Learning, Concepts of Electricity,

Does WD40 Conduct Electricity?

You may know that oil and similar lubricants are not good conductors of electricity due to their nature of inhibiting fast current flow. One common question is the conductivity of WD-40, a popular solution used in many household and industrial applications.

In essence, WD-40 is not a conductor but an insulator, exhibiting a dielectric loss strength of 35KV. In this article, we comprehensively understand how WD-40 interacts with electricity, offering insights into its safe and effective usage.

Does WD-40 Conduct Electricity?

WD-40, like oil, is an insulator, not a conductor. Its dielectric loss strength of 35KV makes it suitable for removing moisture from electrical parts, rescuing equipment exposed to flooding, and enhancing electrical connections.

An additional advantage of WD-40 Specialist Contact Cleaner is its residue-free characteristic. Unlike other contact cleaners, it does not leave deposits that could accumulate, leading to complications like short circuits.

This non-conductive, non-corrosive, and swift-acting solution is optimal for cleaning delicate electrical components, efficiently eliminating dirt, dust, moisture, and flux residue without causing harm.

Why Does WD-40 Not Conduct Electricity?

WD-40 is specifically designed to function effectively as an insulator. When it dries, it leaves a thin film on your electrical components that does not interfere with electrical connections. Thus, it is safe to apply on electrical equipment, provided the equipment is switched off, and the WD-40 is allowed to dry completely before powering it again.

Comparison of WD-40 with Similar Products

ProductDielectric StrengthPrimary UsesSafety FeaturesPrice Range
WD-4035KVLubrication, rust prevention, moisture displacementNon-conductive, flammable, should not be used on hot surfaces$5-$10 for a standard can
CRC 2-2639KVLubrication, corrosion protection, moisture displacementNon-conductive, flammable, safe on plastics$7-$12 for a standard can
DeoxITSafe to use on various materials, including metal and plasticCleaning, improving connectivity, and long-term protection of electrical contactsNot stated by the manufacturer, but typically used for lubrication and protection$15-$20 for a standard can
3-IN-ONENot stated by manufacturer, but typically used for lubrication and protectionLubrication, rust preventionNon-conductive, flammable, safe on most surfaces$3-$7 for a standard can

Please note:

  • The dielectric strengths mentioned are typical values and can vary depending on the specific product variant or conditions of use.
  • Prices are estimates and can vary based on location, retailer, and package size.
  • All products should be used in a well-ventilated area away from heat sources and open flames due to their flammability.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions when using these products.

Common Misconceptions

  1. Misconception: WD-40 improves electrical conductivity. This common misconception likely stems from WD-40’s ability to displace water, which can improve the performance of damp electrical systems. However, it’s important to note that WD-40 is not a conductor of electricity. It’s classified as an insulator or dielectric substance with a dielectric strength of 35KV. So, while it can help remove moisture that’s impairing conductivity, it doesn’t inherently improve the conductivity of an electrical system.
  2. Misconception: WD-40 is safe to use on all electronics. While WD-40 is often safe for many electronic applications, it isn’t universally safe for all electronics. Some devices or components could potentially be sensitive to WD-40, and it can cause issues if it gets into certain parts of electronic devices. Moreover, its flammable nature should be used cautiously around devices that generate heat or sparks.
  3. Misconception: WD-40 can be used to fix any electrical issue. WD-40 is versatile and can address various issues related to moisture and corrosion. However, it’s not a panacea for all electrical problems. For instance, it can’t repair broken circuits, restore fried components, or increase the life of a dying battery.
  4. Misconception: WD-40 can be applied to live electrical systems. WD-40 should not be applied to live or energized electrical systems. Applying it to a live system can be hazardous due to the risk of sparks or short circuits. It’s important to ensure the system is powered down before applying WD-40.

Can WD-40 Be Used to Spray Electrical Connections?

WD-40’s fast-drying, residue-free properties and efficiency in eliminating over 95% of general surface contaminants make it the go-to solution for cleaning electrical contacts. It ensures optimal equipment functioning and is safe for printed circuit boards, controls, battery terminals, switches, precision instruments, and electric panels.

Should You Be Concerned about Damaging Electronic Equipment with WD-40?

WD-40 is generally considered safe for use on electronics due to its non-conductive nature. However, caution is advised if applying it inside devices that may become excessively hot, as WD-40 is flammable.

Additionally, some electronics may create sparks, posing a risk due to the flammability of WD-40. It’s best to exercise caution when applying it to devices like phones and computers that may be difficult to repair if damage occurs.

Can WD-40 Trigger a Short Circuit?

While WD-40 does not conduct electricity, it is flammable, and the aerosol form can pose a fire risk when dry if not cleaned off properly after application. This potential fire hazard exists even though it won’t lead directly to a short circuit.

It’s also important to note that WD-40 is petroleum-based and not recommended for use on certain types of older electronic equipment, such as vacuum tubes. Heating can cause complications as the residue from WD-40 can conduct electricity at high voltages and may emit an unpleasant odor when warm.

WD-40 cleaner

Can WD-40 Be Used on Electrical Switches?

WD-40 Contact Cleaner is safe and effective for cleaning electrical switches. It does not conduct electricity and removes over 90% of surface dirt without leaving any residue. Always ensure the switch is turned off before application.

WD-40’s ability to reach into small, difficult-to-access places for cleaning and lubrication makes it suitable for maintaining electrical switches.


Video References:

WD40 Specialist Asia

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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