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A clean, oiled-up faucet.

Photo: Lindsey Ellefson

For years, the internet has insisted that you can use baby oil to polish chrome and faucet fixtures. As someone with disgusting faucets that never seem to be improved by scrubbing, I finally gave in to the pressure. The claims say it will cut through gunk and film, leaving a shiny faucet (or toilet handle or whatever else) behind, plus help slow down how long for dirt and grime to build up again. Here’s what happened when I tried it.

Baby oil on the faucet: The experiment

After some consultation of the internet, I concluded there would be no real problem if I bought the aloe-scented version of baby oil, but if you have concerns about legitimacy, feel free to go for the one with the pink cap. Green-capped baby oil in hand, I consulted the forums again and found that it’s recommended you apply the oil with a cotton rag. I didn’t do that for two reasons: One, I had a paper towel handier and two, the forums also warned of a film that could develop if the oil wasn’t rubbed on correctly, and I hoped the rougher paper towel would scrub oil residue off the faucet more efficiently.

Here is what my faucet looked like before oiling with the paper towel:

A faucet in a sink.

Photo: Lindsey Ellefson

I noticed right away that the water stains on the faucet lifted off after being oiled. That didn’t exactly surprise me—water removes those, too. But water doesn’t make them stay gone. What was different about this, compared to cleaning the faucet with water or another household cleaner, was how shiny it all looked afterward.

After oiling the faucet, I left it alone and carried on with life as normal for several days. I used the faucet as usual, which for me currently involves extra hand-washing and tooth-brushing, as my bathroom sink is currently on the fritz. It stayed shiny and free of water spots for a few days after the oiling, working well as a temporary barrier to dirt. In other words, it’s a good first line of defense on chrome fixtures.

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