Can You Use Vegetable Oil As Lube Or For Anal Sex? Is It Safe?

The short answer is not really. While it can be safe for external use only, there are many drawbacks that make vegetable oil a poor choice for lube.
Photograph Of Vegetable Oil Bottle On White Table Top With Blurry Bedroom Setting In Background
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Updated:July 2023

The short answer is not really.

Here’s why:

  • Vegetable oil will degrade condoms made from latex and polyisoprene, which may result in unwanted pregnancy or the transmission of STDs and STIs.
  • It can irritate your skin or clog pores, trapping bacteria beneath the surface of your skin and potentially leading to breakouts and infections.

While it can be safe for external use only (assuming you don’t have allergies or sensitive skin), there are a lot of drawbacks that put vegetable oil low on the list of good lube alternatives.

We’ve all been there: Things are getting hot and heavy and in a pinch for some lube, it’s so tempting to raid the kitchen cabinets for anything slippery.

However, when it comes to vegetable oil, it’s best to leave it in the kitchen — and we’ll explain why.

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.

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

Can You Use Vegetable Oil As Lube?

You COULD use vegetable oil as lube but for many reasons, you shouldn’t.

The biggest safety concern is that — like all oils and oil-based lubes in general — vegetable oil will degrade a condom made from latex or polyisoprene, leaving you at risk of pregnancy and STIs.

It’s safe to use oils and oil-based lubes with polyurethane, nitrile, or lambskin condoms, however, although the latter doesn’t offer protection against STDs and STIs.

However, we still don’t recommend using them with vegetable oil.

When vegetable oil degrades a condom made from latex or polyisoprene, it can put you at risk for an unwanted pregnancy or the transmission of STDs and STIs between partners.

You might think that it’s safe to use without condoms, but vegetable oil can clog pores and trap bacteria that may cause breakouts, skin irritation, or infection.

Using vegetable oil externally during masturbation can be somewhat safe, but because it can clog your pores — trapping bacteria inside — it can irritate your skin or lead to infection.

Although vegetable oil is safe to eat, it may not be the most pleasant taste for you or your partner during oral sex. There are better-tasting edible lube options available.

Vegetable oil is safe to use with sex toys made from glass, metal, and silicone but, as we’ll talk about in just a bit, only for external use — with some caveats.

Also, make sure to clean your toys properly afterward!

Last but not least, it just makes a mess. Vegetable oil — like all oils — can permanently stain your clothes and bedding.

Can You Use Vegetable Oil As Vaginal Lube?

Using oils as a lube during vaginal sex may increase your risk of infection, including bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections.

This is especially true if you’re pregnant. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy already put you at higher risk for yeast infections, so you’re better off reaching for a safe, water-based lube.

Vegetable oil as vaginal lube can also cause skin irritation. Since oil doesn’t get absorbed by the skin, it can clog the pores and trap bacteria, potentially leading to breakouts, irritation, and infection.

Vegetable oil is very difficult to wash away, particularly when it’s inside the vaginal canal, leaving you wide open to the threat of infection.

While it’s easier to remove after using it externally on your vulva during masturbation, vegetable oil can still be a challenge to wash off even with soap and water, meaning you could still be at risk for a skin reaction.

For this reason, even if you’re using oil-safe sex toys for external masturbation, you may find that vegetable oil irritates your skin too much.

Can You Use Vegetable Oil As Anal Lube?

As during vaginal use, there are similar risks of irritation and infection when vegetable oil is used as lube during anal sex.

One study found that the use of oil-based lubricants significantly increases the risk of experiencing condom breakage.

As we mentioned earlier, vegetable oil will degrade condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, which can increase your risk of transmitting or contracting STDs or STIs.

Even if the condoms you’re using are oil-safe, vegetable oil can irritate rectal tissue and the skin around your anus, leaving it prone to infection.

This holds true even if you’re using anal-safe toys, such as those used during pegging.

When it comes to any penetrative sex, vegetable oil is best avoided — so choose a safe anal lubricant instead.

What Is Vegetable Oil Made From And Is It Safe?

If you’re wondering what ingredients are in vegetable oil, the answer is a little complicated.

Most commonly, the vegetable oil you buy at the grocery store is 100% soybean oil because it’s the cheapest to manufacture.

However, some vegetable oils are made from soybean oil blended with other oils such as coconut, canola, peanut, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, olive, palm, sesame, or even corn.

The wide range of possible ingredients means you’re more likely to have an allergy or skin reaction when using vegetable oil as a personal lube.

Vegetable oil is a refined cooking oil which means it is heavily processed and goes through chemical treatments during the manufacturing process, similar to canola oil.

The “vegetables” (grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits) are crushed to release the oil and then treated with hexane to extract what oil is left.

Hexane is a chemical found in crude oil and petroleum that’s used to extract oils from vegetables and seeds.

After being treated with hexane, the vegetable oil is refined with phosphoric acid and caustic soda, bleached, and then deodorized.

Compared to something like extra virgin olive oil, which is basically just pressed and filtered, this process introduces a lot of chemicals and ingredients which can potentially react negatively with your skin, both inside and out.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Vegetable Oil?

If you are looking for a better alternative to vegetable oil as a lubricant, there are many body-safe lubes to choose from!

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?

No matter the type of sex you’re having or your personal preferences for a lube, the right product is just waiting to be found. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, take a look at our in-depth lube guide or take our lube quiz to find one!

Let’s take a quick tour of the four main lubricant types below.

  • Water-Based Personal Lubricants

Of all lube options, water-based products are the easiest to use and most versatile. Because they’re water-soluble, they are easy to clean up and can be used with all condom types, dental dams, and diaphragms.

The main drawbacks to water-based products involve their endurance. Being water-based, they’re absorbed by your skin and can “dry up” after a while, requiring reapplication.

Additionally, they can’t be used during sex in the bathtub or shower, since they’re dissolved by water.

If you’re interested in exploring water-based lubes, we did all the research for you and found the best body-safe water-based personal lubricants.

  • Silicone-Based Personal Lubricants

If you’re looking for something long-lasting and safe for all condom types, silicone-based lubes may be just what you’re looking for.

These have a silk-like texture and thick consistency, although they can feel somewhat “unnatural” since it’s noticeably different from your body’s natural lubrication.

That said, they’re an especially great choice for anal sex.

Silicone lubes are waterproof so they can be used in the bath or shower, but they are more difficult to wash off and can stain sheets or bedding.

Additionally, they can’t be used with silicone sex toys, as they can break down their materials.

We reviewed the best silicone-based personal lubes to provide you with a list of the safest and most effective products available right now.

  • Oil-Based Personal Lubricants

Oil-based lubricants are typically made from body-safe oils that are natural and sometimes sourced organically.

It’s important to note, however, that some products use oils derived from nuts, so this can be a concern for those with allergies or sensitivities.

Always read the ingredient list of any oil-based lube before using it.

As we mentioned earlier, oils of any kind cannot be used with condoms made from latex or polyisoprene. They’re only suitable for lambskin, nitrile, or polyurethane condoms.

Oil-based personal lubricants tend to feel similar in texture to those made from silicone and they’re a good choice for anal sex with an oil-safe condom.

We researched and reviewed the best oil-based personal lubricants.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Depending on the product, natural or organic lubes can be water-based or oil-based.

As with oil-based lubes, natural or organic products may include nut-based oils in their ingredient list, so if you have an allergy or sensitivity to these, they’re best avoided.

We found and reviewed the best and safest natural and organic lubricants to help you in your search for the perfect product.

Are There Any Safe At-Home Lube Alternatives?

If you’re really in a pickle and need an around-the-house lube substitute right now, the safest options are aloe vera and extra virgin coconut oil.

Coconut oil is body-safe but, like all other oil-based lubes, it is incompatible with latex or polyisoprene condoms and dental dams.

Aloe vera will not degrade latex and its antimicrobial and antifungal properties make it safe to use internally and externally for most people.

However, those with latex allergies may want to steer clear as aloe vera contains natural latex.

That said, some quality manufacturers like Aloe Cadabra, who we personally reviewed, do take appropriate steps to ensure that no latex enters the formula during the manufacturing process.

Bottom Line: 

When you need a little lubrication on the fly and looking for a DIY alternative, you’re going to want to skip the vegetable oil.

The mess, risk of irritation and infection, and its incompatibility with latex condoms make vegetable oil a less than desirable choice for your around-the-house lube needs!

Instead, seek a better and safer lube option — your body and your sex life will thank you!

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.

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