Friday, June 2, 2023


RVers, don’t leave home without it: 22 genius hacks for using Vaseline

You probably have some in your RV’s medicine cabinet right now. Its generic name is “petroleum jelly,” better known by the brand name Vaseline. While you wouldn’t want to spread this jelly-like substance on your morning toast, there are many helpful ways Vaseline can be useful to RVers.


Vaseline® was invented by a chemist named Robert Chesebrough. Already known for clarifying kerosene from the oil found in sperm whales, Chesebrough was intrigued by a new fuel source. He traveled to the oil fields in Pennsylvania in 1859 to investigate. In talking to the local oil workers, Chesebrough learned about a substance called rod wax. Workers explained that the rod wax had to be removed from the oil pumps periodically, but they used the wax to heal superficial burns and cuts.

Chesebrough took samples of the rod wax back to New York. There he extracted usable petroleum jelly from the wax and began production of a medicinal product he named “Vaseline.” The Chesebrough Manufacturing Company continued to produce the product for more than 80 years. By then, Vaseline had become a common household product.

Many uses

Robert Chesebrough couldn’t have guessed that the product he discovered has so many helpful uses apart from being a topical medicinal ointment. Here are a few unusual ways I’ve thought of to use Vaseline while RVing.

Inside the RV

Personal care

  • Soften skin. Rub Vaseline on your feet (especially the heels) at nighttime. Then wear thick socks. In the morning your feet should feel softer. Hint: This tip also works for softening hands. Apply and wear gloves overnight.
  • Treat chapped lips. If you winter camp, you’ll appreciate how Vaseline can soothe dry, cracked lips. Apply it before you go outside to dump those tanks!
  • Prevent eye burn. If you RV with little ones, put a bit of Vaseline across your child’s eyebrows before shampooing. It will help keep suds out of their eyes.
  • An invisible bandage. Vaseline acts like a bandage as it prevents dirt, water, and debris from entering a cut or blister. Use it to protect a scab as well. Although it doesn’t have any antiseptic features, it will protect damaged skin.
  • Chafing barrier. If you participate in sports or other exercises, you can use Vaseline to protect against skin chafing. Before you exercise, apply Vaseline to potentially affected areas, like your thighs, armpits, etc.
  • Remove gum. You can use Vaseline to remove gum from hair. Apply a spoonful of Vaseline to the gum and work it in. Then remove bits of gum as they loosen from the hair. Follow up by shampooing. Hint: This also works for tree sap removal.
  • Paint remover. If you get paint on your skin, Vaseline can help remove it. Simply rub the petroleum jelly on the affected area and the paint should come right off.

Clean and repair

  • Remove stains. Rub a bit of Vaseline on a clothing stain to remove it. Then launder the garment as usual. (Always test on an unobtrusive place first.)
  • Renew shine. Are your shoes scuffed? A little Vaseline applied to the shoe, followed by buffing, should renew the shine in no time.
  • Unstick zipper. If your sleeping bag zipper sticks, Vaseline can help. Rub some on both the top and underside of the zipper. Then work the zipper up and down to lubricate the zipper “teeth.” No more sticking!
  • Furniture scratches. Buff a bit of Vaseline into wooden scratches on your RV furniture. They’ll look much better. It is also recommended to treat watermarks, though I haven’t tried it. You apply a generous amount of Vaseline and leave it on the watermark overnight. Then wipe it off and polish the wooden surface.
  • Lube squeaks. If your RV’s cupboard doors or entry door squeaks, apply Vaseline to the hinges for quick relief. Open and shut the door several times to help the Vaseline penetrate the hinge. By the way, Vaseline can be used in place of WD-40 for many other applications.
  • Remedy sticky doors. Changes in temperature and humidity can sometimes cause your RV doors to stick. Find the area on the door’s edge that rubs/sticks on the doorframe. Then apply some Vaseline to that area. It should fix the stick.
  • Keep curtains sliding. Our shower curtain sometimes seemed to “stick”—not slide smoothly on the curtain rod. I applied a bit of Vaseline to the rod and now the curtain glides open or closed effortlessly.
  • Shine faucets. Apply Vaseline to the water spots and/or soap scum on your RV’s faucets. Then, buff with a soft cloth for a clean and restored shine.
  • Prevent slugs. If you have potted plants inside or outside your RV, you can prevent slugs and ants by mixing a bit of table salt with Vaseline. Apply the mixture all around the rim of the pot and problem prevented.
  • Repair scratches. You can fix minor scratches on your cell phone screen by rubbing a bit of Vaseline over the scratch. Remove the excess with a damp (not wet) cloth. Hint: You can also use this method for fixing scratches on DVDs or CDs. Apply the jelly to a clean, soft cloth. Rub it in a circular motion over the disc. Wipe off excess (again, in a circular motion).
  • Sticky lids. Make sure you can easily open that jar of jam. Clean the lid and jar threads and then apply a thin coat of Vaseline to the threads. You should have no problem opening the jar.

Outside the RV

  • Window seals. Rub Vaseline on your RV’s window seals to keep them supple and conditioned.
  • Frozen locks. Apply Vaseline to both the key and the lock opening. Then insert the greased key into the lock several times to help spread the Vaseline on the inside of the lock. Doing so will keep the moisture away and the lock will not become frozen.
  • Rust prevention. Use a dry rag to apply a thin coat of Vaseline to dry, metal tools and blades to keep them from rusting inside your RV basement or toolbox.
  • Campfire starter. Coat a few cotton balls with Vaseline. Carefully light the cotton balls for a quick fire starter in your fire pit, grill, etc.

As I said, Robert Chesebrough could never have guessed! Do you use Vaseline as you RV? Tell me about it in the comments below, please.

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Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Linda C
2 months ago

I used Vaseline on my toilet ball seal when it had dried out over the winter. It now holds water in the bowl without leaking out. I thought I was going to have to replace the seal.

Neal Davis
2 months ago

Thank you, Gail!

2 months ago

Do NOT use Vaseline on a lock of any kind!! I was a Locksmith for MANY years, use graphite!!!

Ellis & Frankie Ittel
2 months ago

To keep ants from getting into your camper, grease your hose or electric cord with Vaseline and ants won’t cross it.

2 months ago

Vaseline is petroleum based and will cause rubber to become sticky and swell. Use plumbers silicone grease only

Sandi Pearson
2 months ago

Since Vaseline or petroleum jelly will rot certain types of rubber…use with caution. However it’s great for removing mascara!

2 months ago

Take 2 tablespoons of Vaseline and add a teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture until blended then apply it to an insect bite. It stops the itch and the roughness of the salt helps scratch as well.

2 months ago
Reply to  Pam

Thanks for the tip, Pam! I’ll try it.

Steve H
2 months ago

When I had a travel trailer, I kept a jar of Vaseline with my tools to use on the hitch ball. A big gob on the ball just before dropping the tongue lubricated thr contact surface so that it didn’t squeal or gouge. When I parked the trailer for any length of time, I wiped the Vaseline off with a paper towel to keep it from collecting dirt. But the remaining thin coat kept the ball and hitch from rusting.

David N
2 months ago

Use it on the gray and black tank open and close valve plungers

2 months ago
Reply to  David N

Great recommendation. Thanks. Going to try that one.

Jim Johnson
2 months ago

Time for a revisit? I haven’t used petroleum jelly for a couple decades. As noted WD-40 took over many of the same purposes. As a teen, I would routinely put a tiny dab in the gears of my fishing reels as both a lubricant and water resistant rust preventative. Now days reels use both more stainless steel and plastic And dare I say it? K-Y gel replaced petroleum jelly for other uses. More recently, painter’s tape replaced a use to prevent paint from adhering to glass on old wood framed windows.

I used enough of this stuff around the house that I once made the mistake of purchasing a large tub of the stuff. Turns out petroleum jelly will turn rancid over time. So only keep a small container on hand.

Alice A
2 months ago

Apply Vaseline around light bulb threads. When they need replacement, they will easily screw out, no fear of it not loosening and breaking the bulb!

Also, apply a small amount of Vaseline to metal snaps, like on outside window covers on your coach. Prevents possible rust and makes screen removal easier.

David Jiggens UK
2 months ago

Hi Gail, I also find that smearing a very thin layer of Vaseline on the rubber seals around my car doors stops them from freezing shut in low temperatures.

2 months ago

Good to know. Thanks, David!

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