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You love your car. You treat it like one of the family. That’s why there’s nothing so maddening as when tree sap falls on it. Bird droppings, splatters — most things wash right off and leave no trace. But tree sap is lethal; it doesn’t simply wash off. It takes scrubbing and real cleanser designed for greasy, sticky residue. But if you don’t get it off right away, you can end up with permanent paint damage. And that’s not a good look for your baby. So what’s the best way to remove tree sap from your paint job? You need a special solvent designed to remove tree sap. There are many on the market, and they’re made by some of the most renowned names in auto care and detailing. There are plenty of off-brands that make tree sap remover, too. And some solvents and cleaners intended for other applications actually work great in removing tree sap from your paint before it becomes a permanent stain. But which tree sap remover is the best? Some definitely work better than others. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites below.
Best Overall Sap Remover
Removes tree sap
Interior and exterior use
Removes other grime
- BrandGoo Gone
- Weight1.4 lbs
Good for all types of vehicles
Usable on multiple surfaces
Some trouble on long-term sap
May leave residue
Best Clay Bar Sap Remover
Large scale and detail work
Comes with a cleaning kit
Good for all types of paint
- BrandMothers California Gold
- Weight1.9 lbs
Used by professionals
Good for embedded grime
Easy to use
More expensive than competitors
Best Sap Remover for Chrome
Doesn’t dull chrome
Safe for clearcoats
- BrandStoner Car Care
- ModelTarminator 91156
- Weight10 ounces
Protects unique surfaces
Doesn’t work on all car grime
Doesn’t work across a variety of surfaces
Best Foaming Sap Remover
Foams while cleaning
Usable across surfaces
Small to large areas
- BrandTurtle Wax
- Weight1.3 lbs
Versatile across surfaces
Can take multiple times
Requires a lot of scrubbing
Best for Wax Protection
Formulated to protect wax
Removes bugs, tar, and sap
- BrandArmor All
- Model18498, All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover
- Weight13.6 ounces
Won’t remove wax
Easy to use
Requires a lot of scrubbing
Best Tree Sap Remover Buying Guide & FAQs
Tree sap is notoriously hard to remove from cars. The longer it is there, the more chance of it destroying your paint. Sap presents a different challenge than bug splatter, tar, and just regular dirt and debris. As such, it requires a different solution.
There are multiple types of products out there at a variety of prices. Some can be used across different vehicles and surfaces, while others are extremely specific. Things to consider are if you have chrome that needs protection, if you wax the car often, and if you have other vehicles like snowmobiles that also need care. FInding the right product for your needs is extremely important.
Benefits of a Tree Sap Remover
A normal car wash will not cut it for tree sap. This highly sticky substance can easily ruin your car’s paint and become permanent decor if not handled properly. The benefit to finding a special tree sap remover is that it’s specifically created with this challenge in mind. It will also protect your car’s paint and wax from damage that can occur while cleaning.
You don’t want to leave soap scum, scratches, or chrome tarnishes behind after cleaning against tree sap. Therefore, identifying the right product for this type of cleaning will protect the investment that is your car.
- It will not damage clearcoats, wax, chrome, or any type of car paint.
- It can be versatile across vehicle surfaces and used on the interior and exterior.
- Quick-clean products save time and the effort of long-term scrubbing.
- It will tackle embedded tree sap that has been left for long periods.
- Certain products protect the car against sap in the future.
How to Remove Tree Sap From a Car
Depending on the product you choose, there are a variety of ways to remove tree sap from your car. Other cleaning products, like standard car cleaning kits or a car wash, will not cut it and could actually ruin your car’s paint. Other options, like alcohol or vinegar, could end up removing your car’s wax and leaving scars behind. Standard soap and a bucket of water are not hardy enough to cut in deep to tree sap, no matter how much scrubbing you put into it.
There are many spray bottle tree sap removers for your car. You will need a simple hand towel to wipe the cleaner off afterward, as well as a bucket of water or a hose to complete the process. There are also some cleaners that come in a bar format that work the same as soap. Using standard, circular wiping motions for all of these products works well. All that is needed is to either spray or scrub the cleaning product on. Wait the allotted amount of time per the product’s directions, and then wipe it off. This can be anywhere from less than a minute to a couple of hours.
Some products require more elbow grease than others. Depending on the time you want to spend cleaning your car, consider the way the product is used. Certain products come with entire kits to be used in removing tree sap, leaving out any guesswork of what to use.
The Best Brands of Tree Sap Removers
There are a handful of different products to remove tree sap. There is a range in price, although the range is not drastic. They also range in how versatile they are, how long it takes to complete the cleaning process, and what surface they can be used on. There are also specific varieties to protect wax or chrome, if needed.
- Goo Gone Automotive Spray Gel
This gel is a great overall cleaner to remove tree sap, bumper stickers, bug splatter, tar, and all other dirt and grime. With a mid-range price, what makes it stand out is its ability to be used on a variety of surfaces and vehicles. It can be used on the exterior and interior of your car. It can also be used on metal, plastic, and glass.
However, it has some difficulty removing sap that has been on there an extended amount of time. This will require extra scrubbing to get it all off, and it may leave a small amount of residue behind.
- Turtle Wax Power Foam Bug & Tar Remover
This spray bottle is excellent for both small, detail work and large-scale tree sap cleanings. You can use it across different surfaces and even on items like grills. It doesn’t require much—just the spray bottle itself and a small towel to wipe the foam off. It is extremely affordable compared to other products while still offering a solid clean.
However, it may take several cleanings to get the tree sap or other grime completely removed. It also requires some labor from you, kneeling and scrubbing to remove the tree sap on your car. But, for the affordability and dynamic aspect of this product, it is worth the time spent removing the tree sap.
- Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System
This product is preferred by the professionals for car cleaning and maintenance. It is extremely effective for deeply embedded tree sap and other stains and damage. It can be used for a full cleaning and small detail work. You can also keep your car looking its best by using this product at regular intervals, regardless of what needs cleaned on it.
However, it is more expensive than other products. It also requires a commitment from you. This kit comes with multiple products to do a full cleaning, and this can take up to a couple hours to complete the job. However, it is excellent for keeping your car in top shape.
The Most Important Features with Tree Sap Remover
Your car’s needs are individual, so keep in mind what specific challenge you are tackling when purchasing a product. Also keep in mind how much you are willing to spend, and how much time you want to set aside to clean your car. It’s also worth considering how long the tree sap has been on your car, and how extensive it is.
If you have multiple types of vehicles you need to clean, look for a product that meets those needs. There may be tree sap on the exterior of your jet ski, or tree sap on both the paint and the windshield of the car. Instead of using various products and cleaning methods to get the job done, look for a product that meets all of these needs in one.
Unless you have a very specific need, try to avoid products that focus on one aspect of the car. However, if you have a lot of chrome that is easily tarnished, or you often wax your car and don’t want a sap cleaning to ruin it, you may need to look for a more specific solution and spend the extra money.
- Time Required
If you are looking for a simple fix, your best bet is a spray bottle cleaner. These are extremely quick, allowing you to finish the cleaning within minutes. The only thing needed from you is a hand towel and some water to finish the job.
If you are willing to put the extra time and effort in, look for a more deep-cleaning product. It may require extra steps, but it will provide the deep clean and best look for your money.
Best Tree Sap Remover FAQs
There are multiple issues to consider when purchasing a tree sap remover aside from versatility and the time required. Here is a breakdown of some common questions and challenges that may arise when you are considering what to purchase, as well as certain things to avoid when buying a remover.
How do you get sap off a window screen?
A: Products such as Goo Gone Automotive Spray Gel are safe for window screens. Double-check the specifications on the product you purchase to ensure its use across surfaces.
How do you remove tree sap from a car without damaging the paint?
A: Tree sap removers are specifically designed to not damage your paint. That being said, be careful on how much elbow grease you put into cleaning it. It’s better to take it slow and repeat as needed.
How can I remove rosin/sap from a composite deck?
A: Look for products with cross-surface versatility. They will be able to properly clean off your composite deck from tree sap while also being used on other surfaces and items you own.
Does WD-40 remove tree sap?
A: WD-40 will help to loosen fresh sap so you can scrub it off. However, it is not specifically formulated for sap, so it’s not as effective as other products and could damage your paint.
Does vinegar remove sap?
A: Vinegar could ruin your paint, so it is not recommended. It is only mildly effective for small patches of fresh tree sap.
Our Top Pick
Goo Gone Automotive Gel is our top pick for safe and easy tree sap removal. Its ability to work across different surfaces makes it handy for any job you have to do. It’s affordable without sacrificing quality. It is simple and easy to use, and it is consistently recognized for its dependability.
For most of your needs, Goo Gone Automotive Gel is your best bet. Turtle Wax Power Foam is best for affordability and also offers flexibility in terms of surfaces. Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System is excellent but is specific to car exteriors and is pricier than the others.