How to Remove Tree Sap from Car (4 Simple Ways)

Jerry Wilson
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Why You Should Remove Tree Sap from Your Car

The tree sap you find on your car is not unique. It’s the same sap from pine trees that your friends try to avoid whenever they decorate their homes. It’s also your problem because, with the exception of yellow jackets (which actually use it for food), this sticky substance is undesirable just about anywhere you find it.

The most common places this type of sap ends up is on your car (after it gets washed without being rinsed off), on your garage door (when trees thank you for leaving a car in your garage with the windows down), and on a favorite pair of clothes (when you’re not paying attention to food and walk right through your dewy carwash).

So how can you make sure that your car is tree sap free and will stay sap free?

One of the most effective and easy ways to remove tree sap from your car and any other surface is to use common table salt. It may seem counterintuitive to use a highly abrasive substance to remove the sticky tree sap, but the sugar of the salt attacks the tree sap’s structure from the outside and is an excellent solvent.

How to Remove Tree Sap from Car

Tree sap is sticky and hard to remove. It takes plenty of alcohol and elbow grease to get this sap off. In this article we show you some different methods for removing tree sap from your vehicle. We’ve also included some helpful tips, though keep in mind that if your car has recently been hit by tree sap, you’re better off taking it to a detailer.

To avoid getting tree sap on your car in the first place, keep an eye out for slippery areas on the road and slow down when you spot them. If you are in any doubt about a patch of tree sap on the road, err on the side of caution and slow or stop altogether. Driving fast over the top of a patch of tree sap will only make your car stickier.

Once you’ve collected your tree sap, there are a few ways to remove it. The three easiest are freezing, scraping, and elbow grease. If the sap is freshly applied, freezing it is usually the smoothest way to get it off.

Hand Wash with Hot Water

This is the best way to get rid of tree sap especially if it is still watery. Get a couple of large trashcans filled with hot water and a gallon of liquid dish soap. Place the car into the garage so it can be sprayed with the hot water. Leave the car there until the sap has melted off and has become watery. With a sponge and the dish soap mixture, wash the spots on the car where the sap still remains. After rinsing the water off, dry the car immediately so the sap does not leave a film.

Alcohol or Mineral Spirits

The use of isopropyl rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits is the best way to remove tree sap. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to clean the glass.

Make sure to keep rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits off the paint. Although it will not harm the paint, it could leave a sticky residue.

Rubbing alcohol is gentler on paint, and less likely to leave any sticky residue. However, it doesn’t clean the glass as well as mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits are the preferred solvent for removing sap from painted surfaces. It is also effective at removing glue and paint from glass.

Mineral spirits also evaporate much faster than isopropyl rubbing alcohol, so it is ideal for cleaning the glass quickly.

The downside of mineral spirits is that it has a pungent smell that may annoy you. Also, some formulations are highly flammable, and you should avoid using them near an open flame.

Never use gasoline to remove sap from a vehicle. If you do, the sap will continue to create a sticky residue that only a professional will be able to remove.

Razor Blade or Small Knife

This is the most basic way to remove tree sap from car, and, in some cases, it just might be the best tool for the job. It’s good for use on smaller spots, but it takes some careful cleaning to get the required area like the surface of a windshield clear of the substance.

The first step in this process is scraping as much of the sap off the surface as you can. Next, use the razor blade to get the remaining sticky substance. Wash the area with mild soap and water to remove residue. If you’re using a knife, wash the blade with soap and water after you’re finished cutting the sap from car.

Baking Soda

An easy way to remove tree sap from your car with hardly any elbow grease at all.

To use this method, all you need to do is dissolve baking soda in water and then pour it over the car where the sap is.

Then, wash the mixture off with water.

Baking soda dissolves the sap and it should come off, even if it’s dry.

If the sap is fresh it should come off. If it’s old it may still be on there pretty strong so you may have to reapply a little bit of the baking soda and water mixture and scrub some more.

Make sure that you are careful of where you apply baking soda however.

It is very likely that it will dry on your paint and you’ll have some spots that you’ll have to deal with.

Tips for Protecting Car from Tree Sap

Tree sap is sticky, messy, and hard to remove; that is, if you know how to get tree sap off of car.

For those of you who’ve never experienced it, you are truly lucky, especially if you own a black car. The process for getting tree sap off your car is not for novices.

The first rule of thumb for avoiding this sticky mess is to park in the sun. If you park under a tree and the sap comes down, it will drip and run right off your car’s shiny surface.

If you do park under a tree and get stuck with tree sap on your car, here’s how to get rid of tree sap on car surfaces:


Get a stack of towels and some boiling hot water; put the towels over the tree sap and then pour the boiling water over it. This works best if you are able to stall the car right where the tree sap will hit it.


Use a car shampoo for help with the tree sap. It will work much better than dishwashing soap. Put some on a towel and let it soak into the tree sap. Then just wipe it off like you would any other stain on your car.



If you’re looking for something to make your car special, tree sap is not the solution. Tree sap can damage your paint job. When it dries up, it leaves sticky and stubborn deposits that affect your paint quality.

Each year at this time, how to remove tree sap from your car becomes a hot issue for many car owners.

Whichever product or method you choose, your goal should be to prevent this sticky substance from acting against your car.

Take the necessary precautions, let your sons help you, and solve how to remove tree sap from car before it’s too late.