If you park under trees chances are that more than once you’ve found yourself driving around with sticky dark blotches on your paintwork. Sap, as far as cars are concerned, is an unpleasant deposit produced by trees that hardens into a crusted mess wherever it lands. It can damage paintwork and, if left long enough, cause changes in paint pigment. If you’re a victim of tree-strike you need to know how to remove tree sap from your car.

Not So Difficult

Although hardened tree sap looks like it might be impossible to remove without taking a layer of paint with it, there are actually several ways to treat it that are reasonably easy and won’t damage your paintwork. Check out the different ways to remove tree sap from paintwork below.

Nail Polish Remover

An ingredient generally available in any household where women reside, nail polish remover is just as effective at getting rid of tree sap as it is at rubbing away those coats of Coral Delight and Vermilion Sunset.

Pour a good amount of nail polish remover onto a clean, soft cotton cloth. Press the wet cloth against the spot of tree sap and hold it there for a minute or two to allow the chemical to penetrate. Once the sap is thoroughly wet with the nail polish remover, rub it gently in a circular motion with the cloth. The sap should break up and come away from your car’s paintwork quite easily.

After this treatment the residual nail polish remover should be immediately cleaned away. This can be done effectively with a mixture of one cup of baking soda and three cups of hot water. Gently wipe the area with this solution and then rinse with clean water.

Mineral Spirits

Soak a soft rag in mineral spirits and rub the tree sap. Use a gentle pressure to avoid scratching your paintwork with the hard bits of sap that break away. Once you have rubbed the sap thoroughly with mineral spirits, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. This will remove any remaining tree sap and some of the mineral spirits. Remove the rest of the mineral spirits by washing your car with soap and water.


Spray the tree sap with WD-40 and allow it to sit for five minutes, then take a cloth and simply wipe the tree sap away. Like most tree sap removal methods, WD-40 may remove any waxing product you have previously applied to your car. To restore car’s paintwork to its full lustre after sap treatment you should wash the area and reapply a coat of wax.

Other Methods

Other substances that can be used to remove tree sap from your car include denatured alcohol (use as you would mineral spirits), water-soluble brush cleaner liquid, and even bacon grease or lard.

Stubborn Sap

If the sap on your car is particularly stubborn or has been there a long time, you can increase the effectiveness of solutions like nail polish remover, mineral spirits and WD-40 by first abrading the upper layer of the sap’s crust with a mild buffing compound.

Sap Be Gone

With the simple methods outlined above you should have no trouble removing tree sap from your car. A quick wash and wax afterwards will restore your car to it’s former unblemished beauty.

To learn more about removing tree sap check out this video.

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