Keeping windshield wiper blades maintained is an often-overlooked chore. If you neglect them for long, you might find it difficult to see them the next time you’re caught in a heavy rainstorm.
A quick cleaning is often not enough. The blades routinely require a more thorough cleaning to prevent leaving streaks on the windshield. Some people swear by WD40, a silicone-based spray that prevents water damage
But does it work and how should you apply it? This article will cover all the ins and outs of cleaning windshield wipers with WD40.
Can You Use WD40 on Wiper Blades?
Most people think of WD40 as a lubricant for door hinges and pinewood derby cars. But it’s a silicone-based spray primarily intended to prevent or fix water damage. WD40 stands for “Water Displacement, 40th Formula.”
WD40 is perfect for some quick rehab on your wiper blades. Those are made from rubber and need to form a tight fit to your windshield to shunt water off to the side.
Over time, that rubber might dry out and start to form little cracks. You need to regularly clean your blades and a little maintenance can extend their lives.
That’s where WD40 comes in. The silicone in the spray forms a seal to keep water from penetrating the rubber, which causes it to crack when it dries out.
Spray some WD40 onto a towel and wipe down the blades. You don’t need to use it a lot and you don’t want to spray it on the blades. We recommend doing it once a month, more if you get frequent heavy rains.
How Do You Lubricate Windshield Wipers?
Lubricating windshield wipers is a good idea to make sure they maintain a good fit for your windshield. That prevents streaking. While you might need to lubricate the joints, the blades will need more attention.
The first step is to clean the blades. White vinegar or denatured alcohol works great for this. Dampen a towel or cotton cloth and wipe the blades in the same direction until the towel stops picking up dirt and dust.
Spray some WD40 on a different towel or cotton cloth and wipe the blades just enough to coat the rubber. If you use too much, it can attract and hold dirt.
This won’t repair cracked rubber, but it will extend the lives of your wiper blades and save you money.
Are Silicone Sprays Good for Wiper Blades?
It’s commonly believed that silicone sprays like WD40 are used to lubricate metal joints. They aren’t. They’re used to prevent water damage and in very light cases remove corrosion. They work by forming a seal over what you spray them on to keep water out.
Silicone is waterproof. It can repel water in some cases for 20 years. The rubber of windshield wiper blades can dry out and crack if regularly exposed to water. So, a bit of silicone can go a long way to maintaining wiper blades that need a good fit to your windshield.
The trick is to use just enough to coat the blades.
Start by cleaning the blades by dampening a towel or cotton cloth with vinegar or denatured alcohol. Wipe the towel down the blades until they come up clean. Use different positions on the towel for maximum effectiveness.
Spray some WD40 on a different towel. You don’t want to spray it directly onto the blades because you don’t want to overdo it or apply it unevenly.
Wipe the blades with that towel until you can see the blades coated evenly. If the sun is out, they should glisten. If you use too much, it can catch and hold dust, which defeats the purpose of cleaning the blades.
What Are Some Alternatives to WD40 to Lubricate Windshield Wipers?
The old saw is that you can do 99 percent of household fix-it jobs with a roll of duct tape and a can of WD40. Both are versatile must-haves in your toolbox, but you’ll want options if one is unavailable. What else can you lubricate windshield wipers with if you don’t have WD40?
One alternative to using WD40 to keep your wiper blades soft is a simple regular cleaning. Eventually, the wiper blade will wear out, but keeping them regularly clean does almost as good a job of protecting them from sun and water as wiping them down with WD40.
If you really want to lube the blades, there are a couple of alternatives. One is petroleum jelly, which is a close cousin to WD40. Apply a dab on a rag and wipe the blades down well and let sit for 10 minutes.
Various cooking oils will also do the trick. Try to avoid oils that are solids at room temperature. You want it to remain liquid to avoid smearing it across your windshield.
Finally, rubbing alcohol softens wiper blades. Although rubbing alcohol will work, denatured is pure alcohol. It’ll clean without leaving deposits of the chemicals used to make it.
Do You Need to Lubricate Windshield Wipers?
You don’t need to regularly lubricate your windshield wipers. You will change them out every few years and the parts move slowly enough that they generally don’t freeze up.
If they start to squeak, you’ll probably need to lubricate something. Squeaking windshield wiper blades is a sure sign that something isn’t working right.
Lubricating the joints of your wiper arms is different than lubricating the blades themselves. Your arms will need a little bit of actual oil if they’re the cause of squeaking. Make sure you examine your arms first to determine the source. The easiest way to spot it is excess wear.
Your blades, on the other hand, can use some WD40 or other silicone spray on a towel or rag. Don’t spray directly onto the blade because you might not get an even application and you might get some on your windshield.
Using WD40 is a fast way to extend the life of your windshield wiper blades. It’ll save you money in replacements and comes in extra handy if you need wipers that are hard to come by.
The trick is to not apply it directly and not to use it too much. Just spray a little bit onto a towel and wipe the blades a couple of times. The silicone will help keep the rubber supple enough that it gets a snug fit against your windshield.
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