Over the past month or so, the internet's been drooling over a promotional video for Rust-Oleum's magical new liquid-repelling treatment. And rightly so! According to the promotional video, no matter the type of liquid, sauce, or lurid emulsion, all offending gunk immediately slides away from treated objects. But that's the promotional video. Surely it can't really work that well, right? We decided to find out.

What Is It?

Rust-Oleum's new silicone-based, liquid-repellant coating with lofty superhydrophobic claims. And according to the can, its "contents contain a chemical known to cause cancer and birth defects." So that's exciting.

Who's It For?

People who want to keep water off of their belongings.. Tormenters of sea life. Kevin Costner in Waterworld.

Design

The kit comes with two aerosol cans. They look like aerosol cans.

Using It

Now as a disclaimer, most all of the items we tested NeverWet on didn't necessarily fall within the range of its "intended use" or things that one might call "practical." But that would be neither fun, nor would it hold its makers accountable for their brazen claims (they sprayed the hell out of a phone in that promo vid, remember).

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

Application is relatively simple. Spray a few rounds of the first coating on whatever you want to stay dry forever, give it half an hour to settle, spray a few rounds of the second coat, wait 12 hours, and boom—you hold in your hands something that shall be wet never again. Or so they claim.

For our purposes, we decided to coat a toilet paper roll, a USB drive, a sponge, and several multi-grain tortilla chips.

Going into this, we were highly skeptical, to say the least. You'll be happy to hear that we were (mostly) wrong. The stuff is awesome. After its NeverWet treatment, we doused, submerged, and ravaged that toilet paper roll with water for a good five minutes before it started to feel noticeably damp. And while five minutes doesn't sound ideal for something you want to keep water—free forever, it's incredible to see a product that's explicitly designed to disintegrate in water shed droplets faster than a sheet of glass.

The sponge offered similarly impressive results. Although given the number of hard-to-reach crevices we didn't quite get with the spray, it only lasted for about 45 seconds or so before the water managed to soak through.

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

NeverWet's packaging explicitly tells you never to put the stuff on electronics. But in the promotional video, they use NeverWet on electronics. So we put NeverWet on electronics.

We're happy to report that our little thumb drive came out virtually unscathed. Covered in chalky white gunk, yes, but unscathed, nonetheless. After being coated in the spray, soaked in a bucket of water for a bit, and having some residual gunk removed from its insides, the flash drive plugged in and ran without a hitch. The spray makes it highly unpleasant to hold, though, and there's practically no reason you'd ever want or need to coat any sort of gadget in this stuff; it would almost certainly interfere with more delicate circuitry. But, hey, it kind of works for the most part. The more you know.

Now, obviously, you should never eat NeverWet. Or ideally touch it or breathe it or go anywhere near it. That being said, and going against every physical and culinary law known to man, our NeverWet-coated tortilla chips dropped that salsa faster than you can say "poison-flavored Doritos." Great for everyday use? Probably not. Perfect if you want to prank/hate/probably kill your friends? Sure.

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

The Best Part

It works! Sure, its protective barrier starts crumbling in under 10 minutes, but that's a vast improvement over our original expectation of approximately 0 minutes. And that, boys and girls, is why you should always keep your expectations as low as possible.

Tragic Flaw

While it's only been a few days, it seems incredibly unlikely that the coating would last through any continued wear and tear. When we handled the dried, treated items, bits of white, superhydrophobic magic started flaking off after merely picking it up. We thought that it might just be an initial sloughing of excess skin, but it kept happening.

At the end of the session, the water bucket was coated with a fine layer of discarded NeverWet. Same goes for the salsa. And even the USB drive (the plastic of which is included in the materials best-suited to NeverWet) continued to shed off bits of white as easily as its other temporarily waterproof brethren. So while its water-repellent qualities may be a fun—nay, phenomenal party trick, don't expect it to last.

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

This Is Weird...

Apparently there's a reason everything they spray down in the promotional video is white. The box claims that the coating dries to a "milky white haze," but what you really end up with is more along the lines of "someone vomited small amounts of white paint onto my belongings and left it in the sun to dry." Generally speaking.

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

And as we already mentioned, that pre-digested milky mélange shakes off with alarming ease—from the places you actually want it to stick to, that is. Because once you get that stuff on your hands—or any other body part for that matter (exploration and curiosity are perfectly natural)—it ain't coming off easy.

The feeling of getting NeverWet on your fingers is akin to a thin, chalky glove just sticky enough to be perpetually unpleasant. It took us about eight rounds of going Lady Macbeth on the sink before we could even begin to envision a life unplagued by constant, internal chants of "unclean."

NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

Test Notes

  • The cans don't go far. We went through an entire set simply spraying down the lineup you see above. And we didn't even get to do the highest recommendation of 4 coats of the second spray.
  • We didn't quite manage to fully coat the chips, but you can clearly see the parts that got good and sprayed. So even though the sides catch some salsa, for the most part, it's totally effective.
  • This stuff smells like dead brain cells.

Should I Buy It?

At $20 bucks a set with only about 15 square feet of coverage per set, probably not, especially given the lack of long-term efficacy, the filmy white gunk, and the cancer stuff. If you're using it for practical purposes, it doesn't quite make sense to invest in water-proofing any decent-sized area with something that will almost definitely require constant touchups. But if you just want to buy it so you can spray it on a bunch of weird crap, go right ahead! We did.

Supposedly, though, the minds behind NeverWet are currently working on clear-drying version that could make this stuff far more commercially viable. No word yet as to when that might hit shelves (if ever), but now that might be something worth having.

Specs

  • Best for: Metal, wood, concrete, aluminum, galvanized metal, PVC, masonry, asphalt, vinyl siding, plastic, "and more."
  • Good for: Fabric, leather, and canvas—assuming you don't mind changing the color of your fabric, leather, and canvas goods to a "milky haze."
  • Kit coverage: 10-15 square feet.
  • Re-application suggestion: "NeverWet should be reapplied when water no longer rolls off the surface."
  • Step 1 spray contains: methyl isobutyl, ketone, butyl acetate, and mineral spirits.
  • Step 2 spray contains: acetone.