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I have just returned from a great holiday in Dorset, not far from the Devon border. We were lucky with the weather and spent much of our time on the beach. It was a totally relaxing holiday only slightly marred by the oil washed up onto the beach from the cargo ship Napoli which was beached off Branscombe on the Devon coast in January 2007.
Despite my nagging to avoid the tar we still managed to get our trainers, legs, towels and various other items of clothing/ bodily places spotted with oil. Off I went into the local village hardware store for some help. "Do you have anything to…" I started to ask. No need to finish the sentence. "Get tar off things?" asked the storekeeper. I obviously wasn't the first to ask! Back to the holiday cottage I went with some WD-40. Now I did have some of this back at home but strangely I hadn't thought to pack it. I had used it in the past to stop squeaking door hinges and to release tight nuts (no sniggering at the back) on the stabilisers on my daughters' bike.
As instructed by the shopkeeper I sprayed the WD-40 onto the beach towels, bums of jeans etc gave a little rub with a damp j-cloth, poured on neat clothes washing liquid and put in the washing machine. Magic. Oil gone. Brilliant. The can does warn that it may cause drying to skin but we didn't experience any problems when I sprayed it onto the children's hands and legs to remove tar stains, although it was washed off immediately with regular hand soap. There is no way the tar would have come off the skin so easily with just soap and water.
So what is WD-40? It was first developed in the 1950's to remove water and so prevent corrosion on electrical circuits. According to the product website www.wd40.co.uk the WD stands for water displacement and the 40 is because it was the 40th formula attempt. It is manufactured and marketed by the WD40 Company which is based in San Diego in California and is now sold in more than 160 countries. In the U.K. it is distributed by the WD-40 Company who can be contacted at PO Box 440, Milton Keynes, MK11 3LF.
It comes in a distinctive blue and yellow can with a small red cap. Just pull the cap off to access the push button spay mechanism. Note - no child proof cap so this definitely needs keeping out of reach of small inquisitive hands. It also comes with a very handy thin plastic tube like a straw which can be attached to the spray spout so you can spray with accuracy into hard to reach places. It comes out the can as a clear runny liquid and has a fairly strong sweetish smell which I don't think is unpleasant. Maybe an unpleasant perfume should be added to prevent people from liking it too much!
The exact ingredients of WD-40 are a secret (a bit like Coca-Cola) but WD-40 is a petroleum based liquid and as such is potentially highly inflammable so should be kept away from naked flames and used in a well ventilated environment. Whilst it has many uses it should not be used on wood, certain kinds of plastics or rubber. The other cautions listed on the can are really common sense such as don't breath the gas vapour or fumes, don't swallow (if you do then don't induce vomiting but call a doctor) and don't pierce or burn the can.
The can claims that WD-40 will stop squeaks, will clean and protect, loosen rusted parts, free sticky mechanisms and will drive out moisture. Really this is something of an understatement. On the official WD-40 website they list 2000 uses! (www.wd40.com.au/List/list.html). Even allowing for some duplication this would seem to be one very versatile little can.
It is possible to buy WD-40 in a selection of shapes and sizes from a 'pen' which contains 7.7mls ( you press on the tip and the WD40 comes out); 100ml, 250 ml, or 400ml aerosol cans; and 5 and 25 litre containers which I assume are for trade use. I bought the 250ml can which is what I am reviewing here. This cost me £2.89 although I expect it is slightly cheaper at the larger DIY stores.
So whether you want to remove tar from your beach towel, stop a squeaky hinge, remove sticky residues, protect your garden equipment from rusting, remove crayon from walls, or chewing gum from hair then WD-40 is just what you need. In fact it seems to fix everything!
WD-40 is readily available at most DIY stores, motoring shops and supermarkets. It is good value for money as you only need to use a little at a time so the can will last for ages. An added bonus is that the can is CFC free.
I would certainly recommend having this in the house as its potential uses are endless and I may even take it with me on holiday next time!