Should I slather WD-40 all over my Rubik's cube?
March 24, 2014 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Yeah, I know you're supposed to disassemble it and lather it with petroleum jelly, but I'm too lazy. Will WD-40 have negative side effects?
posted by Opengreen to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
How to clean/lubricate a rubik's cube:
Now that your cube is nice and clean, take one edges out. Using Silicon oil put one quick spray inside. DO NOT USE WD40, IT IS CORROSIVE AND COULD RUIN YOUR CUBE.I find that about 1/4 of a second of spray is perfect after cleaning.
posted by zamboni at 6:50 AM on March 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sounds like it may dissolve the sticker glue if you actually mean 'all over'.
If you mean spraying it inside, I do agree that silicone oil is the better option, WD40 is not really a great lubricant, it's short-term.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:58 AM on March 24, 2014

I used a silicone based oil for mine and it made it turn nice and smooth with very little mess. You just pull one of the edge pieces aside and squirt a couple of drops. I wouldn't use petroleum jelly, too sticky.

If your ultimate goal is speed cubing, you can buy a kit and assemble your own cube, adjusting the springs to your liking. The kit I bought also came with lube.
posted by bondcliff at 6:59 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with the above: one of the few things WD-40 is good at is dissolving adhesives and slowly breaking down plastics.
posted by pjaust at 7:07 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

WD-40 is not a lubricant, it is used for cleaning before lubrication. It will, most likely, break down the plastic of your cube.
posted by alchemist at 7:30 AM on March 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

Seconding that WD-40 is many things, but it's not a lubricant.
posted by GuyZero at 7:37 AM on March 24, 2014

I agree that WD40 is not a great idea as it requires constant re-application. A good silicone-based spray lubricant would work better.

* For those saying WD40 isn't a lubricant, the manufacturer lists lubrication as one of its primary uses.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:41 AM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Definitely silicone. Here's cube lube already in a syringe. $10 may seem like a lot, but that syringe will last a very long time.
posted by O9scar at 8:50 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just nthing do-not-do here as someone has has done this. WD40 is a water displacer. No matter how well you wipe down your lubricated cube, it will get on your hands and make your skin dry and cracked.
posted by rlk at 9:00 AM on March 24, 2014

Powdered Graphite will work too. A little goes a long way so be careful, too much will make a huge mess. Just a few puffs has worked great on my cube.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

On a related note, my 1982 era Rubiks cube still works great with the original application of Vaseline petroleum jelly applied when new. Thanks to the Vaseline I was able to get consistent sub 20 second solves (12 seconds is my fastest time). Stay away from WD-40.
posted by Leenie at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2014

It would be more accurate to say that WD-40 is a really crappy lubricant, but it works out to the same thing. It's slippery but it wears out very fast, and it gets sticky. What it is is an excellent solvent and cleaner, and one of the things it does best is dissolve sticker glue. Sticker glue like the glue holding the labels on your Cube in place. It also has a nasty tendency to partially dissolve plastics, which is another reason why it would be a bad choice on a Rubick's Cube. As others have suggested, a silicone lubricant would be a much better option. For general-purpose light duty lubrication I often recommend 3-in-1 Household Oil, but in this case a silicone spray would be ideal because it would be easier to get into the mechanism and is kinder to plastics. Also it smells like bananas.
posted by Scientist at 11:06 AM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

No. WD-40 is a penetrant not actually a lubricant. It's used by car, bicycle and motorcycle mechanics to rapidly unstick things like tight bolts or bonded parts or to dissolve old dirty lubricant out of bearings and such, but it's also well known to be a glue / plastic solvent, it eats rubber, and it dries out / vaporizes rapidly without leaving any sort of protective lubricant coating behind. It's essentially more accurately described as a cleaner and lube remover than a lube.

WD-40 will very likely destroy the plastic parts to a Rubiks' cube; it'll also likely dissolve the sticker glue and cause the colored stickers to drop off within a day or 2. I frequently use it as a solvent to remove sticker grime and tar from bike frames if that's of any help.

I would stick to using a safe lubricant that is recommended by experts. Plus WD-40 is kind of nasty crap that I wouldn't want to be breathing the fumes / have on my hands for extended periods either.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:53 PM on March 24, 2014

Sounds like a job for neolube. But, if vaseline's too much work, that won't be much easier.
posted by ctmf at 7:23 PM on March 24, 2014

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