21 Household Problems You Can Fix With Vaseline
Though it has long been a medicine-cabinet fixture, household uses for Vaseline—including furniture maintenance and DIY repairs—show that the petroleum jelly deserves a place in your toolbox, too.
Look in pretty much any medicine cabinet and you’ll probably find a tub of Vaseline. We’re all familiar with the translucent, gelatinous substance, but exactly what is Vaseline? The history of Vaseline, which is also known as petroleum jelly, begins in 1859, when chemist Robert Chesebrough first distilled and refined the healing jelly from “rod wax,” a by-product of oil drilling. The oil workers had found that this machinery-clogging substance was good at soothing the cuts and burns that were so common on the job. By 1870 Chesebrough began distributing the new product, and he received a patent for the process in 1872.
Today, Vaseline has become a common household staple, thanks to its slick composition of natural waxes and mineral oils. Discover the many benefits of Vaseline for yourself by trying out a few of these unexpected ways to use the inexpensive multitasking jelly around the house.
1. Protect Surfaces While Painting
Do you have a painting project in your future? If so, try Vaseline as a substitute for painter’s tape. Apply a thin layer to surfaces where you don’t want the paint to adhere, such as window glass, door hinges or knobs, and the edges of linoleum, tile, or wood floors. When you’ve finished painting, wipe away the gel with a wet rag: No scraping required!
RELATED: 10 Things You Should Never Paint
2. Add Decorative Detailing
A tub of Vaseline can help create a distressed effect on painted furniture or walls. Add a generous coat of the product onto a paint brush, use it to draw a design on the surface of your choice, and then paint over the entire thing. Because the paint won’t adhere to the Vaseline-coated areas, you’ll be left with an interesting two-tone finish.
3. Unscuff Your Shoes
Use Vaseline petroleum jelly as a quick alternative to leather polish on scuffed shoes, boots, handbags, baseball gloves, and leather furniture. Applying petroleum jelly and buffing it with a cloth or cotton pad will shine your shoes in no time.
4. Keep Glue Fresh
Vaseline has many talents, but one of our favorites is its ability to prevent glues and adhesives from drying out. Smoothing a dab of Vaseline under the cap and around the rim of a glue bottle will prevent any buildup of dried glue from sealing the cap shut.
RELATED: The Right Glue for Every Repair Job
5. Silence Squeaky Hinges
Many uses of Vaseline capitalize on its effectiveness as a lubricant, which makes it a great substitute for WD-40. Apply a thin layer of the gel on squeaky or sticking door hinges, cabinets, and windows, and on the tracks of sliding glass doors to keep things moving smoothly. You can also use petroleum jelly to lubricate the drawers, racks, shelves, and door seal of your refrigerator.
RELATED: 15 Easy Fixes for a Squeaky Bed
6. Fix Frozen Locks
One of our favorite uses for Vaseline is to lubricate a keyhole to prevent the lock from freezing. To do this, apply Vaseline to both the lock and the key, insert the key into the lock, and work it back and forth to coat the mechanism. The petroleum jelly will keep excess moisture (which can potentially turn to ice) out of the tumbler.
7. Lubricate Light Bulbs
At times, reaching up to unscrew a burned-out light bulb from a socket is no easy feat. The next time you’re changing bulbs, be proactive: Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the threads of the new bulb before screwing it in. This way, you won’t need as much elbow grease to unscrew the bulb when it reaches the end of its life.
RELATED: How to Remove a Light Bulb
8. Remove Stains
Vaseline can remove some stains, such as those from candle wax, chewing gum, crayons, and makeup, from clothing, linens, and furniture. Dab Vaseline on the stain with a damp cloth, and then let it sink in for a few seconds. Blot carefully until the stain is removed, keeping in mind that you may need to repeat the process several times. (Beware: As Vaseline itself can stain, you may need to follow up with liquid dish soap to get rid of any residual oil.)
9. Fight Rust on Tools
Here’s how to keep your tools and machinery in tip-top condition: Rub Vaseline onto the dry blades and edges between uses. The protective coating of gel wards off rust and decay.
RELATED: How to Remove Rust From Tools
10. Battle Battery Corrosion
Corroded car batteries can be an inconvenience and a frustrating financial burden. Help prevent corrosion, even in the coldest weather, by lubricating your battery with Vaseline. To do this, disconnect the battery terminals and clean them with a wire brush. Then, reconnect the terminals and cover the connections with a layer of Vaseline to shield them from moisture.
11. Keep Jack-o’-Lanterns From Rotting
When Halloween rolls around, remember to apply a protective barrier of Vaseline to the carved edges and interior of your jack-o’-lantern. The gel will help prevent rot, keeping your pumpkin fresher for longer.
12. Ward off Pests
Vaseline can help ward off ants, bugs, and other pesky pests. A thin layer spread on windowsills and door thresholds will trap crawling insects, keeping them away from your family and pets. You can also use Vaseline like natural flypaper: Trap bugs by placing a small amount of the petroleum jelly in a jar lid. Once the pests are stuck, throw away the whole lid. Finally, if squirrels keep raiding your bird feeder, coat the pole or hanging bracket with a layer of Vaseline—the squirrels will slide right off!
13. Repair Furniture Scratches
To fix minor scratches, water rings, or small stains on wood furniture, cover the imperfection with a thick coat of petroleum jelly, and then let it sit for 24 hours. Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth, rub what remains into the wood, and go over the area with furniture polish.
RELATED: 9 Fast Furniture Fixes You Can Do Yourself
14. Banish Soap Scum
Vaseline works wonders on soap scum. Apply a small amount to faucets, handles, and bathroom tiles, and then allow the gel to soak into the soap scum for a few minutes. Wipe clean, and buff with a soft cloth. While you’re in the bathroom, use Vaseline to lubricate the threads of the faucet handles to keep them operating properly.
15. Loosen a Stuck Zipper
The next time you can’t get your handbag or jacket to close, try using petroleum jelly to lubricate the zipper. Rub both the top and underside of the zipper’s track with a thin layer of Vaseline, and give the zipper a tug. It should now open and close smoothly!
RELATED: How to Fix a Stuck Zipper
16. Help Curtains Glide on Their Rods
If the grommets of your curtains get caught on the rod, rub the rod with a little Vaseline to help the curtains slide more easily. (This trick works on shower curtains too.)
17. Remove Adhesive From Surfaces
Vaseline is effective at removing stubborn price tags left on glassware. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the tag and let it sit for a few minutes before gently scraping off the residue. This method works on plastic and metal surfaces as well.
RELATED: How to Remove Sticker Residue
18. Prevent Buildup on Shovel Blades
To stop snow from clinging to the blade when you’re shoveling snow, coat the blade front and back with Vaseline. This will help the snow slide off the blade more easily, prevent ice and snow from accumulating, and protect it from moisture.
19. Polish Stainless Steel
Polish and protect your stainless steel appliances with Vaseline. Simply apply a thin layer to cover the entire surface, and then buff clean with a dry cloth.
RELATED: How to Polish Stainless Steel
20. Create a DIY Fire Starter
Cotton balls are highly flammable, especially when soaked in petroleum jelly, aka Vaseline. To make a DIY fire starter, simply roll a bunch of cotton balls in Vaseline until they are fully saturated. Toss three or four into the hearth to get your fire going.
21. Protect Garden Hoses From Corrosion
Prevent your garden hose from leaking or corroding with a light coat of Vaseline. Simply lube the threads of the hose’s connector with Vaseline to help the hose connect more smoothly and provide a seal against leaks.