Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What WD-40 is Good For

WD-40 has a bad reputation among many bike mechanics because some people try to use it as a chain lube. WD-40 will quiet a squeaky chain for about 2 minutes but it is far too light to be used as a lube. This doesn't mean that WD-40 is useless when it comes to the bike, however. Used properly, WD-40 is very handy for cleaning away grime, loosening corroded parts and displacing water.

The WD in WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement" and when mixed with water it becomes kind of soapy. When I worked with Ryan Linville at Bike Works a few years ago he taught me a neat trick he'd learned at a shop in New York. Ryan mixed WD-40 with water and put it in a plastic trigger spray bottle. He called the stuff "Bling Juice" and depending on how strong you want to make it you can play with the ratio of WD-40 to water. Two parts WD-40 to one part water works pretty well, but a 50/50 mix makes the supply of WD-40 last longer. You shake it up and you know you've got the ratio right when the result is kind of foamy & white.

Bling Juice is really good at cutting through road tar, grease and drive-train gunk. It does leave behind a film, so don't get it on braking surfaces or brake pads. It will clean away crusty & dirty old lube, so be sure to re-lube parts that need lubing with a real lube after you've done your cleaning.

So that's my tip for the day. WD-40 mixed with water. It's lousy as a lube, but it's wonderful as a cleaner.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Linda said...

If you use it in a 50/50 mix and it gets on the frame, does it do anything bad to the paint if you miss a spot and not wipe it off? Decades ago, I worked in a bike shop and we had a gunk sink we used to soak parts in to clean them and we used a mix of WD 40 and water. Just wondering if anything has changed with the way frames are painted these days. I have a beautful relatively new Specialized Dolce and I would hate to see anything hurting that paint job!

Kent Peterson said...

We haven't had any problems with Bling Juice going after paint, the light film it leaves behind is kind of waxy.

tacomee said...

WD-40 will help take bike grease stains out of carpet and this keeps landlords and significant others happy!

Tim Joe said...

I am happy to learn in my dotage what The WD stands for. But what about the 40?

Alex said...

The 40 part comes from the fact that it was the 40th version they had developed.

Jared Diaz said...

Once again I find another good use for WD-40! I never used it on my bike, but now I have a reason! Thanks for the write up Kent!