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

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 a plastic tub of vaseline on a nightstand with a pillow and bedding in the blurry backround, concept of using vaseline as a personal lubricant for vaginal, anal, or oral sex and its safety
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Updated:February 2024
safety infographic about using vaseline as lube for vaginal, anal, and oral sex with three separate slider bars depicting that vaseline is not safe for vaginal sex, not safe for anal sex, and not safe for oral sex, with the women’s health interactive logo at the bottom

Using Vaseline or other similar petroleum jelly products as a personal lubricant for vaginal intercourse, anal sex, or oral sex is not recommended in any circumstance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vaseline contains mineral oil, which can cause irritation, itching, burning, or even rash on the vulva, vagina, or anus. It also increases the risk of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
  • Vaseline and other petroleum-based products will break down latex condoms (and those made from polyisoprene) along with diaphragms, putting you at risk for unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used as lube during sexual intercourse.
  • They also break down dental dams — even though petroleum jelly products and Vaseline pose a choking hazard when ingested and should never be used for oral sex.
  • Finally, Vaseline and other petroleum-based products will stain fabrics and are difficult to wash away.
 

You might think using Vaseline or petroleum jelly as a sexual lubricant is convenient, but you’re far better off reaching for something safer — whether that’s another lube alternative or a store-bought personal lube.

Can You Use Vaseline As Lube?

No — and there are several important reasons why you should avoid using Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products as personal lubricants.

Here’s what you need to know about using Vaseline as a lubricant:

  • It will degrade condoms made from latex and polyisoprene — quickly
  • It can make you prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis
  • It will stain clothing and sheets
  • It is difficult to remove from the skin

Petroleum-based products, including Vaseline, often lead to infections because they stay on the skin for a longer period of time compared to personal lubricants specifically designed for sex.

For this reason, Vaseline shouldn’t be used on your vagina or in your anus.

Vaseline creates an environment that allows yeast and bacteria to flourish and if that isn’t scary enough, one study found that women were 2.2 times as likely to develop bacterial vaginosis when using petroleum jelly vaginally.

As we’ll discuss 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, diaphragms, and dental dams.

In fact, mineral oil will deteriorate a latex condom’s strength by 90% in less than a minute, rendering them ineffective and leaving you vulnerable to a variety of STIs while also putting you or your partner at risk for unintended pregnancy.

The deterioration of condoms is especially problematic during anal sex. Transmission of STIs is a risk that is compounded by the potential damage to the anus that leaves it more prone to infection.

As it relates to oral sex, petroleum jelly can cause coughing or aspiration due to its thick texture — it isn’t meant to be consumed.

Vaseline can also stain fabrics, and it can be hard to clean — even harder than silicone-based lubricants or oil-based lubes since it’s not made to be used as a lubricant, to begin with.

Vaseline is not compatible with certain sex toy materials, particularly latex and jelly rubber, because it will degrade them. It could also degrade a high-quality silicone sex toy, as well.

Considering that there are so many alternatives that are much safer for the most intimate parts of your body, it’s best to avoid using Vaseline for any sexual activity.

Can You Use Vaseline As Vaginal Lube?

No, you shouldn’t use Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products as a vaginal lubricant.

In fact, it’s not safe to put Vaseline on your vulva or vagina in any other instance, either, because of its mineral oil (petroleum) base.

Can You Use Vaseline As Anal Lube?

No, you should not use Vaseline or petroleum jelly products as an anal lubricant.

It can be somewhat safe to use Vaseline on your anus externally for hemorrhoid relief, but it shouldn’t be used 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 put you and your partner at unintended risk.

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

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

What Is Vaseline Made From And Is It Safe?

photograph with a closeup view of an open tub of vaseline (petroleum jelly) to display its texture, the concept of what it's made from and whether it is a safe lube alternative for vaginal, anal, or oral sex

The primary ingredient in Vaseline is white petroleum jelly, also known as petrolatum.

It is derived from crude oil drilled from the ground — which can contain hundreds of petroleum compounds depending on its place of origin.

What this means, however, is that the oil must go through heavy refinement to extract the wax and oil compounds used in Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products.

While refinement makes it “clean,” it’s a rigorous process of distillation. Vaseline notes that its product is triple-filtered to remove all impurities.

For this reason, Vaseline is considered low-risk in terms of its intended use on skin.

While Vaseline is purified to remove 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 helpful in some cosmetic items, it is often given orally as a laxative.

While it’s unlikely you would consume enough mineral oil to achieve this effect when using Vaseline as a lubricant for oral sex, you probably don’t want to risk it — and its thick texture presents a choking hazard, as well.

Some petroleum jelly products may also include glycerin as an added ingredient.

While glycerin can be beneficial when used topically on less sensitive skin, it has been shown to cause damage to vaginal and anal tissue, making it an ingredient best avoided in lubricants.

Since Vaseline is often considered 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.

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 (like Neosporin), 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.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Vaseline?

Instead of Vaseline, we highly suggest using a store-bought personal lubricant that is body-safe.

There are many personal lubricant options available, including:

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

Lube Type:
Water-Based
Silicone-Based
Oil-Based
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.

  • Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

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.

Closing Thoughts

It’s totally understandable when searching for something quick when getting down, to grab Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products.

Most of us have Vaseline or a similar petroleum jelly product in our medicine cabinets right now.

However, Vaseline as a lubricant could cause various — and potentially significant — health issues and is NOT recommended as a lube under any circumstance.

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

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.

Sexuality & Sexual Health