Can You Use Cooking Oil As Lube, Or For Anal Sex?

While it can be safe in certain circumstances, many cooking oils are best used for preparing food — not having sex — for a variety of reasons.
Photograph Of Cooking Oil Bottle On White Tabletop With Bedding In Distant Background
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Updated:July 2023

While it is generally safe to use cooking oil as lube, it might not be the best choice in all situations.

Here’s why:

  • Cooking oil, like any oil-based lube, will degrade latex and polyisoprene condoms along with latex diaphragms and dental dams, putting you and your partner at risk for STI transmission or unintended pregnancy.
  • Cooking oil can clog your skin’s pores, causing irritation or infection if bacteria become trapped beneath the surface of the skin, and it can also increase your risk of developing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis if you’re prone to either.
  • Depending on its ingredients, cooking oil may be more or less refined — the more chemical refinement an oil has gone through, the greater the risk of irritation.
  • It’s difficult to know exactly which ingredients are in cooking oil, which can potentially result in a sudden (and highly unpleasant) allergic reaction.
  • It’s also just a mess. Cooking oil can stain your bedsheets and clothing — and it’s difficult to clean off your skin.

All that said, cooking oil can be considered safe to use for vaginal or anal sex, but there are many caveats to consider first.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using cooking oil as a personal lubricant, including: 

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

Can You Use Cooking Oil As Lube?

It’s tempting to root around in your pantry when you’re in a pinch for some lube, but you may want to leave the cooking oil in the kitchen, depending on your circumstances and the precautions you need to take.

Cooking oils may include:

“Cooking oil” can be used to refer to many different types of oil — of varying degrees of purity or quality — and that’s just one of the reasons why you should approach using it as a lube cautiously.

Here’s what you need to know about using cooking oil as a lube:

  • It will degrade latex and polyisoprene condoms, along with diaphragms and dental dams made from latex
  • It can clog pores, causing skin irritation or infection, and if you’re prone to bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, will increase your risk of developing another one
  • “Cooking oil” can refer to any number of oils used to prepare food and as such, its ingredients and level of chemical refinement (if any) can vary between products — greatly
  • Like any oil-based lubricant, cooking oil will damage latex and jelly rubber toys (although we don’t recommend using either for other reasons.)
  • Cooking oil is safe to use with glass, metal, or silicone sex toys
  • It will stain sheets and clothing
  • It can be difficult to remove from the skin after use

One of the biggest concerns when using cooking oil as lube is that it will degrade latex and polyisoprene condoms, as well as latex diaphragms and dental dams, leaving you (or your partner) at risk for unintended pregnancy or STI transmission.

While you could technically use cooking oil with nitrile, lambskin, or polyurethane condoms, it still isn’t always the best choice when you’re looking for personal lubricant.

It’s important to remember that lambskin condoms do not offer STI protection.

Additionally, if you’re at all prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, cooking oil — and any oil-based lube, for that matter — can increase your risk of developing another infection.

Although you can use cooking oil without condoms or for masturbation, it’s important to remember that it can still clog your pores, leaving bacteria trapped beneath the surface of your skin and causing irritation, breakouts, or subsequent infection.

We’ll talk about what cooking oil is made from in just a little bit, but there are lots of oils that are considered “cooking oil” — including vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and more.

Many “cooking oils” are blends of multiple oil types, which means it can be hard to know for certain exactly what is in your cooking oil — and that’s a real concern if you’ve got allergies or sensitivities.

Similarly, most liquid oils go through some type of refinement — a chemical process to make an oil “clean” and pure — and it can be impossible to know just how refined your cooking oil really is.

The more chemical processing and refinement an oil goes through, the more likely it is to cause irritation.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, aren’t using anything made from latex or polyisoprene to prevent STIs or pregnancy, and are confident that your cooking oil’s ingredients are safe as a lube, it can be an option for you.

It’s important to note that cooking oil will stain fabrics and it’s also difficult to remove thoroughly from the skin after use.

If all of the above sounds like too much hassle, it’s probably best to find a safer lube alternative, or a store-bought lube, instead.

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Can You Use Cooking Oil As Vaginal Lube?

You can — if your circumstances mean that it can be done so safely.

If you’re not using latex or polyisoprene barriers to prevent STIs or pregnancy, don’t experience recurring yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, and don’t have allergies or sensitive skin, cooking oil could very well be perfectly safe as vaginal lube.

As we mentioned earlier, using any oil-based lube can increase your chances of getting an infection like bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection if you’re prone to either.

If you are using a latex or polyisoprene barrier (such as condoms, a diaphragm, or a dental dam) as a form of birth control or STI prevention, cooking oil will degrade the material, making it less effective.

If you’re using cooking oil externally on your vulva during masturbation, it can be safe, however, the oil can clog pores, leading to irritation, breakouts, and infection.

Using cooking oil to masturbate with sex toys can be problematic if they’re made from latex or jelly rubber, as the oil will degrade their material.

Finally, it’s important to know what ingredients are used in your cooking oil. Many such oils are blends of various plant-based oils, some of which could be potential allergens.

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Can You Use Cooking Oil As Anal Lube?

Using cooking oil as a lubricant for anal sex has similar drawbacks as its use during vaginal sex.

Cooking oil will damage latex and polyisoprene condoms, putting you and your partner at risk for STI transmission, including HIV.

Additionally, cooking oil lube can clog your pores, potentially causing breakouts, and it can irritate delicate rectal tissue and skin around your anus, resulting in infection.

While oil-based lubricants can be great for anal sex or pegging because they’re longer-lasting, thicker, and reduce friction well, there are plenty of oil-based lubes to choose from that are safer for anal sex — and that aren’t cooking oil.

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What Is Cooking Oil Made From And Is It Safe?

The answer to this question is more than a little complicated.

The term “cooking oil” is general and can apply to just about any and every type of oil used in the preparation of food.

Vegetable oil, for instance, is a cooking oil commonly made from soybean oil or a soybean blend because it is the cheapest to produce.

Canola oil is another form of cooking oil made with oils extracted from the canola plant.

Cooking oil can be made from oils extracted from many types of plants, including sunflowers, safflowers, coconuts, olives, palms, sesame, canola, peanuts, almonds, cottonseed, or even corn.

Cooking oil may be pure — like some types of olive oil, almond oil, or coconut oil — but it can also be a blend of oils and they’re not all regulated by the FDA for purity.

In fact, many cooking oils combine two or more types of plant oils, whether it is to provide better flavor or improved texture, or simply because one of the ingredients is just cheaper to manufacture.

For this reason, if you’ve got allergies or sensitivities, cooking oil as a lube — or used on your skin in general — is a risky proposition unless you’re 100% certain of its base ingredients.

Beyond the oils used in cooking oil, however, refinement is almost guaranteed to have occurred.

The more refinement an oil has gone through — especially if it involves multiple chemical processes — the higher the risk of skin irritation when it’s used as a lube.

Hexane is often used to extract oil from its plant of origin, but the oil then goes through various chemical and/or steam processes to refine it — to remove fine particles, lipids, fatty acids, and anything else that needs to be drawn out from it.

The refinement process depends on the oil type, but it may involve filtration through natural clay, steam distillation, treatment with phosphoric acid or caustic soda, and deodorization.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is.

And it’s also why pure and unrefined oils are usually the safest oil lube alternatives.

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What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Cooking Oil?

If you’re rethinking using cooking oil as a lube, it’s probably for the best.

Luckily, you have plenty of other options to choose from when looking for a personal lubricant.

Better personal lubricant options include:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

There is a personal lubricant designed for every situation, so if you’re not sure which to choose, you can read through our in-depth lube guide or take our lube quiz to find your perfect match.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Editor's Note: When you purchase a product via an affiliate link (*) on our site, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. On behalf of our entire team, thank you in advance for your support!

We’ll take a quick look at the four main lubricant categories below.

  • Water-Based Personal Lubricants

Water-based lubricants are the most versatile type because they’re water-soluble, easy to clean, similar to your body’s natural lubrication, and they can be paired with any kind of condom, dental dam, diaphragm, or sex toy.

There’s almost nothing they can’t do.

Unlike their silicone and oil-based competition, however, they usually require reapplication and can’t be used in the bath or shower.

Still, they remain incredibly popular for many reasons and if this sounds like what you’re looking for, we reviewed our favorite water-based lubes right here.

  • Silicone-Based Personal Lubricants

Silicone-based lubricants are long-lasting and safe for all condom types and most sex toys — aside from those made of silicone.

Silicone-based lubes have a smooth, silk-like texture that doesn’t necessarily feel “natural” the way water-based lubricants do, but their texture is in a league all its own.

Thanks to their incredible slip and thick consistency, they’re an especially great choice as a lube for anal sex.

Silicone lubricants are waterproof so they can be used during sex in the bath or shower, but they are more difficult to wash off afterward and can stain your bedding and clothes.

We researched the best silicone-based personal lubes to find the safest and most effective products available.

  • Oil-Based Personal Lubricants

Oil-based lubes are usually made from natural (and sometimes organic) oils that are body-safe.

However, there are many oil-based personal lubricants made from nuts, so be sure to check the label if you have an allergy or sensitivity to such ingredients.

As we mentioned earlier, oil-based lube cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms, nor with diaphragms or dental dams made from latex, because they will degrade the material.

Oil-based lubes can be used with nitrile, polyurethane, or lambskin condoms, although the latter offers no STI protection.

We did the research and reviewed the best oil-based personal lubricants to help you along with your search for the perfect one.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Natural or organic lubes can be water-based or oil-based.

Many organic lubes are made with nut-based ingredients so if you have an allergy, make sure to read through the ingredient list first.

We researched and found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants so you can find the right product for yourself.

Are There Any Safe At-Home Lube Alternatives?

If you’re in a pinch and looking for something handy, several lube alternatives are considered safe to use as a lube, including:

Remember to take any precautions you normally would with an oil-based lube if you choose any of the oils listed above.

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test elsewhere on your skin to watch for any potential reaction before applying any of these lube alternatives (or lube in general) to your genital area.

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Bottom Line:

Since most people always have some type of cooking oil around the house, it can be appealing to use it as lube in a pinch — and it can be safe for some people in certain circumstances — but many cooking oils are best used for preparing food, not having sex.

If you decide to use cooking oil as a lube, make sure to read the label, check the ingredients for potential allergens, and make sure that what you’re about to use isn’t highly refined.

Don’t forget there are many safe, store-bought personal lube options to choose from!

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