A Household Staple
Look in pretty much any medicine cabinet and you’ll probably find a tub of Vaseline. The gelatinous substance—also known by the generic term “petroleum jelly”—was invented by chemist Robert Chesebrough in 1859 to heal wounded or burned skin. Today, Vaseline has become a common household staple, thanks to its slick composition of natural waxes and mineral oils. Here are 16 unexpected ways to use the inexpensive multitasking jelly around the house.
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 mask 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
Add Decorative Detailing
A tub of Vaseline can help create a distressed paint effect on furniture or walls. Add a generous coat of the product onto a paintbrush and draw a design on the surface of your choice, then paint over the entire thing. The paint won’t adhere to the Vaseline-coated areas, which will result in an interesting two-toned finish.
De-Scuff 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.
Related: 10 Ways to Use Leather in Your Next Project
Keep Glue Fresh
Keep glues and adhesives from drying out by smoothing a dab of Vaseline under the cap and around the rim. This will also prevent a buildup of dried glue from sealing the cap shut.
Vaseline acts as a lubricant, so you can use it as a 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: 10 Easy Hacks to Fix a Squeaky Bed
Fix Frozen Locks
One of our favorite uses for Vaseline is lubricating a keyhole to prevent the lock from freezing. To do this, apply Vaseline to both the lock and the key, then 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.
Lubricate Your 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. You won't need as much elbow grease to unscrew the bulb when it reaches the end of its life.
Related: 15 "Under $100" Lighting Solutions for Every Room
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, 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.)
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: 8 "Must Have" Tools for Home Improvement
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 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.
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.
Related: 12 Brilliant Hacks for Your Best-Ever Halloween Pumpkin
You can use Vaseline to 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 as 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 the bird feeder, coat the pole or hanging bracket with a layer of Vaseline—the squirrels will slide right off!
To fix minor scratches, water rings, or small stains on wood furniture, cover the imperfection with a thick coat of petroleum jelly, 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: Beyond the Brush: 7 Other Tools You Need to Refinish Furniture
Banish Soap Scum
Vaseline works wonders on soap scum. Apply a small amount to faucets, handles, and bathroom tiles, 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, you can also use Vaseline to lubricate the threads of the faucet handles to keep them operating properly.
Loosen a Stuck Zipper
The next time you can’t get your handbag or jacket to close, using petroleum jelly to lubricate the zipper may help. 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!
Help Curtains Glide on Their Rods
If the curtains in your home have grommets that get caught on the curtain rod, rubbing the rod with a little Vaseline will help the curtains slide more easily. (This trick works on shower curtains, too.)
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!