Mineral oil lubricants cause rapid deterioration of latex condoms

Contraception. 1989 Jan;39(1):95-102. doi: 10.1016/0010-7824(89)90018-8.


As little as sixty seconds' exposure of commercial latex condoms to mineral oil, a common component of hand lotions and other lubricants used during sexual intercourse, caused approximately 90% decrease in the strength of the condoms, as measured by their burst volumes in the standard ISO (International Standards Organization) Air Burst Test. Burst pressures were also reduced, although less dramatically. Lubricants such as Vaseline Intensive Care and Johnson's Baby Oil, each containing mineral oil, also affected condom integrity. Five min. exposure of condoms to glycerol, a frequent component of hand lotions and 'personal lubricants', did not significantly affect burst volume or pressure. Aqueous nonoxynol-9 spermicide did not affect either burst index. The implications of these results for contraception and protection from sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, are discussed.

PIP: Prolonged exposure of latex goods to mineral oil has long been known to cause deterioration. In order to determine whether mineral oil-lubricated condoms were subject to breakage during the average duration of sexual intercourse, condoms lubricated with 7 common lubricants were subjected to International Standards Organization Air Burst Tests for periods ranging from 60 seconds to 1 hour. The lubricants used were: water, light mineral oil, Squibb Mineral Oil, Johnson's Baby Oil, Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion, glycerol, and an aqueous solution of the spermicidal agent nonoxynol-9. 2 lots of condoms were tested, one of 1-month old condoms and one of 9-months old condoms. The tests demonstrated that mineral oil damaged the latex condoms within 60 seconds. Interviews with 1275 American males indicated that Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion was used by 61%. Johnson's Baby Oil was the choice of over 1/2 of 145 British males. Johnson's Baby Oil is almost pure mineral oil, and Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion contains mineral oil. Mineral oil-lubricated condoms are risky; however, the nonoxynol gel-treated condom, recommended as an AIDS prevention measure, is water-based and therefore safe.

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptive Devices, Male*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Glycerol / adverse effects
  • Glycerol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Latex*
  • Lubrication
  • Male
  • Mineral Oil / adverse effects*
  • Mineral Oil / pharmacology
  • Nonoxynol
  • Polyethylene Glycols / adverse effects
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology


  • Latex
  • Nonoxynol
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Mineral Oil
  • Glycerol