Tree sap is a point of worry for most vehicle owners during the summer. Though sap doesn’t immediately damage the paint job, it shouldn’t be ignored. Sap that is allowed to sit all season and adhere itself to the car will ruin the paint job in the long run – but in the short run, it looks unattractive and will cause more dust and dirt to stick to the car. Plus, if it is stuck to the windshield or mirrors it may cause visibility issues as you drive.
Sap comes from a number of different kinds of trees including pine, palm, pecan, and sycamore trees, making this a problem around the country. If you use harsh substances to try and remove the sap, it may also damage your car. Here are a few ways you can go about removing tree sap without the frustration of possible damage.
Baking Soda as a Cleaning Agent
If the sap is fresh and you act quick, a solution of baking soda and warm water can be applied to the sap-covered spots. Allow this solution to sit for a few minutes, then use a towel to wash it away. Baking soda is excellent for breaking apart oily and sticky substances without damaging the car’s exterior. However, this may not work if the sap is old or has been stuck to the car for some time.
Rubbing Alcohol or Hand Sanitizer
Another trusted method for removing sap is alcohol. You can choose a rubbing alcohol you have at home, or a hand sanitizer that has a large percentage of alcohol. Similar to the baking soda method, you want to apply the alcohol to the sticky spots and let it sit for a minute before using a towel to rub it away. Alcohol disturbs the sap molecules and makes it easier to wash away large concentrations. However, you may find that you need to buff and wash the car afterwards to get rid of the dull-looking spots left over.
Margarine, Oil, Baking Grease
Oils are fantastic for cleaning up just about any mess, as oily substances overpower and dissolve stickiness and dirt. Of course, you should take care when applying oil or grease as the oil is difficult to remove from your car. Use small amounts and have a bucket with water and washcloth handy to wash it right away. You can use just about any oil-based substance, or oil-based cleaner. Vegetable oil or cooking grease are two things you can normally find in your kitchen, but you can get a more potent substance like turpentine or lighter fluid at the store.
Commercial Cleaning Products
You can buy over-the-counter products specifically for cleaning cars. These will not damage the vehicle’s surface but don’t always work on tough spots.
Remember that you may have to use your nails or a gentle tool to remove what’s left of the sap, even after using these methods. If you have a wax coat on your car or find that the cleaning product removed most of it but has spread a small amount over the car, leaving it looking dull, you may have to buff it out and apply wax.
Professional Car Washes Have the Highest Success Rate for Removing Sap
If you’re a DIY kind of car person, we understand. A lot of people chose to treat their vehicles themselves. However, DIY methods may not be the most effective for removing a difficult substance like tree sap. The best thing to do is to take your car to the pros. At Flagstop Car Wash, all of our locations have the cleaning products necessary to remove even the most stubborn dirt.