How to Use Mineral Oil

Amber Keefer

Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless oil that has a number of useful properties. Not only can mineral oil be used as a lubricant and emollient, it has a long shelf life and is inexpensive.

Mineral oil is used as a common ingredient in cosmetics and other skin care products, while food-grade and pharmaceutical-grade mineral oils are used as ingredients in certain foods and laxatives. If you do not have a mineral oil product in your cupboard or pantry now, you might want to consider keeping some on hand. It is a versatile and effective household product that has a wide variety of uses.

  1. Take off oil-based eye makeup with mineral oil. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before using the mineral oil. Apply a few drops of oil to a clean cotton ball, and then gently wipe off makeup. Do not rub makeup off the eyelids. Wash your face afterward with plain water to remove any oil remaining on the skin, as mineral oil can clog the pores.

  2. Mix up your own furniture polish. Combine 2 cups of mineral oil and the juice from one lemon. Use a soft cloth to buff wood to a warm luster and shine. The oil moisturizes the wood.

  3. Use on wood countertops as a preservative. The oil will penetrate the wood grain. Use a clean paintbrush to apply the oil, coating the countertop evenly. Apply second and third coats as needed to soak the wood in oil. Allow the countertop to dry overnight and then wipe off excess oil with a clean cloth. Mineral oil has less odor and dries faster than varnish or polyurethane finishes.

  4. Season butcher-block cutting surfaces. The oil also prevents the wood from absorbing food odors. Warm the oil slightly before applying to wood. Do not heat oil on the stove but place in a container in a pan of hot water. Wipe on mineral oil in the direction of the wood grain. Allow the wood time to absorb the oil before wiping off any excess. You can also use mineral oil to darken soapstone countertops (see soapstone.com).

  5. Remove adhesive left behind from price tags. Pour some mineral oil on a clean cloth. Saturate the sticky residue. Let the oil sit for a few minutes and then rub off the residue. Wash the area with warm, soapy water to remove the oil.

  6. Condition dry leather shoes. Test first by rubbing some oil on an area that does not show. If the mineral oil doesn’t affect the color of the shoe, pour a small amount onto a clean cloth. Wipe shoes covering the leather evenly with oil. Let shoes sit for about a half hour to allow the oil time to soak into the leather. Buff to a shine using a clean, soft cloth. Use light pressure and small, circular motions. Mineral oil also works to help waterproof leather shoes and purses.

  7. Polish stainless-steel sinks, countertops and appliances. Pour a few drops of mineral oil onto a soft, clean cloth. Wipe the area until you get a deep, smudge-free shine.

  8. Keep skin soft. Baby oil is simply mineral oil with fragrance added. Wet a clean cotton ball with baby oil and apply. You can put a bottle of baby oil to practical use in other ways, too. Get a stuck zipper to slide by wetting a cotton swab with baby oil. Untangle the knots in necklaces by dabbing a drop of baby oil on the knotted chain before going to work with a straight pin. Use a spray bottle to squirt on squeaky door hinges to lubricate.