How to Remove Tree Sap from Your Car\’s Exterior


With spring coming to an end and summer starting, tree sap is more likely to start collecting on your car’s exterior. This sap doesn’t look good on your car, and it can actually cause damage to the paint if left untreated. The best way to keep tree sap from scratching, marking or staining your paint is to dissolve it with a solvent before gently wiping it off. Here’s a guide to cleaning tree sap off your car’s exterior without damaging your paint.

Common Solvents for Tree Sap

The most common solvents used for tree sap are ones with acetone, alcohol, or some form of weak acid. Rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, mineral spirits, lighter fluid, WD-40, or even oil-based liquids like Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil have all been used to remove tree sap. Before using any of these on your car, do a test patch on a more hidden part of the exterior, like the inside of your door, to make sure it won’t hurt your paint.

Gently Removing Tree Sap

Since tree sap can easily scratch your paint, you should be as gentle as possible while removing it. Start by gently rubbing the solvent into the sap with your hands to soften and dissolve it. If the sap has been on your car for a while, you can attempt to remove it with a buffer on the lightest setting. Otherwise, you can wash your car normally to remove the sap and the solvent. Try not to scrub too hard when washing your car, and repeat the process a few days later if some of the sap persists even after washing. Use a soft sponge or washcloth so it isn’t too abrasive, or take it to a drive-thru car wash.

Avoiding Damage to Your Car’s Paint

Solvents can damage your paint if they’re left on too long, so wash the solvent off quickly after the tree sap is dissolved. Try not to use too much pressure when applying the solvent or washing it off, and always patch test chemicals before using them on your car’s exterior. 

Once you’ve washed the sap and solvent from your car, have a new coat of wax applied. Not only will it protect your paint from sap in the future, but it’ll also replace any wax that might have been removed by the solvent. 

DC Clear Auto Bra: Mechanics You can Trust

If you want to give your paint an added layer of protection against tree sap, debris, and general wear-and-tear, get an auto bra from DC Clear Auto Bra! We’ve been serving Washington DC since 1958, and our mechanics always value client satisfaction and quality service. We also offer window tint, interior protection, and Xpel Window Film, all at reasonable prices. Take the next step to keep your car’s paint looking new when you add a clear auto bra to the most high-contact areas, like your bumpers and doors. Call or visit our website to get in touch with an experienced, trusted mechanic today!