Can You Use WD40 on Fishing Reels? [Yes or NO?]

Can You Use WD40 on Fishing Reels

Fishing reels are the most complicated parts of any angler`s equipment ... 

If maintained in the right way, moving parts of a reel can handle a lot of pressure that occurs as a result of fighting large fish.

Cleaning and fixing your fishing reel will ensure its longevity, while greasing and oiling will ensure smooth operation. When doing so, you need to use proper products.

Many anglers ask can you use WD40 on fishing reels, and the answer is NO, although there are certain exceptions to this rule. Although some will tell you that it is perfectly fine, that is a BIG MISTAKE. Always use reel safe products for cleaning and lubricating.

And it is not just your reel that may get damaged. Everything you use on it may end up on your line, and get transferred to other parts of fishing equipment. Different materials react differently when in contact with certain chemicals.

Although WD40 has some great applications, and probably every person has one, that doesn’t mean that it will magically make everything perfect.

Here I will briefly explain everything you need to know about WD40, how to use it, and problems that may occur if you use it on a fishing reel.



Get my FREE fishing e-book where you will find my PRO Tips!

Free Fishing Ebook

What is WD40 and What is It Actually Good For?

WD40 is a spray that contains different chemicals that have various applications, including degreasing, removing rust, protecting metals from corrosion, cleaning, but also lubricating. I know, degreasing and lubricating in one product sounds a bit crazy, but WD40 is really able to do a lot.

Many people use it to clean tools, use it as a lubricant when something is stuck and needs to be opened, some will even use it on bicycles, although that may not be the best idea. You can also use it to remove paint form floors! Basically, there are many situations where this product can be a life saver.

As you can see, the product works wonders. Personally, I always have one in my car, but that doesn’t mean I will use it on expensive reels.

Although advertised as the best all-purpose degreaser and lubricant, it actually has one big flaw that you won’t find written on the product. It attracts and traps dirt and dust.

And because of its dual properties, it can actually dissolve existing oil and grease that is used for lubrication of other parts.

Related: If you want to learn more, you can also check and read my article about fishing reel lubricant alternatives.

For What Purpose Can You Use WD40 on Fishing Reels?

I would always advise everyone to use cleaning and lubricating products that are safe for reels.

Yes, I know they can cost a bit more, but if you have some high-end reels, it is worth it.

WD40 has limited use on fishing reels, and you should use it only during annual maintenance. You probably know that reels have to be cleaned and lubricated regularly, and once a year, you should completely disassemble it, clean every part, remove old grease and oils, remove corrosion if there is any, and then assemble it again after you lubricated it.

WD40 may be used to remove corrosion, or to disassemble the reel if something got stuck. But, other than that, you should not use it.

Make sure to remove any WD40 residue from reel parts after you finish cleaning. Never use it to lubricate your reel.

Is WD40 Bad for Fishing Rod, Line and Guides? Or Good?

Everything that is used on the reel will sooner or later get transferred onto the line, and it will come in contact with your rod and line guides.

Some anglers will even use WD40 directly on the lines, to grease them.

Various materials are used for line and rod production, and you can’t always know will there be a negative reaction to WD40. If you are lucky, nothing will happen, but you can’t count on that.

First of all, you don’t wand WD40 in waters you are fishing at, because it is toxic for the environment.

Secondly, prolonged exposure of lines to chemicals in it can possibly cause damage.

The reason why anglers use it is because it is excellent for water displacement, and it keeps the lines and inner rings of line guides free from corrosion.

For that purpose, WD40 is great, but other than that, it can do more harm than good.

When it comes to mono lines, they are the type that can handle WD40 well, but that doesn’t mean you should do it.

There are excellent line and lure conditioners on the market and you can use those as an alternative to WD40.

When it comes to the rods, try to avoid it. It is petroleum based and can have negative effects on carbon and similar materials. Some anglers use it to clean their rods, but it is the same as with the reel. Use it if something gets stuck, but make sure that you remove all of it after you are finished.

Don’t forget that WD40 attracts dust and dirt.

Whatever ends up on your equipment will stay “glued” onto the WD coating and if that happens on moving parts, those dirt particles will cause abrasion and wear and tear.

So, What To Use to Oil, Lubricate or Clean a Fishing Reel?

Now when you know can you use WD40 on fishing reels or not, it is time to give you some alternative ideas.

As you may already know grease goes on gears and oil goes on other reel parts.

You can find both products that are made specially for reels. There are even reel cleaners and corrosion removers that are completely safe to use, and those products will not cause any damage.

Anglers that have very cheap reels can play with whatever they want, but you will never see someone with a $500 reel using WD40.

If you do not want to buy specialized reel products, there is alternative that is safe, and that is any high-quality gun oil. Actually, any kind of high-quality grade light machine oils may be used. Some will even use sewing machine oils for their reels, and that is perfectly fine.


Can you use WD40 on fishing reels or not is a common question among anglers, and in my opinion, it is better to avoid it. Even for cleaning, which is the only exception to the rule, you can use more specialized reel products.

WD40 attracts dirt and dust which can later damage sensitive parts of your reel. In addition to that, it will dissolve existing oils and grease that are there to ensure smooth operation.

It is a useful product, and I advise you to always have one nearby, just don’t use it on your reels and save it for some other tools and devices.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

Affiliate Disclaimer:

Slo-fishing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. We also participates in eBay Partner Network, FishingBooker, ClickBank and Teespring affiliate programs. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.