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 Vaseline Tub On Nightstand With View Of Bed In Background
We independently research and vet everything we recommend. Our team is supported by affiliate commissions. Learn more →
Updated:July 2023

Using Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products as a personal lubricant for vaginal intercourse or anal sex is not recommended.

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 — despite the fact that 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.

[Back To Top]

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.

Vaseline contains mineral oil which is irritating to the vagina, potentially causing soreness, itching, burning, and even a skin rash.

Using Vaseline as lube for vaginal sex can increase your risk of developing an infection, including yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Vaseline and other petroleum-based products (like baby oil) have a barrier effect on the skin, making them difficult to remove easily — and that’s especially true when it comes to the vaginal canal.

Although mineral oil is non-comedogenic and won’t clog your pores, it can irritate the delicate skin of the vulva so it shouldn’t be used for external masturbation, either.

Even if the Vaseline itself doesn’t cause a reaction on your skin, the act of washing it off likely will because it can’t be removed thoroughly without soap and quite a bit of scrubbing.

Finally, Vaseline will degrade sex toys made from latex, rubber, and potentially those made from silicone.

[Back To Top]

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.

The most likely reason is that petroleum jelly degrades latex condoms, as well as those made from polyisoprene.

Those who aren’t aware of this may use those condoms with Vaseline, thinking they’re protected from STIs without realizing they’re putting themselves at more risk.

Additionally, they may also be less likely to take other preventive measures, such as taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a pill that helps to prevent HIV.

Vaseline can irritate delicate rectal tissue, leaving it more prone to developing an infection and that risk is only further enhanced when condom degradation occurs.

Even if you use toys for pegging or anal sex, using petroleum jelly as a lubricant can still increase your likelihood of developing anal irritation or infection while degrading your toys in the process.

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

[Back To Top]

What Is Vaseline Made From And Is It Safe?

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

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.

[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 (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.

[Back To Top]

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:
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.

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

  • 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 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.

We researched and reviewed the best oil-based lubricants so you can find your ideal match quickly and easily.

  • 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 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 a natural 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.

Bottom Line: 

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