Petroleum jelly — commonly known by its popular brand name, Vaseline — came into the world as a health hack when oil workers in the mid 1800s began using the gooey substance that formed on their rigs to treat cuts and burns. In the decades since, petroleum jelly has been lauded for its ability to preserve, polish, loosen and lubricate. These 15 brilliant Vaseline hacks showcase the power of petroleum jelly to transform your home and health.
Budget Polish for Shoes and Purses
When you can't be bothered to buy shoe polish, Vaseline will do in a pinch for leather and faux-leather shoes, heels, jackets and purses. Vaseline is a purified mixture of long-chained saturated hydrocarbons, which is a chemist's way of saying it's great at softening and conditioning like a balm or a lotion. Thoroughly cover surfaces with Vaseline before slowly buffing until only a smooth, shiny polish remains.
Remove Spilled Candle Wax
Have you had a romantic evening replete with sensuous candle light, only to discover that wax has spilled all over? Instead of chipping off the hardened wax with your fingernail, remove it effortlessly by dabbing it with petroleum jelly. Simply apply petroleum jelly to the edges of the dried wax, and wait several minutes before wiping it clean.
Keep Halloween Pumpkins Looking Fresh
Few things are as anti-climatic as a jack-o'-lantern that has begun to transform into a sad heap of rotting pumpkin several days before Halloween. Because Vaseline doesn't oxidize when exposed to air, organic surfaces that are slathered with it will decompose at a much slower rate. Simply rub Vaseline into the interior of the jack-o'-lantern and along the cut and carved edges to preserve the pumpkin for an extra few days.
Unlock a Stubborn Door
Doorknob lock sets become stubborn with age. Typically, the lock sets are either replaced or treated with a fine-powder graphite, which requires a trip to the hardware store. But lubricating the inner workings of the lock set by coating a key in petroleum jelly before unlocking a door is a locksmith's go-to secret.
Restore Minor Scratches and Stains on Wood
Stains from mugs and cups on your coffee table are annoying, especially when a stack of coasters rests unused inches away. Similarly, scratches and scrapes on wood flooring will raise the blood pressure of most homeowners. Instead of risking a conniption by discoloring your wood with potent or harsh cleaning solutions, give Vaseline a try. Apply a generous coating of Vaseline to the stained or damaged area, and allow it to sit overnight before working the jelly into the wood with a cloth and buffing clean.
Help Shower Curtains Glide
Why on earth would anyone want slippery shower curtains? Ask that question to the thousands of people who have torn curtains from their rings because the shower curtain rod had grown rough due to hard water and calcium deposits. You could buy a new rod, or save the money and the environment by smearing a thin layer of Vaseline to either the rod or the rings — dealer's choice.
Tidily Paint Fingernails and Toenails
The next time your grandchildren want to give you a makeover, be sure to keep those mani-pedi lines neat and tidy by applying a layer of petroleum jelly around the perimeter of your toe and fingernails. Petroleum jelly is hydrophobic, which means water and other liquids don't dissolve it. So your aspiring makeover artist can practice applying polish all day long, and it will always come out looking fresh!
Extend the Potency of Expensive Perfume
Whether it's expensive cologne or fancy perfume, nobody enjoys seeing the final 1/16 inch of fluid at the bottom of their top-shelf bottle of scent. Petroleum jelly will soak up those good smells, and prevent them from quickly dissipating. Apply a thin line of petroleum jelly along your wrist or neck before lightly dusting the area with your perfume.
Keep Insects Away From Pet Food
Your furry friends don't like ants or bugs crawling around on their food any more than you do, but those chow bowls have a tendency to attract legions of creepy crawlies. In lieu of spraying toxic pesticides anywhere near your pet's food, try spreading a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the base of the bowl and on the nearby flooring. Insects will get stuck in the jelly and stay off of your best friend's food.
Heal Minor Abrasions, Scabs and Wounds
Oddly enough, using Vaseline as a curative balm isn't a hack at all. When petroleum jelly was first conceived, it was a topical ointment widely used for its healing properties. Even the FDA has recognized Vaseline as an approved over-the-counter skin protectant. To heal an abrasion, scab, small cut or rash, simply rub a moderate amount of Vaseline into the affected area, but do not cover with a bandage while it sets.
Prevent Lightbulbs From Sticking
There's always one stubborn light fixture in the home that regularly breaks bulbs because the metal screw contact is always getting stuck. Lightly cover the bulb end with Vaseline before screwing in a replacement bulb. Months from now, it'll be easily removed without any breaking.
Relieve Razor Burn
Even when you're really careful and use lots of shaving cream, razor burn still stings the most meticulous of shavers. Petroleum jelly can ease the discomfort of razor burn and other skin irritations because it creates a moist environment on the skin's surface that accelerates the normal recovery of the epidermal barrier. Whether it's razor rash, dryness, psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, simply cover the affected area with petroleum jelly and allow it to set uncovered.
Pest Proof Your Bird Feeders
The struggle is real for homeowners who have meticulously transformed their backyards into an outdoor bird-watching paradise. An oasis can quickly turn into a mirage once squirrels, rodents and other pests discover and devour birdseed intended to attract neighborhood robins and sparrows. Vaseline is a powerful and cruelty-free deterrent to keep pests from gaining any traction in your backyard. Simply cover your bird feeder's chain or its supporting pole with a layer of Vaseline and watch the squirrels slip and slide.
Prevent Chaffing and Blisters
Athletes, weekend warriors and couch potatoes alike suffer from blistering and chaffing due to skin and fabric rubbing against one another for long periods. Petroleum jelly minimizes friction and reduces moisture loss, which makes it an effective means to prevent chapped skin and blisters. Thoroughly rub a moderate amount of petroleum jelly onto an area that typically becomes irritated due to friction and allow to set uncovered.
Treat Athlete's Foot
If you've ever been unlucky enough to suffer the itchy dryness of athlete's foot, then you know how expensive both medical treatment and over-the-counter remedies can be. But this petroleum jelly hack will clear athlete's foot in less than a week, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. Rubbing the affected area with petroleum jelly not only asphyxiates the fungus, but also soothes the irritated skin.