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Cleaning strings with WD-40!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bassophile, Oct 22, 2005.

  1. I'v been using WD-40 for cleaning strings last few weeks and I am amased. Does WD40 do any harm to woods, oil finishes to be more precise? :rolleyes:
  2. http://www.wd-40.com

    Seen thats it contains Petroleum Distillates. I would imagine entually it will strip the finish. And leave amounts of itself in place. Also sucking moisture out of the wood. Potentially leaving it dry enough to crack. Check the writing on the can and the website for more information.
  3. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    Never ever ever ever ever...touch anything on your bass with that stuff again. If you want to clean strings, use denatured alcohol or formulated string cleaner.
  4. Well, some finishes or plastics may be harmed by petroleum products, but an occassional light dose on the strings and fingerboard hasn't hurt my instruments any.

    By the way, guess what's in liquid furniture polish?......Yep....petroleum distillates....

    My opinion: A little bit of WD-40 sprayed on the fingerboard probably would be OK....
  5. WD is recommended to me by bass players that use it for a long time, they've never complained about it. Off course they used it only for strings, which are made of METAL. I also use it only for strings.
    Second, I use Dr.Ducks AX WAX for polishing finishes on my basses. They say that it moisturizes, protect, clean etc and is appropriate for all musical instruments and finishes. AND IT CONTAINS PETROLEUM DISTILLATES TOO. :eyebrow:
  6. I used almost every string cleaner on market. I noticed that some of them after aplying improve sound of string but after 3-4 hours strings become dead more than they was before.

    if you have some very bad experience with WD40, it would be good to tell about it to me and other people who think that WD40 is not so harmful.
  7. KSDbass


    Mar 25, 2005
    yeah, WD-40 makes stuff rust, because it is a lubricant, and says so on the can. so It'll make your strings rust eventually.
  8. I made the very sad mistake of spraying some of the chrome parts on my 1977 shovelhead before putting it away in storage for the winter.

    The WD40 rusted hell out of the chrome parts where I sprayed it.


    Cut open an empty can of WD40 with a hack saw, and you will find the can rusted on the inside. I learned this from an old Navy submarine hydraulics tech.

    WD40 is designed to free stuck joints, not prevent rust. Automatic transmission fluid (light oil) is much better at rust prevention, and is easier to remove.
  9. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador

    As far as my experience is... that statement is true.

    And in my opinion.. strings sound better when they are CLEAN and DRY.

    Alcohol is the way to go. It will evaporate completely and leave the strings dry. (Of course.. Isopropyl or 90% alcohol)
  10. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    WD-40, all over your hands every day? Ew. I did a google search that didn't come up with much, but my guess is that WD-40, being a petroleum distillate (like gasoline), is a carcinogen.
  11. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    WD-40 is a neat product. But after decades of use, I found that its a good loosener of parts, perhaps similiar to penetrating oil. After using it on car door hinges, locks and other quasi lubricating jobs, I found that it really has minimal long-time lubrication properties that doesn't come close to a good lubricating oil. I would not use it on strings primarily due to it becoming a vehicle to allow grime and dirt get into the strings, particularly round-wounds, and I cannot see how that will enhance or rejuvinate the sound to that of a new string. The string came completely clean, except for those strings coated by the manufacturer, and it seems that using 100% alcohol might allow the closest approximation to the original state of the string when new. Residue is probably minimal. The only other product I can think of would be brake-clean, but I wouldn't bet on it being safe to use, although it is an effective de-greaser/cleaner for brakes with minimal residue.

    Also, WRT to the quote about it being a carcinogen, strangely enough the first link below states that its contents are not. Considering some peoples long term use on instruments, I think it be a good thing to read the latest MSDS sheet on the product from the second link and determine for yourself if you want long-term exposure to the product, notwithstanding the positive comments regarding use on Zon instruments in the third link. If you happen to know one, a comment from an industrial chemist might be helpful.


  12. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Heh, shows what I know. It still strikes me as kinda weird. The side of the can says to avoid contact with skin.
  13. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Now I know what to use on my Sonus fingerboard!

    My experience with WD40 and basses is limited to a few emergency implementations as a potentiometer cleaner! The stuff is mostly solvent with a little light oil. Yes, it can wreck some finishes if it is left to stand, but if it craters a finish on contact then a stiff martini porobably would have done the same thing. WD is also a miracle at removing sticker residue. But I wouldn't clean strings with it unless it was prior to some other cleaning. I have no interest is smelling like WD40, carcinogen or not.

    Also, as a chemist and environmental scientist I can say for sure that while many things "could" cause cancer, it takes a mountain of evidence to get something labelled a carcinogen. All you can say is that it hasn't been proven to be a carcinogen *yet*. So use your head and not the MSDS (though MSDS and other lit is very valuable). If you think that it is bad for you it probably is. Even billions of dollars of marketing every year fail to completely silence that smart little voice that keeps you from walking out in front of a moving bus.

    last: My failing memory says that WD stands for "Water Displacer" and that it was used like liquid wrench, etc...
  14. basseuphoria


    May 19, 2005
    believe it or not, Scott's Liquid Gold cleans my strings wonderfully and the fret board likes it too! been using it for about 20 + yrs now w/ no problems
  15. VifferMike

    VifferMike Registered Four Banger Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    The misinformation about WD-40 in this thread is frightening. Wow.

    As a motorcyclist, I've been involved in countless discussions about what WD-40 actually is, what it's uses are, what it's made up of, what to use it on (and not use it on), and so on. I've even talked with a former chemist for the company that makes the stuff.

    The "WD" in the name stand for "Water Displacer." The primary use for WD-40 is as a light petroleum-based lubricant and as a temporary seal against water on most untreated and unpolished metals. It can also be used on some industrial-grade polymers and plastics and other heavy-duty, man-made composites. Believe it or not, the primary ingredient in WD-40 is very simple: kerosene. WD-40 does NOT build up unless gunked up on a surface or held in a surface that is absorbent; in other words, on flat surfaces it will eventually evaporate due to heat, low pressure and air movement.

    Two metals to avoid are untreated aluminum (it will eventually discolor it because raw aluminum is very porous) and low-quality chrome. I personally use WD-40 to lube my motorcycle's chain and clean nearly all of its non-chromed metal parts.

    That said, WD-40 should NOT be used on rubber, softer grades of plastic, unsealed wood, most translucent or clear coverings and finishes, glass or most all absorbent and/or porous materials.

    The reason some believe WD-40 promotes rust is because the water that it displaces has to go somewhere else that is untreated by the WD-40. Usually that's somewhere nearby. In a WD-40 can, for instance, condensation builds up in and around the can (especially the space between the interior walls) and rust eventually forms there. On cans that have been sitting for years, rust can form on the outside near the nozzle and on the bottom rim.

    As for its uses on bass guitars: Zon actually recommends using WD-40 to clean frets and its phenowood fingerboards. Strings and brass should be fine, but use it VERY sparingly. Keep it away from the body (especially if the wood is either untreated or painted/clearcoated and waxed) and ANY plastic parts (pickup covers, nuts, knobs, etc.) at all costs.
  16. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    It will eventually make your strings come apart and unravel. I used to use it on rusty padlocks and in time the lock would eventually fall apart from it.
    WD is a loosener for frozen nuts and things of that sort. You only use it when you can't get something off it doesn't replace oil or grease. Whoever told you that it is a good string cleaner is a nut! :eyebrow: :rollno:
  17. A good Vodka works as well and you can ingest some with no ill effect! :)
  18. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Stanley Clarke used to use After shave. He said not only did it clean his strings better than anything else, he smelled great afterwards as well.
  19. StarMountainKid


    Nov 6, 2005
    NAPA Auto Parts discontinued selling WD-40 several years ago, the manager said it is harmful to the environment. Does that tell you something?