rust.    Then I oil the part with SM oil.  (I once used that abbreviation in an email to Betsy who wrote back "What is SM?"  Really.  True story) 

I never used 3 in 1 oil, though.  Never. 


  1. I used to use WD 40 in my car locks on the rust bucket Pinto and old Mustang back in the 70s. They would get iced up if there was wet, then freezing and I guess the water was displaced hence no ice and the key worked. Guess I am showing my age.

  2. Very good advice: I have two machines that probably quit working because I used WD40 and followed up with 3 in 1. I thought oil was oil back in those days before there were wiser heads to go to for advice on the net. Maybe this will save someone else's machine. Very good advice!

  3. Thank you! You once and for all cleared up (for ME, anyway!) exactly what WD-40 is good for! NOW, I get it!!!

  4. I bought a 201 from eBay. The reek of WD 40 was overwhelming. The seller claimed it had been 'serviced. Hahahahaha. I oiled everything properly and rebuilt the tension assembly (with your help! :-) ) before I even started her up. Then I argued with her for many days to get the tension balanced, but we got there. She's a total treat to sew with.
    I didn't do anything to remove the WD 40, does that matter?

    1. Probably not. Just keep it well oiled and you should be fine.