Which lubricant should you use, and when?

It’s time to ditch your studio can of WD40 in favor of these two more specialized lubricants.  While you may think that WD40 does a good job of minimizing noise, think of it like a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.  It does what you want with a passing grade of C, or C+, but with the following two lubricants you will take care of the noises in your studio much more effectively. 

3-in-1 Multipurpose Oil

This oil comes in a small bottle and is available at most hardware stores.  It is great for situations where you aren’t necessarily able to take pieces apart (these situations might be better suited to a grease) and need the oil to penetrate a small space.  Because it is an oil, putting it on exposed surfaces may not be ideal, because it will attract dirt and dust and possibly gum up and cause more friction.  In general, think about this oil for metal-on-metal articulating surfaces.

I use 3-in-1 oil on the following parts of my Pilates equipment:

  • Chair hinges
  • Push-through bar T-pins

I only apply the oil when noise appears, which tends to be once or twice a year.  Always have a rag handy to wipe up any drips.  No need to apply as a preventative measure.

Dry Lubricant

Unlike WD40, a dry lubricant such as PTFE (Teflon) does not attract dirt or dust so it is great for exposed surfaces.  It has the versatility of a spray to penetrate hard-to-reach areas, and protects against moisture that can cause rust.  In general, think about this lubricant for plastic surfaces.

Now, you may be wondering, “What about Silicone spray?”  Silicone spray will likely work for most of these applications, EXCEPT when under load, like the pulley axles, because it will wear off.  So, if you only have one dry lubricant, get the PTFE spray.

I use dry PTFE spray on the following parts of my Pilates equipment:

  • Springs (the plastic balls attached to the spring hooks between the coned coils)
  • Noisy chair knobs (apply on the threads)
  • Cadillac Rails (where slider bars slide, apply with rag)
  • Pulley Axles

As with the 3-in-1 oil, have a rag handy to catch the overspray and wipe up any drips.  Again, I only apply the spray when a noise presents itself.  When on an easily accessible surface such as Cadillac rails, I’ll spray the rag first, and then wipe the surface with the dampened rag.

Next time you head over to a hardware store, grab these items and upgrade your Pilates studio toolkit.

Happy Reforming!

Kaleen Canevari

About Kaleen Canevari

Kaleen Canevari is a mechanical engineer and PMA certified Pilates instructor. She began her Pilates journey while working as an engineer at Balanced Body in 2014, and since then has started her own company called The Fit Reformer, which specializes in Pilates equipment care. She currently teaches Pilates part-time at a local studio in Sacramento, and spends the rest of her time traveling the country working on Pilates equipment and Pilates-related projects.