Can You Use Vaseline As Lube For Anal Or Vaginal Sex? Is It Safe?

Vaseline — and petroleum jelly products — should generally NOT be used as personal lubricants, whether for anal or vaginal sex, for many reasons.
Closeup Photograph Of Vaseline Tub On Nightstand With View Of Bed In Background

While you can technically use many substances as a personal lubricant, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should — and Vaseline is one that should not be used as a lube, whether for anal or vaginal sex.

It’s understandable why Vaseline or petroleum jelly is often seen as a viable alternative to store-bought lube and sex-specific products.

Vaseline is affordable, just like most petroleum jelly products, and it has a thick consistency. Plus, it’s typically a staple product that most people have on hand at home.

Given its slippery texture, it’s easy to wonder, “Is Vaseline lube?” and assume that it’s safe to use in that manner.

However convenient it might be when you’re in the heat of the moment, Vaseline — and petroleum jelly products in general — shouldn’t be used as a personal lubricant, for many reasons.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using Vaseline — or petroleum jelly — as a personal lubricant, including:

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Lube hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores 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.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) As Lube

A Caucasian Hand With A Dollop Of Vaseline On Fingertip Of Raised Index Finger

Beyond the base ingredients (which we’ll go over in a second), there are several reasons why you should avoid using Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products as personal lubricants. These reasons include:

Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC, explained that petroleum jelly often leads to infections because it stays on the skin for a longer period of time compared to personal lubricants. She told me:

“Because petroleum [jelly products] last longer than other lubricants, it creates an environment where bacteria, yeast, and other infections can flourish. In one study, bacterial vaginosis was found twice as often in women using [petroleum jelly as a] lubricant.”

  • Mineral Oil: As we’ll talk about later, Vaseline contains mineral oil. When used in lubricants (or even things that shouldn’t be used as lube, like baby oil), mineral oil breaks down latex condoms and dental dams. In fact, mineral oil lube will deteriorate a latex condom’s strength by 90% in just 60 seconds, making them basically ineffective and leaving you vulnerable to a variety of STIs and STDs, while also increasing your risk of pregnancy depending on who you’re having sex with.
  • Danger Of Ingestion: Petroleum jelly can also cause coughing or aspiration since it’s such a thick substance and isn’t meant to be consumed. This could be particularly problematic if you use Vaseline as a lubricant during oral sex and consume any of the jelly.
  • Removal/Staining: Vaseline can also stain fabrics and it can be hard to clean — even harder than silicone or oil-based lubes since it’s not made to be used as a lubricant, to begin with.

So, is Vaseline safe for sex?

Considering that there are so many alternatives that are much safer for the most intimate parts of your body, it makes sense to avoid using Vaseline for sex.

[Back To Top]

Can You Use Vaseline Or Petroleum Jelly As Anal Lube?

There are so many myths and misconceptions about anal sex, including what’s safe to use as lube. Petroleum jelly is often used specifically for anal sex or while pegging due to its thick consistency, but using Vaseline as anal lube can actually put you and your partner at risk.

Studies show that individuals who use Vaseline as an anal lube alternative may be at greater risk of transmitting HIV to their partners.

There are several possible reasons for this, but the most likely reason is that petroleum jelly breaks down latex condoms. Additionally, the substance can irritate rectal tissue, leaving it more open to infection.

This occurs because, as Dr. Rachel Gelman, PT, DPT explained, Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products “are also oil-based, which can degrade latex and other materials.”

Those who aren’t aware of this fact may use latex condoms and Vaseline together, thinking they’re protected without realizing they’re actually putting themselves at risk.

This also means they may be less likely to take additional precautionary measures, like taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a pill that helps to prevent HIV.

Even if you use toys for pegging or anal sex, using petroleum jelly as a lubricant can still increase your likelihood of getting an infection, as we’ve discussed, so you shouldn’t use Vaseline as anal lube either.

Your best lube option for backdoor play is a body-safe anal lube designed for the activity.

[Back To Top]

What Is Vaseline Made Of, Anyway?

Closeup View Of Open Jar With Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) Inside

Knowing what Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products are made from can help you gain a better understanding of what Vaseline is — and isn’t — intended for, and why it shouldn’t be used as a lube.

The primary ingredient in Vaseline is white petroleum jelly.

Petroleum jelly is made up of different oils and waxes and one of the key ingredients in petroleum jelly is mineral oil.

Mineral oil, which is made from purified and refined petroleum (yes, that’s the same crude oil that comes from the ground!), is often used in cosmetic products and baby oil because it can help to hydrate skin.

So, doesn’t that mean using a lubricant with mineral oil would be beneficial? Wouldn’t it be okay to use baby oil as lube? Well, not exactly.

While Vaseline is purified to remove any potentially harmful ingredients and is generally considered safe, this may not be the case for all petroleum jelly products.

Untreated mineral oils are considered carcinogenic, and verifying the purity of different petroleum jelly products can be a difficult task.

Additionally, while mineral oil is useful in some cosmetic items, it is often given orally as a laxative.

While it’s unlikely that you would consume enough mineral oil to achieve this effect when using Vaseline as lube, you probably don’t want to risk it.

Some petroleum jelly products also include glycerin, additionally known as glycerol.

Again, while this ingredient is useful when used topically on less sensitive skin, glycerin has been shown to cause damage to vaginal and anal tissue, making it an ingredient you should avoid in lubricants.

Since Vaseline is often used for both vaginal and anal sex, this is particularly important to be aware of — and another reason why you should seek a more viable alternative when selecting a lubricant.

[Back To Top]

Is Vaseline Water-Based?

No, vaseline is not water-based. As we talked about earlier, Vaseline is made of petroleum jelly. It is an oil-based ointment, does not contain water, and is not water-soluble.

If you’re looking for a body-safe lube that’s water-based, we found and reviewed the best products here.

[Back To Top]

What Are Some Alternatives To Vaseline Or Petroleum Jelly?

A Variety Of Different Types Of Personal Lubricants, Including Organic, Water-Based, Oil, And Silicone

Depending on your personal preferences, there are many great lubricant alternatives to Vaseline and petroleum jelly products!

In general, personal lubricants that you can buy online or in-store will fall into one of the following categories:

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

Lube Type:
Condom Types All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only All
Sex Toy Types All All but latex All but silicone
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?
(👉 ...scroll for more)

Water-based Lubricants

These are the ideal choice for anyone who wants to use toys and needs something that will work with latex condoms and dental dams.

Lightweight and slick, water-based lubes are often a popular option for people who prefer something that feels more like their body’s natural lubrication.

Water-based lubes aren’t waterproof, though, so don’t try to use them in the shower or hot tub. If you’re into water-play, silicone lubricants are likely your best option here.

You can read more about the differences between silicone and water-based personal lubricants to help you decide which type will best suit your needs.

Silicone Lubricants

These could be a great fit for you if you want a long-lasting, waterproof lube that you can use with condoms.

Additionally, silicone lubes are often a bit thicker than water-based lubes, which can be ideal for anal sex.

It’s important to note that silicone lubes can’t be used with silicone and porous toys, though, as they cause toys to break down.

While some silicone lubes can give a numbing effect, there are some risks to using desensitizing lubes; because of the associated risks, we don’t recommend or endorse the use of these lubes for anal sex or pegging.

If you’d like to try a silicone lubricant but aren’t sure where to start, we reviewed the 5 best and safest silicone personal lubricants, compiled through our own extensive research.

Oil-Based Lubricants

This type of lubricant is great for anyone who wants a hydrating, thicker lubricant.

Like silicone lubes, oil-based lubes are often preferred for anal sex due to their thick but slippery consistency. Oil-based lubes can also be great for anyone who deals with vaginal dryness.

However, oil-based lubricants aren’t compatible with latex condoms or dental dams.

Natural And Organic Lubricants

These types of products are an excellent choice for those who are concerned about the ingredients in their lubricants.

Natural and organic lubricants are usually either water-based or oil-based, so you have a variety to choose from.

We conducted our own independent research and found the 5 best and safest natural and organic lubricants to help you select the perfect product for your needs.

At-Home Lube Alternatives To Vaseline Or Petroleum Jelly

If you’re looking for accessible personal lubricant alternatives to Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products, there are several options you can likely find at home, including:

If you use any of these unique Vaseline alternatives, just make sure to keep in mind that these ingredients may not be compatible with condoms.

Extra virgin olive oil is another home lube alternative that many folks consider to be safe, but we advise against using olive oil as lube — especially when there are so many better options available.

Additionally, you should always do a patch test first on your skin to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the ingredients.

Some of these at-home alternative ingredients can be found in store-bought personal lubricants.

In Conclusion

It’s totally understandable to feel overwhelmed by lubricants, and sometimes, grabbing Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products might seem like the best option because it’s convenient.

However, Vaseline isn’t meant to be a lubricant, and using it as one could cause various — and potentially significant — health issues.

Ultimately, it’s best to stick with using Vaseline for minor cuts or burns or for dry skin, as intended.

With so many alternatives available, however, you’re sure to find a personal lubricant that uniquely meets your needs while allowing you to explore your fantasies in a safer, more enjoyable way.