How to Remove Tree Sap
How to Remove Tree Sap


There's nothing like the leaves fading from green to orange in the fall or lounging in the shade on a scorching summer afternoon. But with the beautiful scenery and the sweet picnic spots comes the sticky substance trees drop onto the surface of our cars.

Tree sap is like the blood of trees - it contains minerals and nutrients that are necessary for the tree's survival.

Although sap will not cause immediate damage to your car's finish, it definitely shouldn't be ignored. If it's left stuck-on for too long, sap can etch through your paint's clear coat, leading to discoloration and stains.

Removing baked-on tree sap from your car without damaging the paint involves a little more strategy than simply washing the car as usual.

To get baked on tree sap off a car, people often turn to commercial bug and tar removers. These usually contain petroleum distillates and kerosene, and highly concentrated varieties may strip off the coat of wax or sealant that protects your car's clear coat.

Nail polish remover is a popular remedy for sap stuck on a window or windshield, but since its sole purpose is to remove paint, it's probably not wise to use on the body of your car. Moreover, one of hand sanitizer's main ingredients, isopropyl alcohol, can permanently damage your car's paint if it's not diluted enough.

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is gentle enough for delicate car surfaces, but tough enough to cut through dirt, grime and bug residue for a clean, polished and protective shine. When used per label instructions, it's safe on aluminum, chrome, titanium and other high-tech alloys, as well as painted and gel-coated surfaces, anodized and electroplated parts, carbon fiber, metals, plastics, rubber and more.

Directions for Removing Tree Sap:

When in doubt about a surface, always spot test first.

  1. Wash and dry your car. For directions on how to do so, click here.
  2. Find the spots of sap. Sap spots will typically be hardened clear or red raised areas. If the sap has been there for a while, it may have already eaten into your car's paint.
  3. Apply Simple Green. Apply full strength Simple Green to a clean washcloth or terry cloth.
  4. Let it sit. Leave the cloth on the each spot for at least 30 seconds.
  5. Gently agitate. Scrub with a soft bristle brush or non-abrasive scrubbing pad.
  6. Rinse. Either rinse with clean water or wipe the spots down with a damp cloth.
  7. Wax. Once the sap is gone, spray the area with some quick wax and polish it off with a lint free cloth.
  8. Air dry.

TIP: For sap removal on your windows or windshield, use a sharp box cutter blade to scrape it off before cleaning. Just be sure to keep it closely flat along the glass so you don't scratch it.


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