How to Get Tree Sap Off Your Car

For many people, a clean and presentable car is a must. One unsightly blemish you may experience is that sticky sap you find dotted all over the exterior of your vehicle after you park under a tree for some time. It looks terrible, allows for other debris to get caught up in it, and is tough to remove. Though immediately it is no threat other than making your vehicle look unkempt, it can over time, damage the clear coat leaving your paint unprotected and prone to discoloration. Thus, it is fairly important to address the issue as soon as possible. So, how do you take care of this sticky situation? This article will present ways on how to get tree sap off car that can help you get your vehicle looking its best.

Method 1: Bug Remover

Things You Will Need

  • 2 Soft and Clean Shop Towels
  • Straight Razorblade (to use only if the sap is on glass)
  • Bug and Tar Remover or Rubbing Alcohol
  • Bucket of Water
  • Old Plastic Credit Card
  • Sponge
  • Spray wax or Detailing Polish
  • Car Wash Soap

How to Do It

  1. The first step in how to get tree sap off your car is to thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle. Any car wash soap will do fine.
  2. Pour a modest amount of the bug remover onto a soft shop cloth. Rubbing alcohol is also known to work for this step. Both items are fairly inexpensive and can be found at your local superstore or auto parts store.
  3. Locate the sticky spot of sap and place the dampened shop cloth on top of it. Allow it to set for thirty seconds to one minute. When learning how to get tree sap off the car, be sure to read the label on any chemicals, including the bug remover, so that you are aware of any warnings or precautions listed on it.
  4. Once you have allowed the bug remover to sit, gently rub using a circular motion until the sap is gone. If you have a particularly stubborn spot, it may be necessary to repeat steps three and four.
  5. If you find there is still some sap left behind, you can use the old plastic card to safely scrape it up before doing a final soak and rub with the shop towel and bug remover.
  6. Once you are satisfied that the sap is taken care of, spray the area down with some wax to help protect the area. Then, buff it down with a dry shop cloth to give it a nice finish.

Method 2: Soap and Water

Things You Will Need

  • Car Wash Soap
  • A Bucket with very Hot Water
  • A soft shop towel
  • Car Wax

How to Do It

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best solution. The sooner you are able to take care of the sap on your vehicle, the easier you will find how to get tree sap off the car. Acting fast will offer the easiest option for cleaning the spot with the least amount of effort involved.

  1. Wash the area (or your entire vehicle if need be since you will already have all the supplies handy) and allow it to dry thoroughly. To begin, spray the vehicle down with an initial rinse. This will get rid of any dirt and large debris.
  2. Take your bucket and fill it with water that is as hot as you can stand. Soap up the shop cloth using the hot water and car wash soap. The hot water will loosen and break down the sap making it easier to remove. Allow the hot soapy towel to set on the sap for about 30 seconds.
  3. Wipe the sticky area folding the towel with each swipe so you use a clean spot on the material each time. This will ensure that you do not redeposit any sap back onto the area.
  4. You may have to re-soap and rinse the area a few times in order to get through the sap eliminating it completely.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the results, allow the area to dry completely. Then use some car wax to help replace the shine and protect the area you scrubbed.

Method 3: Other Options

Things You Can Use to Eliminate Sap

  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • WD-40
  • A Commercial Sap Removal Product
  • Bug Remover or Tar Remover

How to Do It

Using one of the products above, this method can be used as a general guideline on how to get tree sap off the car. If one product does not work for you, try another from the list. Each has qualities that can help break down and dissolve the sticky properties of the sap. If you choose to go with a commercial product, be sure to follow the directions carefully to avoid any paint damage.

  1. Thoroughly wash the area with clean water and soap to remove any debris and dirt.
  2. Choose the product you want to use from the list and apply a generous amount on to a clean and dry shop cloth. Allow the dampened cloth to set on the spot where the sap is located to permit it to begin the process of dissolving the sap.
  3. After you weaken the sap by allowing the product to set, the next step in how to get tree sap off the car is to wipe the area. Be sure to use a clean spot on your towel each time you wipe. You can use an old credit card or hard, flat, plastic item to scrape the sap at any point to help get to the base layer. Just be sure to stay flush with the surface to prevent scratching.
  4. Once you have satisfactorily removed that stubborn sap, give the car a good rinse and allow it to dry.
  5. Buff the area with some car wax to replace the shine and help protect the area.


Sticky sap found on your vehicle can be frustrating. It is not only an eyesore but if left on your vehicle too long, can actually cause damage. Luckily learning how to get tree sap off a car is an easy task to master. By following a few simple steps you can get your car looking its best. If you also know how to clean your headlights, you’ll have a car that looks as if it’s brand new.

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