I recently made the Yale lock on my front door much easier to open by spraying some WD-40 in there.

However, I just saw this question on WD-40 not being a “true” lubricant, and wondered whether it was appropriate to use on Yale locks?

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    Is the fact that the lock is Yale pertinent to the question? Perhaps the question text could be changed make the question more general. Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 14:35
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    @chris: it’s Yale locks that I need to lubricate, so yes, it is. If all locks need the same lubrication then it could be made more general, but equally having “Yale” in there helps people find it if they’re searching for Yale lock lubrication advice. Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 16:46
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    WD-40, not a true lubricant. It has a lot of solvent, is a water displacer used to slow down corrosion. While it is momentarily lubricating, most of it evaporates, the oily film left behind is to seal out water. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 17:18
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    @Paul saying your lock is a Yale lock is not particularly useful or descriptive. Yale make many kinds of locks as do many other manufacturers of locks. Some Yale locks will have more in common with say a Lockwood lock than other Yale locks. It's superfluous at least and confusing I think. Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 6:45
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    It's superfluous at least and confusing I think unless you're to mention the exact model of lock. Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 7:00

5 Answers 5


OLD ANSWER (Improved below)

Graphite powder is the preferred lubricant for locks. You should be able to get it at any hardware store in a squeeze bottle that is half air, allowing you to blow it right into the keyway. You are going to have to wait a while before putting it on, as the residual WD-40 will gum it up.

EDIT: As per MrSquonk's comment below -- Try coating the key and work it in slowly. It's less messy.

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LATE EDIT: Comment below edited into the answer. Please read full comment thread.

Yale USA says:

Yale® KeyMark® cylinders are lubricated from the factory with a Teflon® lubrication. Cylinders should be lubricated periodically depending upon environmental conditions and usage. LAB Lube is the approved lubricant. Caution: It is not recommended to lubricate cylinders with oil or to mix lubricants. "

LAB Lube

  • Micronized polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Powder

  • A dry white powder lubricant that will not "cake-up" as graphite does.

  • A superior friction-fighting agent
  • Excellent, cheers Chris, good to know. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 14:31
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    Whilst I agree in principle, my experience is that attempting to 'blow' graphite powder into a Yale lock with such a bottle results in more graphite powder outside of the lock than in. I'm quite happy with graphite, oil or WD40 but I always coat the key with whichever of them I'm using and gradually work it into a Yale lock to free it up. Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 0:34
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    If you've put WD-40 in there, you will probably need a locksmith to pull it apart and clean it.
    – staticsan
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 6:35
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    Worth looking at @GrahamWilliamson's answer below which contains contrary advice issued by Yale themselves.
    – tomfanning
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 13:19
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    @tomfanning which is contradicted by other Yale divisions that offer Yale branded graphite lock lubricant. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 17:00

For locks that are in such bad shape that one is unable to get graphite powder in it, you can first use a little bit of LPS 1 (Greaseless lubricant). Do not use any kind of silicone lube, that's FAR worse than WD-40 (I had a guy come in with a couple locks he'd done that to, it ended up costing him a good bit of labor for me to undo that mess)!


This page on YaleDoor.co.uk


Says the opposite ... "Any, “all purpose” oil or lubrication will do the job, but be sure never to lubricate your door locks with powder graphite, as it will do more harm than good. Simply insert the straw (which is normally supplied with lubricants such as WD40) into the lock cylinder and spray away! "

Now I'm confused

  • Huh. That is odd. I know I used WD-40 on my front door's Yale lock, and it subsequently got a bit sticky, then broke 18 months later. No idea if the two facts were related though. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 12:09
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    Which is hilarious because Yale South Africa recommends their Yale brand Just-A-Puff Graphite for lubricating locks. To be applied every 2-3 weeks under extreme conditions. yalelock.co.za/en/Internal-Pages/Archive/yale-Africa/ProductsDB/… Oil based lubricants attract dirt and oxidize into a gummy substance after while, leading to the tumblers sticking. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:45
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    My local locksmith recommended WD40 (but for a mortice lock). I was surprised as I know it is controversial as a lubricant. The WD40 website says "WD-40® can ... lubricate locks, hinges, & all moving parts" but they're not exactly reticent about the wonders of their product. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 17:22
  • We've got one better on the floor. LAB Locksmith Lube. Micronized PTFE powder, doesn't cake like graphite, doesn't oxidize into sticky goo and attract dirt like petroleum products. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 17:14
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    Was that link from the manufacturer, Yale? The yaledoor.co.uk link is now 404 Not Found, and the whole site is "Sash Windows of London"
    – Xen2050
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 23:54

Think of WD-40 as a very good cleaning agent, not a lubricant. If you use WD-40 to lubricate anything, it will probably stick/squeak again in the near future. Myself I use a silicone spray in lock cylinders. Graphite or PTFE might be better or worse, I don't know.


I just spoke to someone at Yaledoor in their technical department and they advised, 3-in-1 or another 'light engineering oil'.

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