Can You Use WD40 on Fishing Reels?

A fishing reel is an essential and the most complicated part of fishing equipment. A quality fishing reel can withstand the pressure of reeling in massive fish for a long time when maintained correctly. 

Regularly cleaning, greasing, and oiling a fishing reel will ensure its longevity and smooth operation. While there are many fishing reel oils and lubes to choose from, many anglers ask if can you use WD40 on fishing reels.

No, you shouldn’t use WD40 for regular maintenance of your fishing reels. WD40 acts as a lubricant, rust preventative, penetrant, and moisture displacer. WD40 has many uses but is not suitable for cleaning fishing reels. WD40 can only be used to remove corrosion or when disassembling the reel.

This article will tell you more about WD40 and when to use it on fishing reels. Keep reading to learn what you should use instead of WD40 to clean a fishing reel and how to clean a fishing reel using WD40.

Is WD40 Bad for Fishing Reels?

Is WD40 Bad for Fishing Reels

WD40 spray has more than 2000 confirmed uses. It has various applications, including removing rust, degreasing, protecting metals from corrosion, cleaning, displacing moisture, and lubricating. 

Although many people use it to clean tools, remove paint from floors, or clean and polish brass or gold, WD40 isn’t recommended for cleaning and lubricating fishing reels. It’s always better for anglers to use cleaning oils and lubricants made specifically for fishing reels.

WD40 isn’t bad for fishing reels per se, but it isn’t good, either. The only time anglers should use WD40 is during annual maintenance to remove corrosion or when they need to disassemble the reel to remove something that got stuck. Other than that, you shouldn’t use WD40 on your fishing reels.

When using WD40 to remove corrosion and annual maintenance, remove all traces of WD40 spray from all reel parts after you finish cleaning. Do not use WD40 to lubricate your reels.

Don’t forget that all products used on a fishing reel will, at some point, come into contact with the fishing line and get transferred to the fishing rod and guides. If short-term exposure to WD40 doesn’t cause any damage, long-term exposure can weaken the fishing line and cause it to break.

Another thing to consider is that WD40 isn’t particularly environmentally friendly. Although WD40 won’t leave nearly as much oil in the water as a boat engine, an oily residue will remain. There’s also a chance that any fish you catch will swallow some WD40 too.  

When to Use WD40 on Fishing Reels?

WD40 has limited use when it comes to fishing reels. This multi-use cleaner and degreaser should only be used for the annual maintenance of fishing reels. 

As an angler, you probably know that fishing reels have to be cleaned and lubricated regularly to work smoothly and properly. Besides regular maintenance, a fishing reel must be completely disassembled once a year.

During the annual maintenance, anglers can use WD40 to disassemble the reel, clean every part, remove old grease and oil, and remove corrosion, if there is any.

When all parts are cleaned, remove traces of WD40 spray, apply fishing reel lubricant, and assemble the reel again. 

How to Properly Use WD40 on Fishing Reels

Cleaning and maintaining a fishing reel using a WD40 is relatively simple. To clean the fishing reel properly, you’ll need a clean microfiber cloth, WD40 multi-use spray, fishing reel oil and lubricant, a small brush, a screwdriver, and distilled water. 

Follow these steps to maintain your fishing reels with WD40 properly:

1. Clean the Reel Coil

Unscrew the center screw of the reel to remove the wire coil and then check it for any foreign substances. Use a small brush to remove particles and submerge the coil in distilled water for a few hours.

Rinse the coil and dry it completely using paper towels or a soft cloth.

2. Clean and Lubricate the Rotating Mechanism

Wipe the reel’s exterior using a clean, moist cloth. Next, clean and lubricate the reel’s moving parts, including the central shaft and area where the coil was using a fishing reel lubricant.

3. Lubricate the Bail and Line Spool

Clean the bail joint using a WD40 multi-use spray and then oil it with lubricant to ensure the joint’s opening and closing mechanism is smooth. Spread a touch of grease on the line spool too.

4. Lubricate the Handle & Inner Workings

Remove the handle’s locking system and use a lubricant to oil the shaft, reel handle, rotating seat, and handle. Don’t forget to lubricate the joint that allows the handle to fold against the reel body.

Once the reel is disassembled, apply the anti-friction lubricant on the openings and the reel’s mechanism. 

5. Clean the Exterior

Once you’ve cleaned and oiled all the moving parts, it’s time to clean other areas. Remove all the excess lubricant from the reel’s moving parts and tighten all the screws with a screwdriver.  

What to Use to Oil, Lubricate, and Clean Fishing Reels Instead of WD40?

There are many fishing reel grease and oil products that are made specifically for reals and are safe for regular maintenance. There are even reel cleaners and corrosion removers that are completely safe and won’t cause any damage to the reel.

If you can’t find specialized reel products, high-quality gun oil or high-grade light machine oil are suitable alternatives. 


Proper and regular maintenance is essential for the longevity of your fishing reels. Although some anglers swear by it, WD40 isn’t suitable for regular maintenance of fishing reels.

The only time you should use WD40 is during annual maintenance to remove corrosion or something that got stuck. 

If you’re using WD40, remove any residue from reel parts after you finish cleaning. This will prevent WD40 from getting transferred to the line or coming into contact with the rod and guides.