If you live in an area with a lot of trees, you’ve probably dealt with tree sap on your car. Tree sap is quite acidic and can do permanent damage to your paint, so you need to deal with it quickly. Improperly removed sap spots is an issue we see frequently in our detailing business so we have a few tips that may help you. Here are a few things you should, and shouldn’t, do to remove tree sap from your car.
5 Tips to Effectively Remove Tree Sap
1. Do Use a Microfiber Cloth
If you need to remove tree sap from your car, use something that isn’t abrasive such as a microfiber towel. Simply dampen the clean cloth with warm water and let it sit on the spot to soften the dried sap, then wipe it off. Keep in mind that a more abrasive cloth, such as a terry cloth towel, can end up doing more harm than good.
2. Don’t Try to Scrape It Off
Trying to scrape tree sap off of your car is a bad idea and may permanently scuff your car’s paint. If the blade is held upright, as if cutting down on the glass, it can certainly be cut. Plus, there’s no way you’re getting it all off by just scraping it. Even if it seems like you managed to get all the sap using a box cutter blade or razor blade, some of it will likely remain. The remaining sap will sit and do damage to your car until you clean it off properly.
3. Do Use a Gentle Product Like Wax and Grease Remover
We often use a wax and grease remover to remove tree sap from our customers’ vehicles. Some detailing supply companies will have it labeled as sap remover but very similar to wax and grease remover. This is an affordable, effective, and gentle way to remove sap from your car that you can easily do at home. Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol can also be effective at removing tree sap without removing the layers of protection you need.
4. Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals
Don’t be tempted to try a “home remedy” using common household cleaning products like dish detergent or nail polish. If a product is not designed and tested for automotive use, you don’t know how your paint will react or what kind of damage it might do.
5. Do Be Proactive
The best way to protect your car from tree sap is to make sure the sap never touches your paint in the first place. One way to do this is by applying a ceramic coating to your car. Ceramic coatings form a long-lasting bond with your car and prevent contaminants like tree sap from doing permanent damage.
At Details Matter, we have the capability to scrape the sap off very gently using specific tools for different parts of the vehicle. We use automotive plastic razor blades. Plastic razor blades won’t peel the paint off. If they get damaged from scraping stuff we toss them in the trash. Typically we try to grab a new blade one every new vehicle to reduce marring on the paint. We also use metal blades on glass.
In addition to tree sap, there are a few other things you should avoid if you want to keep your car looking great, including bird droppings and bug splatter.
At Details Matter, we provide auto enthusiasts in Melbourne, Florida and the surrounding area with professional detailing and automotive protection services, including ceramic coatings. Please contact us today to learn more about the benefits of a ceramic coating and how it can keep your car protected from contaminants such as tree sap.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get Tree Sap Off Car
What Trees Drop the Most Sap?
The Sugar Maple tree, Birch trees, and Chinese Elm trees are known for leaving behind copious amounts of sap as they grow in certain climates.
What if the sap is on my windows?
When sap accumulates on your windows, it can be difficult to remove without damaging the glass. Try to clean the window with a soapy water solution or rubbing alcohol. You can also spray WD-40 or a similar lubricant onto a damp cloth and work it into the sap. This should loosen the substance enough to be wiped away with a dry cloth. Be sure to use a clean soft cloth along with a light touch, otherwise you may end up scratching or abrading the glass while trying to break away at the sap.
Does nail polish remover remove tree sap?
Using nail polish remover on car paint can be a tricky endeavor that can result in disastrous consequences if done incorrectly. While it may be tempting to grab whatever is at hand and tackle a stubborn spot of polish, the truth is that nail polish removers are formulated with acetone that can damage car paint if left on the surface too long or allowed to dry out. Professional car care experts do not recommend using nail polish remover on car paint for this very reason.
Is WD-40 safe to use on car paint?
WD-40 can potentially damage the finish or strip away waxes and sealants already applied and should not be used on car paint.
Will a car wash remove tree sap?
Vinegar may remove the sap, but it can strip paint sealants. It should not be used to remove tree sap from cars.
This article was originally published on November 9, 2017 but has been updated for accuracy and freshness.