Polishing Aluminum With WD40: Can You Use WD40 on Aluminum?

People try any solution in a bid to save money, there are RV owners who will try using different brand products even though the product is not made for the task at hand. Sometimes you just have to break down and pay the extra money for the right product that will do the job you want.

Can you use WD40 on aluminum? Using WD40 on aluminum is possible but it is not a long-term solution. Some people have reported limited success with using WD40 as a polish. The shine only seems to last a few days but overall, if you are going to polish your RV or travel trailer then buy the real thing.

To learn more about WD40 and polishing your surfaces just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you have the information you need in order to use this product carefully and correctly. WD40 is great at loosening tough to loosen nuts and bolts.

Can You Use WD40 On Aluminum?


Nothing is stopping you from using this product on aluminum. If you do not use it over a long period, you might see some great results. Some people have said that they get a good shine after using WD40 but then they may not get the shine for a long period.

But the debate is ongoing as some people have pointed out that one of the ingredients inside this product is Phosphoric acid which is one of the acids used to etch aluminum before anodizing the metal.

Keep in mind that there is no wax capability in this lubricant. It may clear away dirty water, dirt, a little bit of loose rust, and other contaminants but it has no polish inside of it to protect the metal once you are done.

The WD in WD40 stands for water displacement and that is its top priority. It moves water away from an item so that it can work better. Some people spray it on their ignition wires and other electrical parts to make sure that no water interferes with their operation.

While this product can be used on aluminum it may not be the best choice you have available.

Is WD 40 Safe On Aluminum?

Yes and no is probably the best answer that can be given. For short-term use, there should not be any problem. The chemical goes on and helps remove the dirt and grime as you wipe creating a nice sheen once you are done.

However, that shine is said not to last for very long. Short-term, part-time use should be okay when it comes to using WD40 on aluminum. It is the long-term use you have to worry about.

There are different acids inside the lubricant that can build up over time and cause a little damage to the metal. Some people have reported pitting can take place if you use this chemical for long periods.

But how long you use it before that pitting shows up is anyone’s guess. It is a good solution to removing all the bugs that have hit your trailer as you go down the road. yet, you should not expect it to have long-lasting effects when it comes to shine.

It is not a product that will beat out polish or wax. It is a good temporary solution when you have nothing else to use.

Will WD40 Protect Aluminum?


Not really and that may be a bit cold to say but WD40’s purpose is not to apply any protective coating to metal. Its primary purpose is to displace water so different parts won’t rust or not work as well as they should.

Another priority of WD40 is to loosen up the hold rust has on screws, bolts, and other metal parts. Its ingredients have it working as a solvent or a rust dissolver and don't work as a true lubricant will.

That is another weakness of this product. It does not have any polish ingredients and it does not have any real lubricant ingredients as well. Any lubricant applications only last for a short time when you spray WD40 on too tight bolts, etc.

There are no real protective ingredients in this material as it is designed to remove those contaminants from their current location. Dissolving capability means that there are no protective abilities in the product.

Once you spray on WD40 to get rid of bugs and other duties, do not expect it to protect the metal once you hit the road again. Most likely the WD40 will evaporate and leave your aluminum without any protection whatsoever.

Can I Use WD40 to Clean Aluminum?

This is possible as it has been reported to shine up rock guards and make them look nice. But the story is the same for rock guards as it is for other aluminum parts, the shine only lasts for a little while, then you have to do it all over again.

Other people use it to clean the bugs off their TT or RV especially the Airstream models. It does a good job at removing those unwanted messes and makes the aluminum gleam again.

That is one good alternative use for WD40 but it is not a long-term solution either. WD40 is not made to be a cleanser but a dissolver. It will remove dirt and grime and if used in the long term it can ruin the finish of your aluminum exterior or other parts.

It is possible that you can clean up some tarnish and some oxidation that has formed on the metal but that too may only be a short-term solution. You may have to use the product regularly to keep the aluminum looking great and free from those two destructive elements.

Does WD 40 Polish Aluminum?


One can say they are getting a polished finish when they see that gleam that comes to the aluminum once they have finished their work. WD40 will make the metal shine a little better but how long that shine will last is anyone’s guess.

This product has no real polish ingredients in it so any great polished look you get will be because of the dis-solving ingredients getting rid of harmful elements that have latched on to the metal.

Those ingredients do to those elements what it does to rust and other destructive elements that attach themselves to screws and bolts, etc. So one is not really getting a polished look. They are getting a nice cleaned look that may resemble polish when the polishing is done.

Without the polish ingredients, the metal is only cleaned and not buffed up to a brilliant shine that will protect the metal as the days go by. That brings us to another point, you cannot buff WD40 in order to bring the best out of the metal.

This is why WD40 is a last gasp effort to make your aluminum parts look better. It will clean it up but once the WD40 is gone the aluminum will get dirty again.

Polishing Aluminum With WD40

As we just explained, you really can’t polish aluminum with WD40. There are no polishing ingredients to help bring the metal’s good looks to the surface and have them last.

At best, you will get a nice shine or gleam look like you just washed your car but that is about it. WD40 is designed to be a solvent, not a wax or a polish. When you apply solvent to different elements, those elements will be removed leaving behind something better than what was there before.

You can try rubbing the WD40 in but you would be wasting your effort. It dissolves dirt, grime, rust, tarnish, and so on. It does nothing to enhance the aluminum parts except to make them look cleaner.

Even when you use it as a lubricant, you should always follow up its application with a true lubricant product. WD40 is not designed to act as a lubricant either, even though it helps loosen up stuck nuts and bolts, etc.

The reason WD40 looks like a lubricant is the same reason it can bring a shine to aluminum. It dissolves the rust, etc, that is holding the metal hardware in place. The product does not lubricate it.

What is The Easiest Way to Polish Aluminum?


The easiest way to polish aluminum is to buy a polish product that is made to make aluminum shine. These polishes also have protective ingredients so that the metal should not wear out sooner than you want it to.

The first step in polishing would be to wash your rig with soap and water. Then let it dry. You may have to use a degreaser in a second attempt to get the metal clean if the first attempt did not remove those hard to remove stains.

Once the rig is clean, follow the instructions for your next step. it is best to follow what directions the manufacturer provides as they have tried their product out in different ways and before selling it. They know the best way to apply the polish.

After applying the polish, you will need to buff it out. This takes a little work but your results should make you proud of the effort you put in to make your rig shine. Some people say that in between degreasing or washing and applying the polish, you should sand the surface.

Sanding is said to be the best way to get the best shine out of aluminum. Sanding can remove those rough patches that do not reflect light very well and give the rig a duller look than it should have. Sanding helps you get the metal to the point where it will reflect the light very well.

How do You Make Aluminum Shiny?


There are three basic steps to this process. The first is to clean the surface of the metal and this can be done using a good dishwashing liquid that cuts grease. Mix it with some warm water so you get the most suds.

You can try to use water and vinegar if you do not want to use up any dish soap. Or you can use a commercial cleaner if you think that is the best option to go with. The second step would be to look over the aluminum to see if there is any oil or grease build-up.

After cleaning, you should use a degreaser if you find those spots. Or you can use a good paint thinner if you do not have a degreaser handy. The third step is essential but not mandatory.

If you want the metal to really shine, you take some coarse sandpaper and start sanding down those rough spots. Work your way up to fine sandpaper to make sure you get a nice smooth finish when you are done. The smoother the metal the better the reflective qualities.

Step number four has you applying the polish per the instructions on the can or bottle. Do a thorough job so the metal and finish don't have any weak spots. In other words, do not miss a spot.

When you are done applying the polish, buff it out so the metal looks like it is brand new again. This will take a little work and you shouldn’t stop until you are satisfied with the shine.

Some Final Words

While WD40 may be handy and cheaper than regular wax or polish, it is not a great polisher. In fact, it is not a polisher at all but a solvent. If you use this material you will have limited success but no protection for the metal you apply it to.

When you want a polished finish to your rig, go with the right products designed for that purpose. You wouldn’t use polish to loosen rusted nuts and bolts.

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