Lubricants for the Home

There's all kinds of stuff, some is junk, some are just short of black magic.

Oil

Well, the old standard 3-in-1 is OK, I guess, but it's not really great. It's not always plastic safe, i.e. can eat plastic over time. The original 3-in-1 was fish oil based, I believe. It's now "Severely Hydrotreated Heavy Naphthenic Oil" with less than 3 percent proprietary additive. (It's made by the WD40 company). Basically I think it's junk, and gums up after a while. I use it only on metal, and nothing important.

For better lubrication, try a silicon oil. Also my hobby of model trains made me very aware of how plastic can be destroyed by oil. I use my model trains "plastic compatible" oils for these situations, and you can get them in light, medium, and heavy oil. Hob-E-Lube is a good brand. Any hobby shop will have plastic compatible oil. Remember that oil is used on closely fitted bearings and surfaces.

Grease

Grease should be used on loose fitting bearing surfaces, or gear teeth. The lead screw of your garage door opener for example. Most quality greases are lithium based, and the nice stuff has moly (molybdenum disulfide) in it, slipperier than graphite, and "plates" the moving surfaces. 

I also use "anti-sieze", which is a very high temperature grease with some kind of "slippery" bits in it. Anti-sieze often also has nickle or copper in it. This is really "magic" stuff. It sticks to everything (and your fingers!) and I apply it to surfaces that might rust. I use it on lug nut threads, and with a toothbrush, apply a thin coat to the hubs of disk brakes, really eliminates surface rust. One ad showed a nut on a bolt left in sea water, the bolt rusted, but where the anti-sieze was, the nut turned easily. You can get this stuff in auto parts stores. Get some, a medium sized can will last you a lifetime.

For anything that has plastic gears, again, get a plastic compatible grease. Again, you can find this stuff in hobby stores, but it's not cheap if you have large gears. Usually, quality nylon gears are ok, but cheap stuff might be attacked by "ordinary" grease.

Another good find is spray white lithium grease. This is great stuff because it can penetrate right away, and then the "carrier" evaporates and you have grease. Great for getting the grease into stuff like gate hinges and the shafts of the rollers in garage doors. I use this stuff very often. Get the white stuff, so it does not stain.

Other lubricants

Another mainstay of mine is spray silicon. Now there are all kinds of grades and two things to look for. First, they all have a solvent in them that evaporates leaving the silicon. This solvent varies from brand to brand. Get one with a solvent that does not attack plastic a lot. I say a lot because I have never found one that did not to a degree. Be sure to remember this when using it on plastic. Test first. The second thing to look for is how much silicon really is in the can. The best way to check this is spray some on your finger in the store and rub your fingers together until the solvent evaporates. You will see right away who is giving you a lot of silicon, and who is selling you a big can of solvent! The Mechanics brand is good.

Armorall - type liquids. This may seem strange, but lubrication of rubber, like the door and trunk seals in your car is a good thing. Using silicon spray subjects them to solvents which ages the rubber. Armorall-type protectants have silicon in them, but are water based, not solvent based. Now, the Armorall brand has changed the formulation, and is crap in my opinion. Get the stuff in the bright lime green bottle by Turtle Wax, works great. Yeah, everyone has heard the old wives tales about it attacking plastic. Well, I've used it on plastic and rubber since the late 60's and there are SOME plastics that do not react well, but I have only found a few in my life.

WD-40? Crap in my opinion. It's mostly kerosene, but it gums up after a while. Don't waste your money. If you need a penetrating spray, get something by Liquid Wrench or CRC. If you need an oil, get an oil, if you need a slippery surface, use silicon spray.