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How To Remove Tree Sap From A Car: The Complete Guide

Keep Your Car Blemish Free With These Five Easy Steps To Remove Tree Sap

how to remove tree sap from a car

Parking your beloved car under trees from time to time is unavoidable, and, with that, finding tree sap on your car is also unavoidable. But don’t worry — we’ve compiled these easy steps to help you remove tree sap from your car with ease. Though tree sap does not immediately damage car paint, if it’s not taken care of eventually, it could lead to discoloration.

5 Easy Steps To Remove Tree Sap From A Car

Of course, when removing tree sap, you want to do it as efficiently and easily as possible. So we compiled the best methods and the necessary products to use for tree sap removal that won’t damage your car. Our step-by-step method is sure to get that difficult tree sap off of your car in no time!

The Best Way to Remove Tree Sap From A Car

Step 1: Acquire Necessary Products


To remove tree sap, you’ll need products for both a regular car wash and for the tree sap removal process itself. While removing tree sap can be difficult, having the right products make all the difference.

For the pre-wash process and post-wash process, you will need:

  1. Car Wash Soap
  2. Water (Hose or Bucket)
  3. Microfiber Towels

For the tree sap removal process, you will need:

  1. Bug & Tar Remover OR an alcohol-based solution
  2. Detailing Spray / Car Wax
  3. Microfiber Towels

In terms of what alcohol-based solution to use, you have options! Some of which you may even already have on hand. You can use rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or WD-40. Above all, we recommend using Bugs N All Multi-Use Vehicle Cleaner to remove tree sap. This cleaner is specifically formulated to get all kinds of grime off the exterior of a car, including tree sap.

Step 2: Thoroughly Wash Area With Soap And Water

Using car soap, water, and a microfiber cloth, wash the area around the sap spots on your vehicle. This will prevent you from rubbing any dirt or debris onto your car during the sap removal process. Once you are done washing, fully dry the area using a clean microfiber towel.

It is always better to wash your car as soon as you notice the tree sap. Sometimes, the wash itself can remove the tree sap. But, more often than not, more intervention is needed.

Our guide on How to Wash Your Car provides a detailed step-by-step on how to wash your car. For this specific process, you only need to wash the part of your car where you will be removing the sap.

Step 3: Remove Tree Sap

tree sap on car

After the area is thoroughly washed and dried, you can begin the tree sap removal process. DO NOT use a razor blade or other object to scrape off the tree sap. If you choose to do so, do it at your own risk, as it can very likely cause damage to your car’s exterior.

Instead, use the Bug & Tar Remover or an alcohol-based solution to remove the tree sap. If you opt to use an alcohol-based solution, make sure to first test the solution on a small portion of your car to make sure it does not cause damage or discoloration. If after 30 seconds, you wipe off the solution and there is no damage, you are good to go.

First, apply the solution to a clean microfiber towel. Then, set the towel with the solution on top of the tree sap. Leave for about 30 to 60 seconds. After 30 to 60 seconds, gently rub the spot until all of the tree sap is gone.

In short, apply, set, and rub!

If there are still tree sap droplets on your car, you may repeat the process. Be aware, there may be some gooey residue leftover once you are finished. This is where Step 4 comes in!

Step 4: Wash Area With Soap And Water Again

Immediately after you have removed all of the tree sap, you MUST wash the area with car soap and water. Any lingering solutions that contain alcohol can cause damage or discoloration to your car’s paint or plastic over time.

Since you washed your car at the beginning, all of your supplies should be close by. Using car soap, water, and either a microfiber towel or a car mitt, rinse and clean the treated areas thoroughly. For extra measure, if you used an alcohol-based solution, repeat the washing process a few times.

After washing, dry the areas with a clean microfiber towel.

Step 5: Wax Your Car

We’ve reached the final step! Waxing your car will ensure added protection for the future. After all, removing tree sap may have required a bit of scrubbing, and preserving your car’s paint job is the biggest priority.

For this step, we recommend using Turtle Wax & Dry Spray Wax. It comes in a pack of two with a microfiber towel. Just spray the desired area, and wipe off using a clean microfiber towel. This spray not only provides additional protection but also removes any leftover smudges, giving your car that beautiful shine that you’ve always wanted.

Tree Sap on Windows

If the tree sap is on your window, you can follow all of these steps as directed. Then, instead of using the wax spray, use a glass cleaner instead.

Now, Your Car is Shining And Without Tree Sap!

Removing tree sap can be a frustrating process, but with a little bit of elbow grease and patience, your car will be looking as polished as ever.

How To Remove Tree Sap From a Car in 5 Easy Steps

  • 1: Aquire Necessary Products
  • 2: Thoroughly Wash Area With Soap And Water
  • 3: Remove Tree Sap
  • 4: Wash Area With Soap And Water Again
  • 5: Wax Your Car

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best tree sap remover for a car?

We recommend the Bugs N All Multi-Use Vehicle Cleaner for removing tree sap from the exterior of your car. Goo Gone also makes an Automotive Spray Gel that is suitable for removing tree sap.

Will these steps also work for bug reside and bird droppings?

Yes, they will! If washing your car does not get the bug residue or bird droppings off because they have hardened, you can easily use these same steps to remove them.

Can I use a razor blade to scrape tree sap off my car?

We do not recommend using a razor blade. While hardened tree sap can be difficult to remove, the use of a razor blade can damage your car’s paint job. Instead of using a razor blade, repeat Step 3 a few times. If after that, there is still tree sap left, you can lightly use your fingernail. Of course, any kind of scraping can lead to damage so use this only as an absolute last resort method.

How do I remove tree sap from my car window?

If the tree sap is on your window, follow all of the steps as listed. But, instead of using wax or detailing spray at the end, use glass cleaner. Make sure to use a microfiber towel to avoid streaking on the glass.

Why do I need to use detailing spray or car wax after I remove the tree sap?

The use of products such as rubbing alcohol or WD-40 can remove some of your vehicle’s wax, potentially exposing the car’s paint. So, using detailing spray or car wax after this process is important to maintain your car’s protective finish.

Joybeth Sullivan
About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.