Can You Use WD-40 to Clean a Gun?

wd-40Out of the most commonly seen chemicals in American households and commercial establishments, WD-40 particularly stands out.

This multi-functioning chemical spray is credited with a wide variety of benefits: safeguarding metal from corrosion and rust, unsticking anything that’s stuck and providing ready lubrication for numerous tasks.

It can even do short work of grease. But can you use WD-40 to clean a gun? Absolutely not!

If you’re uninitiated with the workings of firearms, that answer is justifiably quite befuddling.

But you don’t have to stay in the dark. Below we’ve covered the exact reasons why WD-40 should not be used to clean guns.


What Exactly is WD-40?

Despite its popularity and prevalence, the exact make-up of WD-40 is probably unknown to you.

However, in order to understand why WD-40 should not be used to clean firearms, it’s important to first comprehend exactly what the chemical is and what it does.

Where does WD-40 Originate?

Almost three-quarters of a decade ago, the Rocket Chemical Company set about trying to create a chemical solvent that could prevent rust on rockets and aircraft.

Fast forward to today, when around 80% of American establishments and households use WD-40.

What Does the Name WD-40 Mean?

The “WD” in WD-40 stands for “Water displacer.” The “40”, meanwhile, indicates that this spray was the result of the 40th attempt to create it. Sounds pretty simple.

How Does WD-40 Work?

Water displacement is the name given to the process that occurs when an object is, quite literally, displaced by water—i.e., removed. However, the exact formula of WD-40 is a closely guarded secret (obviously!).

What Does WD-40 do?

This water-displacement solvent dissolves rust and corrosion by keeping metal safe from water. In its wet state, WD-40 is also used as a lubricant. However–and this is very important—WD-40 is not a lubricant because it evaporates after some time.

Why do Some People Use WD-40 on their Guns?

Maybe you’ve clicked on this article because you’ve seen others use WD-40 on their guns.

Well, in the early days, when specialized gun cleaning products didn’t exist, WD-40 did. But with new information and targeted products such as gun oil, WD-40 should be avoided. We cover the reasons why below.


What Happens When You Clean Your Gun with WD-40

On the surface, using WD-40 to clean a gun seems completely logical.

After all, the chemical can dissolve grime, rust, and corrosion on your gun. And it seems it can even prevent further damage. So why is it advised against?

It Only Makes the Problem Worse

However, what you need to know about WD-40 is that it does not vanish the gunk off your gun’s surface. Rather, it only dissolves it, which means the residue actually does not get removed.

Instead, what WD-40 does is displace (true to its name) the gunk to hard-to-reach parts of the gun. The result?

A whole new build-up problem that you have to deal with down the line. It’s kind of like when you have guests coming over, but instead of actually cleaning anything, you just shove it all into a closet or under the bed!

It’s not Really a Lubricant

One oft-overlooked fact is that WD-40 is a solvent. So, like any other solvent, it evaporates. How can you use an evaporating chemical to lubricate anything? You can’t!

Yes, WD-40 will prevent rust if you spray it on your gun.

However, it can never replace the benefit of using real gun oil or lubricants, which stick to the gun’s surface, protecting it.

So if you use WD-40 to clean your gun, prepare for it to rust.

Who Loves Yucky Residue?

Not us, that’s for sure, and if you love your gun, you’ll agree with us. Remember how WD-40 evaporates?

Well, when it does, it leaves behind a waxy residue. Many inexperienced gun owners tend to think of the residue as a good thing due to its consistency.

However, you will find that WD-40 residue not only smells terrible but further attracts grime and dirt over time due to that very same waxy consistency. Does that sound like something you want for your gun? We sure hope not!



Now that you’ve read this article, we hope you will know to answer with a sharp NO the next time you hear someone asking, “Can you use WD-40 to clean a gun?”

More importantly, we hope that this inspires you to invest in some quality cleaning products for your firearms.

Never cheapen out when it comes to servicing your guns, and they will serve you well for many years to come.

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