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How to Clean Tree Sap Off Your Car


Whether you park your car outside for a few hours to do some shopping or all night, every night, it may be necessary to park under the branches of a large tree. Tree sap is prone to oozing off the branches and bark, dripping down and onto your car. Not only is the tree sap unsightly, but it contains acids that could damage your car’s clear coat and paint job. Properly cleaning the tree sap off your car protects it from cosmetic and body damage.

When to Remove the Sap

It is important to remove tree sap from your car’s finish as soon as possible. When the sap hardens, it is more difficult to remove. Hardened sap also turns black, making it more noticeable. To remove the sap, gather a microfiber cloth or a large clean sponge, car soap, a bucket of hot water and a garden hose with a spray nozzle or a pressure washer. If you notice tree sap while traveling or you don’t have time to do your own car wash, contact MobileWash. We bring the car wash to you and get the tree sap off quickly.

Sap Removal Steps

  • Begin by doing a full rinse of your entire car with hot water.
  • Use the microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub the areas on your car where the tree sap is stuck.
  • Dip the sponge or cloth into the bucket of hot, soapy water. The hotter the water, the better. Hotter water does a better job of breaking down and dissolving the viscous sap.
  • Scrub gently on the areas where the sap has fallen.
  • Rinse the entire car with warm water.
  • Check the area where the sap fell onto the car. If there is still sap there, repeat the scrubbing and rinsing steps on that area.
  • Once the sap is gone, wax your car.

Below is a video with some additional tips and tricks to properly remove tree sap from any vehicle. This video is courteous of The Proctor Dealerships, a successful YouTube channel, of a company devoted to informing various users on quality car upkeep and industry-standard maintenance.

Removing Hardened Sap

When tree sap has had time to harden, removing it with soap and water could be challenging. You may need a stronger commercial product for auto body care in order to get the sap off. Most auto parts stores sell these products, which are designed to get a variety of contaminants off your car’s clear coat and windshield. Apply the commercial car cleaner and contaminant remover to the areas where the sap has hardened. Let the cleaner soak in for 30 to 60 seconds. Scrub and rinse as directed on the product’s packaging. For solidified sap, a lubricant such as WD-40 may make it easier to loosen the contaminant. Scrub the sappy area in a circular motion, taking care not to spread the sap around the surface of your vehicle. Rinse and wax your car.

Preventing Tree Sap Damage

Keeping your car waxed is a good way to prevent tree sap damage. The wax is hydrophobic, and it prevents the sap from making contact with your car’s clear coat and paint. Consider covering your car with a tarp when parking under trees for extended periods of time. This methodology is a great resource for how to clean tree sap off your car, and will certainly become common practice.