How to Remove Tree Sap From Car Without Damaging Paint?

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how to remove tree sap from car without damaging paint

Tree sap can create more serious problems than its looks. Hence, knowing how to remove tree sap from car without damaging paint is an optimal solution. It helps you to save budget and car. When the tree sap is fresh, it is easy to remove.

However, the dried tree sap can ruin your day. The car paintwork will be scratched if you don’t get tree sap off car properly. Even if the sap is eliminated, it may leave stains on the car.

You will feel annoyed when you see them, especially on your brand-new car. This article will erase your concerns.

Ways to Remove Tree Sap From Car Without Damaging Paint

What To Prepare

Here are things for cleaning tree sap on the car. They are chemical products and homemade remedies.

  • Warm water and hot water
  • Microfiber towels
  • Soap
  • Sponges
  • Car wax
  • Bacon grease
  • Elbow grease
  • Razor blade
  • Paper towels/ cling wrap
  • White vinegar
  • Non-abrasive brush

Cleaners to choose from

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubbing alcohol/mineral spirits
  • WD40
  • Commercial tree sap remover
  • Vegetable oil
  • Baking soda
  • Acetone nail polish and baking soda

There are 4 steps to remove sap from car with many methods. You can try them until the stains fade.

Step 1: Hand-Wash Car


You should wash the car manually instead of using automatic washing. You will use warm water, soap, and a sponge to wipe off dirt and debris from car paint.

They can scratch car paint while washing if you don’t rinse dust and dirt well. This step may help you remove pine sap from car.

This step should be done as soon as possible when the tree sap is still sticky and not yet hardened. Applying car-formulated soap is more effective and less harmful to your car.

Other tree sap can also be cleaned yet the car is impossibly spotless through this process. Washing helps you have better visibility for further steps.

Don’t try to take off tree sap from car at all costs with steel wool or razor blades. They can cause scratches on the car. Instead, microfiber cloth or terry is a suitable choice.

Step 2: Soak Tree Sap

There are numerous ways to soak tree sap. You can try them to check if it is workable for your case. Determine the stains and be ready to fight with them.

Option 1: Hand Sanitizer


Hand sanitizers usually include alcohol. This substance works on sap spots well. However, it also brings potential risks for your car wax or protectants.

  1. After you wash and clean properly, pour 2 drops of hand sanitizer onto tree sap areas
  2. Let it work on sap for 3o seconds
  3. Wipe off the sanitizer with a soft towel. Don’t apply hard pressure to avoid damaging your car’s paintwork. Medium pressure is enough to get rid of sap.
  4. Repeat the process until all stains fade

Option 2: Mineral Spirits Or Rubbing Alcohol


You should use mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol with more caution. The solution can ruin your car paint if you leave it sitting for more than 3o seconds.

  1. Pour a little of 91% rubbing alcohol onto a microfiber towel. The 70% isopropyl alcohol is diluted and not strong enough to lift off tree sap.
  2. Cover the sap areas with a soaked cloth. The proper time is half a minute. If longer, it can strip away the paintwork
  3. Gently scrub the sap with the cloth in circular motions until the sap saturates and disappears.
  4. If the stains are still visible, you can repeat the process.
  5. However, the high-rate alcohol is bad for the car’s look. You can add elbow grease to the towel to increase effectiveness. It is less dangerous to your vehicle.
  6. Clean the leftover sap with a versatile-purpose brush or fingernail. The former option is more optimal.

Option 3: WD40


WD40 is an oil-based product. You can clean tree sap off a car with it.

  1. Shake WD40 well, spray it onto tree sap
  2. To have a better result, you can dip a cloth into hot water. Cover the sap with it. This step is optional.
  3. Otherwise, you can shield the sprayed sap with a paper towel or cling wrap. Let it work for 5 minutes
  4. Use a damp cloth to wipe off tree sap on car and WD40. If the stains aren’t gone, repeat until there is no sap left.

Option 4: Commercial Tree Sap Remover

Applying tree sap remover is a quick and safe way to clean sap and protect your car from scratches. You can use a kind of liquid cream wax.

  1. Remember to shake the remover thoroughly. Squeeze 2 drops of Butter Wet Wax on a clean microfiber towel
  2. Apply the towel to the tree sap. Give the remover a few minutes to melt and break down the sap. The butter texture can lubricate the cloth to avoid grinding it onto car paint.
  3. Scrub back and forth tree sap. You can see a spick and span result immediately. It can also make your car glossier.

Option 5: Vegetable Oil


You can use vegetable oil or margarine to clean tree sap off a car. This way is less successful than the above ones. Yet, it is safe for car paint.

  1. Pour a little oil or margarine on the affected zone
  2. Wait for several minutes. This period allows it to penetrate and break down tree sap.
  3. Rub sap with back and forth or up and down instead of circular motions. It can create visible patterns on the car.
  4. Adding wooden ice cream stickers can support the cleaning process. Repeat the steps until the sap is gone.

Option 6: Baking Soda

Baking soda is a multi-purpose powder. It can remove tree sap from car paint successfully.

  1. Combine baking soda and warm water to have a thick paste
  2. Spread the paste on tree sap entirely. Be cautious to avoid scratching the paintwork.
  3. Wait for a while. Prepare hot water and pour it on the affected zones.
  4. Damp a clean cloth to eliminate the stains and leftover baking soda

Option 7: Acetone Nail Polish And Baking Soda


These materials will help you remove pine sap from car, especially sticky pine sap. But, be careful when using acetone nail polish if you don’t want your car paint to fade.

  1. Prepare a paste of baking soda and hot water with a 1:3 ratio in advance
  2. You can dab a cloth with nail polish and a little elbow grease. It’s advisable to clean pine sap when it’s still wet.
  3. Scrub pine sap in circular patterns to get pine sap off your car.
  4. When the stains are removed perfectly, apply the paste to the cleaned sap areas. Then use a damp cloth to clean the paste.

Option 8: Steam Or Hot Water

After tree sap falls down your car, it will be drier over time. It’s quite tricky to remove hardened tree sap but hot water and steam will help you.

  1. Hot water or steam will help you soften the hardened sap. Combine hot water and alcohol. Then dip a cloth into this mixture
  2. Rub sap gently until getting the desired result.
  3. Plus, you can use bacon grease, lighter liquid, or WD40 to clean tree sap. Remember to leave them to work for a while.
  4. When the sap starts vanishing, wipe it off with a clean and soft towel.

Step 3: Clean Tree Sap From Car Windshield

Tree sap can sit on the car paint, car windshield, and window as well. With familiar materials, you can clean the car quickly.

Rubbing Alcohol

You should always stock isopropyl alcohol at home. It is a various-purpose item.

  1. Pour alcohol onto a towel
  2. Apply it to tree sap and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Ensure the areas are soaked with alcohol entirely.
  3. Swab these spots with the cloth and clean the residue with another clean rag.



Vinegar remove tree sap from car windshields and windows effectively.

  1. Spray the vinegar onto the tree sap. Make sure vinegar immerses spots completely.
  2. Allow it to work for 5-19 minutes.
  3. Clean the areas well with a microfiber cloth.

Razor Blade

Apply the 2 previous methods but if the sap is still visible, you can use a razor blade. It is the last resort you can try.

  1. Cover the tree sap with a damp cloth for around 30 seconds.
  2. Rub the spot gently to remove the sap completely. Repeat the process if necessary.
  3. In case the sap is tough to eliminate, use a razor blade to scrape it. Be cautious to avoid hurting yourself and scratching the windshield.

Step 4: Rinse And Wax Your Car


When tree sap is removed completely, you should rinse your car again. Ensure residue and sap are cleaned.

Don’t forget to apply car wax to the paintwork. It creates a protective layer for your car. Applying an additional layer of sealant is also a good idea to reinforce the paint.


How long does it take for tree sap to damage car paint?

Tree sap cannot threaten your car paint immediately. Hence you should clean sap when it’s fresh. However, if you leave sap on the car for several days, you can remove it simply in the proper ways.

The case will be more serious when the sap becomes hardened and corrodes the paint. Even if you can remove the sap, the stains will still be on your car permanently. You have to repaint the car. The larger areas are affected, the more cost you have to pay.

Does car insurance cover sap damage?

Car insurance covers unforeseeable situations. Sap damage is a foreseeable case, so it isn’t included in car insurance. If you park your car under trees for a long time, the tree sap staying on your car paint is a foreseeable situation. You can prevent it easily.

You can buy a car cover, maintain the car wax frequently and avoid parking your car under trees to minimize the risks of tree sap issues.


How to remove tree sap from car without damaging paint isn’t difficult anymore. You can apply the methods with harsh levels gradually. Always re-wash your car to ensure no leftover substances can damage the paint.

However, to maintain your car’s look, you should prevent the sap from falling down your car. Never place the car under the maple, walnut, and birch trees. They produce sugary sap, which contains a phloem substance with a sticky texture. It is an enemy of car paint.

5/5 - (2 votes)

Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

You May be Interested

how to clean a car engine bay
Sam Howard

How to Clean a Car Engine Bay? – 8 Steps to Do

Your car engine bay is where almost all the action happens to get your car ...

how to clean a car carburetor
Sam Howard

How to Clean a Car Carburetor? – The Easiest Way

Your car carburetor plays a vital role in the performance of your automobile. It does ...

how to clean off bird poop from car
Sam Howard

How to Clean Off Bird Poop From Car? – 8 Effective Methods

Birds pooping on cars is a universal problem for all drivers around the globe. Men ...

how to clean out a car radiator
Sam Howard

How to Clean Out a Car Radiator? – A Detailed Guide

  Car radiators possess the solution to regulating your car engine’s temperature. Together with its ...

how to clean up battery acid spills
Sam Howard

How to Clean Up Battery Acid Spills? – 3 Simple Methods

Battery acid spills are a big concern, as they can pose many threats to your ...

how to clean a flooded car carpet
Sam Howard

How to Clean a Flooded Car Carpet in 8 Easy Steps

A flooded car interior is a big problem for all car owners. It may cause ...