3-In-One Oil

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3-In-One lubricating oil

3-in-One Oil is a general-purpose lubricating oil sold in small cans and squeezable containers for household and do-it-yourself use. It was originally formulated in 1894. Its name, given by the inventor George W. Cole of New Jersey, derives from the product's triple ability to "clean, lubricate and protect," originally for use on bicycles. The formula consists of pale spindle oil with a small amount of corrosion inhibitor and citronella oil (which gives the product its distinctive sharp odor). It remains a popular lubricant for bicycle chains.

The product changed ownership many times throughout the 20th century and was bought by its current owners, the WD-40 Company, in 1995. The current marketing slogan is "The Tool Kit In A Can" with the logo of the text "3 in" inside a large numeral "1".

A few other products are now produced under the 3-in-1 brand, including a white lithium grease, silicone spray, and oil with added PTFE.

In 2000, the can was redesigned to look like the early 20th century oil can design (hemisphere base with tapered straight spout).[1]

Unfortunately, the product has always had a distinctive odor that many find unpleasant. This has nothing to do with the performance, as no other lubricant smells this way. It is quite hard to get rid of.

An advertisement found in "The Church Standard" magazine (April 13, 1901 pg. 867) offers 3 in 1 Oil as a perfect polish for pianos. It claimed that the oil was "long lasting" and did not come off on the clothes.[2]


  1. ^ HDPE oil bottle squeezes another prize, Packaging Digest, 11 November 2000 (from dfenginc.com, retrieved 19 July 2010)
  2. ^ 3 in One Polishes Pianos Perfectly,"The Church Standard", 13 April 1901 (from books.google.com, retrieved 15 April 2014)

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