How to remove pine tree sap from a car

How to Remove Dry Tree Sap From Your Car

There are few scenarios more precarious than a car parked under a tree in early spring. You not only have to be concerned about bird poop when parking under a canopy, but you also have to worry about drops of sap damaging your car’s paint. (Believe us – it happens more frequently than you think!)

Although a little tree sap on your vehicle doesn’t seem like the end of the world, it can quickly become problematic if left to dry. Left under a beating sun, tree sap on a car hardens like epoxy, and the longer it’s on a vehicle’s exterior, the more potential there is to strip away the paint and eat through the clear protective coat.

However, sap won’t mangle your vehicle’s paint overnight. If your car has just recently been the victim of a wicked maple tree, there’s still time to remedy the soon-to-be problem. Here are some tips to help you get rid of tree sap without ruining your car’s paint.

Before we begin, here’s a forewarning: cleaning tree sap off a car can be quite a difficult task. It requires a lot of elbow grease, free time, and the right weather. If you aren’t in a position to complete this DIY project, you should consider visiting a local auto paint shop for professional assistance. Over and out.

  • Hand Wash ASAP
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Mineral Spirits
  • Razor Blade
  • WD-40
  • Cooking Oil
  • Commercial Cleaners
  • Baking Soda
  • Visit a Trusted Auto Paint Shop for Professional Sap Removal

Hand Wash ASAP

Automatic car washes are convenient, but they rarely help to clean old tree sap from your vehicle’s exterior. In fact, automated carwashes may even make matters worse by spreading the sap around! A good hand-washing is the best option, particularly if you’re able to take a sponge to your vehicle before the sap has a chance to dry.  

  1. To start, grab all your materials: a couple of buckets of hot water – the key to cleaning tree sap is hot water – a hose or power washer, sponges, carwash soap, and a microfiber cloth.
  2. Next, park your vehicle somewhere shady (but not under a tree). Sun will prematurely dry water, leaving water stains and increasing the odds of being scratched.
  3. Then, rinse your vehicle thoroughly, leaving no nook or cranny un-rinsed. If you choose to use a power washer, be sure the nozzle is put on a wider setting to ensure it won’t damage the paint.
  4. Once the vehicle has been rinsed, scrub the sap and entire car with a clean sponge or washing mitt and soap. Again, hot water makes a big difference as heat helps soften any dry sap.
  5. Rinse and repeat, literally, until the sap is no longer visible. You can use your fingernail to scratch away any leftovers.
  6. Finally, dry the car completely and apply a strong coat of car wax. Polish it up for good measure.

Most people will find the hand-wash method successful, though you may need to take additional steps to remove stubborn tree goop on a car. Check out these other methods to get rid of sap:

Rubbing Alcohol or Mineral Spirits

  1. Soak a clean cloth or rag – be sure it’s clean! – in mineral spirits or isopropyl rubbing alcohol* until thoroughly dampened.
  2. Apply the soaked cloth directly to the tree sap, allowing it to sit for approximately 30 seconds. (Note: Alcohol can strip away auto paint and clear coats, so don’t leave the rag on your vehicle for too long.)
  3. Check the sap – has it softened? Can you rub it off with the cloth? If not, repeat step 2. If the sap is more pliable, continue to step 3.
  4. Gently wipe away the sap, using a circular “wax on, wax off” motion. If needed, pour a steady stream of piping-hot water directly on the tree sap for 15 seconds, then wipe any leftovers away.
  5. Finally, rinse and wash the area with hot water and soap to remove any remnants of alcohol.

*Additionally, you can use hand sanitizer or another type of alcohol.

Razor Blade

  1. First, loosen the sap by using a commercial product, rubbing alcohol, or an oil-based lubricant.
  2. Grab a clean razor blade/utility knife* and very gently and safely attempt to scrape the sap off.
  3. Slowly wiggle the blade underneath the sap, which will give yourself the opportunity to “peel” it away.
  4. We can’t stress it enough – go very slowly! Any wrong move can strip away or leave a dark gouge in your paint, requiring you to visit an auto body shop for repairs.

*This is a last-resort method, as taking a sharp blade to your vehicle can seriously damage your car’s paint if done incorrectly. It’s a great method to remove tree sap from windshields and windows, but using a blade on your paint is risky.


  1. Spray WD-40 directly on the sap stain and allow it to soak for 5 minutes.
  2. Apply a wet cloth, soaked in hot water, on top for added penetration. (Optional)
  3. Use the cloth to rub away the sap, repeating steps 1 and 2 as needed.
  4. Once the sap is gone, wash the area with hot water and soap.

Cooking Oil

  1. If the sap is fresh, you can coat it in non-toxic cooking oil, such as coconut oil or canola oil. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Apply a wet cloth, soaked in hot water, on top for added penetration. (Optional)
  3. Wipe away the sap, repeating steps 1 and 2 as needed.
  4. Finally, wash the area with hot water and soap.

Commercial Cleaners

  1. Purchase a commercial cleaning or adhesive removal product that’s designed to help remove sticky substances. Goof Off, Goo Gone, Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover, and 3M™ Adhesive Remover are all good options, but there are numerous products that work well.
  2. Follow the product’s directions for use, or apply the chemicals to a clean cloth and leave it on top of the sap for a few minutes.
  3. Wipe away the sap and repeat step 2 as necessary.
  4. Once the sap is a goner, wash the area with hot water and soap.

Baking Soda

  1. Create a thick paste out of warm water and baking soda.
  2. Cover the tree sap on your car with the paste, gently spreading it around without scratching the paint.
  3. Allow this to sit for a few moments.
  4. Pour a stream of boiling water over the top of the sap and baking soda.
  5. Wipe the area down with a clean, damp rag.

Visit a Trusted Auto Paint Shop for Professional Sap Removal

Of course, if you simply can’t get rid of that tree sap or don’t want to run the risk of further damaging your vehicle’s paint job, your best bet may be to take a trip to a car body shop like our McCarthy Collision Centers in Kansas City. Professional technicians should be able to clean off the sap and re-paint any stripped-away areas in no time. Contact one of our auto paint shops in Missouri or Kansas to receive a free quote for repairs, and stop parking underneath trees, would ya? 


How to Remove Tree Sap From Car Without Damaging Paint?

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Tree sap on a car is a big problem. Not only can they be unsightly and hamper visibility when driving, but they can also be challenging to remove and damaging to paintwork if not removed immediately. Another concern is the possibility of scratching the paintwork in the cleaning process.

If there’s tree sap on your car, keep calm and follow these steps on how to remove tree sap from car without damaging paint, which involves car washing, soaking and agitating tree sap, and re-washing and waxing. You can follow this tutorial to tackle the problem carefully.

Table of Contents

  • What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
  • Step by Step Instructions
    • Step 1: Start With Washing the Car
    • Step 2: Soak and Agitate the Tree Sap
    • Step 3: Treat extra stubborn tree sap and pine sap
    • Step 4: Re-Wash and Wax the Car
  • Conclusion

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

There are different options for cleaners for removing tree sap from car. You can use whatever you have available or use a commercial cleaner to remove tree sap.

  • Car Washing and Waxing Materials – You’re going to do some car washing and waxing in the cleaning process, so prepare the things you usually use for car washing and waxing.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol can effectively get tree sap off car.
  • Microfiber Cloths – Microfiber cloths are required to scrub the tree sap or wipe off the residue in the cleaning process. You will also need one when cleaning the windshield and windows with white vinegar.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Since it contains alcohol, it can be used as a substitute for alcohol.
  • Cotton Balls – Some cotton balls would be needed for applying cleaner and scrubbing the tree sap, particularly if you’re going to use hand sanitizer on the paintwork, rubbing alcohol on the windshield and windows, and nail polish remover for removing pine sap.
  • WD40 – WD40 is a multi-purpose product that can also be used to remove tree sap from a car.
  • Cling Film or Large Paper Towel – You need to use either of these for covering the affected areas sprayed with WD40 to let it work on the tree sap.
  • Commercial Tree Sap Remover – There are commercial cleaners specially made to remove tree sap available in auto shops.
  • Soft Bristled Brush or Non-Abrasive Scrub Brush – When cleaning with a commercial sap cleaner, either could be used for gently agitating the sap.
  • Vinegar – It is for removing tree sap from the windshield and windows.
  • Box Cutter Blade is used to scrape very hard tree sap from the windshield and windows. But don’t use it on the paintwork, as it can scratch the paint.
  • Hot Water – When the tree sap on your car has become hard to remove, you will need hot water to soften them.
  • Nail Polish Remover – If it’s very sticky pine sap you’re dealing with, nail polish remover would be the solution. The acetone in the nail polish remover is the key ingredient for breaking up the pine sap.
  • Baking Soda – You need to mix this with hot water to create a paste for cleaning the area where nail polish remover was used.

Step by Step Instructions

There are only a few steps to get sap off your car without ruining the paint. But they will depend on what cleaner you will use as well as exactly what kind of sap you will be dealing with. So just find the steps for whatever circumstance you have.

Step 1: Start With Washing the Car

The best way to get sap off car is first to give the car a wash.

By car washing before removing sap, you would better see where all the sap is, as all the dirt and debris is cleaned out. Or doing so may even get rid of the sap already.

But if some sap remains, there would still be more cleaning for you to do. Having the car washed allows you to clean off sap without any particles that may get in the way and scratch or damage its exterior.

Step 2: Soak and Agitate the Tree Sap

It’d be easier to inspect for tree sap with the dirt and debris out of the way. Locate the affected areas and once you’ve found them, prepare for the soaking and agitating.

1. On the Paintwork

There are many cleaner options for cleaning tree sap off the paintwork. You may use any of the options that you have available, or you can buy a commercial sap remover. See how you can clean sap with the different cleaners below:

  • Use Rubbing Alcohol – Apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth. Place the cloth on top of the tree sap and leave it there for at least 30 seconds.
  • Then gently agitate the surface until the sap has dissipated.
  • You may have to repeat the soaking and scrubbing if necessary. But you shouldn’t apply too much alcohol, as it might damage the paintwork. Applying more elbow grease than alcohol would be much safer.
  • If there is some good left on the surface, you can gently scratch them with your fingernail. Or a much safer option would be to scrub the sap residues with a multi-purpose brush.
  • Use a Hand Sanitizer – Without alcohol, you can use hand sanitizer to take off tree sap from car instead. Soak a cotton ball with hand sanitizer. Then agitate the tree sap with the hand sanitizer-soaked cotton ball to remove them.
  • Use WD40 – Shake the can well and liberally spray WD40 on the affected areas. Then you would let it work on the tree sap for about five minutes with a cling film or large paper towel covering the affected areas. Afterward, wipe away the residue and WD40 from the surface.
  • Use Commercial Cleaner – If you choose to use a commercial cleaner for tree sap, follow the instructions for the product. But usually, you would apply it on a cloth, place the cloth with the solution on the affected areas for 30 seconds, then gently scrub the sap.
  • Afterward, you would rinse the affected areas or wipe them off with a damp cloth.

2. On the Windshield and Windows

Cleaning tree sap off the windshield and windows is relatively easier, as you won’t have to move cautiously to not damage the paint. Below are the different ways you can clean sap off the windshield and windows:

  • Use Rubbing Alcohol – Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, and place the cotton ball on the tree sap for about 5-10 minutes. Afterward, rub the alcohol-soaked cotton ball on the sap. Then wipe the affected areas with a clean cotton ball.
  • Use White Vinegar – Spray an adequate amount of vinegar on the affected areas. Let the vinegar sit on them for five to seven minutes. Afterward, wipe the affected areas.
  • Optional: Box Cutter Blade – If the tree sap on the windshield or windows has caked up and got stuck on, you may also gently scrape them off using a box cutter blade.

Step 3: Treat extra stubborn tree sap and pine sap

For stubborn, hardened tree sap on your car, you would need the reinforcement of hot water to remove hardened tree sap from car.

Hot water will soften the sap and make wiping them off easier. Dampen a microfiber cloth with hot water, apply alcohol on it, and scrub the affected areas.

Pine sap is very sticky. When you’re going to remove pine sap from car, you will need to use nail polish remover and exert a bit of elbow grease. Take a cotton ball, soak it with nail polish remover, and rub the affected areas in circular motions.

Once all the pine sap is removed, you will also have to create a baking soda and water paste to clean the areas where nail polish was used. Create the paste by combining a cup of baking soda and three cups of hot water, apply it to a cloth, and clean off the residue with it.

Step 4: Re-Wash and Wax the Car

After cleaning off the tree sap, you will need to give your car another wash to eliminate any residues.

Finish off the cleaning process by applying wax for a new layer of protection for your car.


The key to how to remove tree sap from car without damaging paint is to do it cautiously to avoid any damages. You have to be careful even with the cleaner. You should scrub the paintwork and scrape the windshield and windows gently. Also, keep in mind to wash your car before and after and to apply wax.

How did you find this article? Tell us if you liked it in the comments. You may also share it to help other car owners too.


"As the content writer of Charmcitycirculator, I intend to bring just the best purchase options and straightforward answers to your problems. Other than what we put up on our website, we hope to hear more from you. "

– Bruce Sonnier

Removing tar and tree buds from a car body

Washing a car of tar or tree buds - use hand sanitizer.

Together with unscrupulous or inept auto mechanics, fines from traffic police cameras and various car malfunctions, buds that have fallen from trees and adhering resin are the same unpleasant and worst nightmares for any car enthusiast. The fact is that adhering resin and tree buds, hitting the car, seriously spoil the paintwork of the car body. Due to the specific chemical composition of resin or tree buds, it will be very, very difficult to wash them off the car body in traditional ways. Many car owners resort to various chemical compositions (means) sold in car dealerships, spending a lot of money on them. Some of the car owners go straight to the car wash, hoping to clean their car from the resulting tar stains and kidneys. But do not rush friends to get to the car wash, there is a simpler and fairly quick easy way to easily remove resin from the body of your car. And what is interesting here and most importantly, this method is the cheapest, simplest and most reliable, it carries less risk of damaging the factory paint of the car body.

See also: Ten myths about washing and washing your car

For our part, we have nothing against various special chemical detergents. But not all products on the market can cope with the formed and stubborn stains on the car. And some products, on the contrary, can damage your car while cleaning it from stains.

So friends, take your time and be careful when choosing products to clean your car from tar or other very sticky contaminants.

But for our part, we think why waste your precious time studying a large and even huge amount of chemistry (chemicals) for cleaning a car .. (?) After all, in any network grocery supermarket (usually at the checkout) or in In any pharmacy, you can freely purchase hand sanitizer, which is used daily by millions of citizens around the world. With the help of this hand sanitizer, you can easily clean your car of adhering resin and tree bud stains (especially spruce and poplar buds) without resorting to other more costly and time-consuming ways.

First, if you notice that your car body is stained with sticky resin, then please do not try to clean it (body) with a damp cloth, this will not help remove the sticky substance. In any case, something more powerful and reliable is needed to remove the resin from the car.

Here's what you need to do first to quickly and easily remove tar, tree buds or other sticky substances from the car bodywork quickly and easily.

Hand sanitizer (preferably not cheap and well-known brands) should be prepared to remove tar or other adhering substances.

  1. Take a hand sanitizer and apply one drop of the product directly to the stain of tar or sticky tree bud

You don't need too much hand sanitizer to get rid of sticky stains from tar, tree buds, and the like. Start first slowly with one drop, squeezing it out of the container of this antibacterial agent.

  1. Using one finger, gently rub this drop of hand sanitizer over the entire surface of the sticky patch

Just don't press too hard when rubbing the hand cleanser. Your task is to gently distribute the antibacterial agent over the entire surface of the resin stain without much pressure.

  1. Dry the smudge with a paper towel or large cloth

After you apply hand sanitizer to a tar or tree bud stain, the stain (tar or tree bud stain) will begin to gradually disappear or move away from the body. Your task, friends, is to dry the treated surface with a paper towel or with a paper towel.

Please note that the stain may not completely disappear and there may still be some small resin residues on the car body.

  1. Rinse sticky residue on the car body with a damp cloth or paper towel

To remove resin residue, dampen a cloth with a little water. Well, then wipe the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe remaining contamination with this damp cloth (the movement of the cloth should be directed downwards).

Then dry the stain with a waffle or paper towel.

Friends, draw your attention to the fact that in our today's review on the method of removing tar from a car body in the photographs presented, you can see an old SUV with faded paint on the body. However, as you can see from the photo example, after removing the resin from the body of the old car with an antibacterial hand cleaner, the paint on the body of the car was not damaged in the slightest.

We also draw your attention to the fact that if your car has been treated with wax to protect the paintwork, then after performing the procedure to remove resin or buds from trees from the car body, you will have to restore this protective layer. The thing is, this hand sanitizer will remove the layer of wax in the very place where you will process and remove sticky dirt from the car body.

And more. Some skeptics may start to criticize this method of cleaning, at the same time arguing that this hand sanitizer contains a high concentration of alcohol (up to 70%) in its composition, which can damage or corrode the car's paintwork.

Theoretically, they are somewhat right, since alcohol can really corrode the paintwork of a car. But not in our current case.

We checked and experimented on our car and can assure you that nothing happened to the paint and varnish of the car body, despite the fact that we used this (such) antibacterial agent with a fairly high alcohol content.

It's actually a common myth that hand sanitizer can damage car body paint.

Firstly, when removing tar stains with hand sanitizer, this contamination disappears (comes off) very quickly. Plus, the alcohol itself also begins to evaporate from the surface of the stain very quickly. Also, do not forget that in order to remove resin from the car body, a negligible amount of such an antibacterial agent is needed. As a result, if you take a closer look and compare everything, you can be sure that even theoretically in the process of such cleaning you will not be able to damage the paintwork of your car in any way.

But nevertheless, despite the clear facts presented, which prove to us that the hand treatment agent does not affect the paintwork layer in any way, we still recommend to all our readers before starting to clean the paint that has appeared on the car stains, first apply a small drop of this agent to the place of the car (body) that is not visible to the eye (for example, to the surface under the hood) to make sure for yourself that the paint and varnish on the car body interact well with this antibacterial agent for hands

Please note that on the example of an old American SUV, we carried out several tests with the hand sanitizer described by us, applying it to various surfaces of the body of this car that were not at all contaminated with tar. But no matter how hard we tried on our part, we did not manage to damage the paintwork of the car with this antibacterial agent.

Important to know: Auto body corrosion warranty

So friends, you can forget that unpleasant nightmare that various resins or sticky buds from trees that get on the body of your car bring you, you can get rid of them quickly and cheaply.

Good luck everyone!

How to clean tar from a car, means for removing tar and bitumen from a car body

Many car owners are often faced with the appearance of traces of resin, especially in the summer, when the main work is carried out to repair the asphalt pavement. Removing resin from a machine is a tedious and time-consuming process that can easily scratch the paint. Unfortunately, this problem cannot be solved with a regular car wash, but there are several methods that will help remove the resin from the car body and return the shiny surface.

How to clean resin from a car

Wash the car as soon as possible. The longer such a substance remains on the surface, the more difficult it is to deal with it. Quickly taken action always contributes to the least amount of effort and ensures success in getting results.

  • There are many products on the automotive chemical market, but as a rule, these are products for removing fresh dirt. They include surfactants and contain a minimum amount of alcohols and solvents, which allows you to save a layer of paint and varnish.
  • Fresh resin stains from the body can also be removed with a tool known to many motorists - ordinary margarine. It, unlike various aerosols that are sprayed onto a cold body, is recommended to be applied only to a warm surface. When heated, it quickly melts and during grinding it mixes better with viscous bitumen. It is recommended to use a microfiber cloth to clean such stains, impregnated with any composition, it gently cleans the surface without leaving scratch marks.
  • Among the many ways to deal with tar stains, there are folk ones that have proven themselves for a long time and have a lot of positive feedback from car owners. So, a proven remedy for cleaning tar stains from a body is Sprite and Cola, of course this method is good only in the case of fresh dirt. To clean even a large area, you only need about 2 liters of the drink.
  • When it comes to stubborn stains, there are not many products that will help you quickly and effectively deal with such a problem. Among the most popular are the means for removing resin from the car body of the well-known brands Henkel Teroson and Dinitrol. These compounds are applied to a cooled surface and held until the resin dissolves. If necessary, this process can be repeated until the bitumen completely disappears.

Effective ways to remove tree resin from a car body

Before removing tree resin stains, thoroughly wipe the surface of the car with a cloth dipped in very hot soapy water, since under its influence the adhesive strength of the resin is significantly weakened.

When the surface has been washed and the amount of tar contamination can be clearly seen, the most suitable cleaning method can be selected.

Use of car chemicals

Wood tar thinner can be purchased at any specialized auto cosmetics store and gas stations. The composition of such products is designed taking into account the properties of tree resin. The drugs work quite effectively, while the surface of the car remains without damage. The method of application is simple and convenient, it is enough to moisten a rag in a large amount of the product and put it on the contaminated surface for 15-20 minutes until completely absorbed into the resin. Remove the resin from the surface with gentle circular motions. Complete the cleansing process by washing the car with shampoo.

Home Remedies

  1. You can try tar stains with alcohol wipes and mineral spirits. But when using these products, care must be taken, because when applied during rubbing, significant efforts can damage the varnish layer and paint of the car.

    Learn more