You love your car. You treat it like it’s part of your 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. 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.
The tree sap remover we recommend the most has got to be the Goo Gone Automotive Spray Gel. Goo Gone is a legendary name in gunk and grime remover, and this proprietary blend is specifically designed for use on automobiles. It’s safe to use on metal, plastic, and glass. So, it’s ideal for bumpers, windshields, and floor mats, too. And it works as well as you’d expect Goo Gone to, removing sticky residue from tree sap as well as bird droppings, brake dust, tar, and spray paint. It cuts right through grease and tar. And it’s fantastic for taking off old bumper stickers from your car, boat, motorcycle, UTV, snowmobile, PWC, and any other vehicle. From gum to grease, fabric to fiberglass, Goo Gone removes almost any problem from most any surface and restores your paint to its original, pristine shine. And, it’s more affordable than a lot of the big brand-name products.
- Removes tree sap
- Interior and exterior use
- Removes other grime
- Brand Goo Gone
- Model 2058
- Weight 1.4 lbs
Good for all types of vehicles
Usable on multiple surfaces
Some trouble on long-term sap
May leave residue
When it comes to removing embedded particulate grime and debris that regular washing and polishing can’t break down, Mother’s Clay Bar System removes tree sap, paint overspray, environmental deposits, and granular debris. That’s why clay bars are favorites among detailers, body men, and car aficionados, and that’s why Mother’s Clay Bars are perfect for getting rid of paint-fouling embedded grime and pave the way toward complete detailing and waxing. They’ll add depth and clarity to any paint job. Clay bars aren’t hazardous to your paint. It’s just firm enough to pick up the bad stuff but gentle enough to leave the finish. Think of it as the bar of soap rather than a soothing body wash. It’s ideal for touch-ups between washings; and you can use it on all types of paint, including clearcoat.
- Large scale and detail work
- Comes with a cleaning kit
- Good for all types of paint
- Brand Mothers California Gold
- Model 07240
- Weight 1.9 lbs
Used by professionals
Good for embedded grime
Easy to use
More expensive than competitors
The MicroActive cleaning technology in the Stoner Car Care’s Tarminator Bug, Tar, Sap, and Grease Remover expels even baked-on sap, grease, sap, bugs, and asphalt tar. It removes road grime and is safe to use on paint and clear coats. But it’s awesome for removing sticky residue and goopy debris from chrome without dulling or damaging the finish. Tarminator works fast by penetrating deep, breaking down sap and grease in a matter of seconds. Some users claim it takes a few applications to completely remove the sap on their vehicles, but most are completely satisfied with the results. Even owners of black cars, boats, and RVs toute its effectiveness. Stoner Car Care products have been formulated, manufactured, and distributed in the USA for more than 75 years.
- Doesn’t dull chrome
- Safe for clearcoats
- Spray-on application
- Brand Stoner Car Care
- Model Tarminator 91156
- Weight 10 ounces
Protects unique surfaces
Doesn’t work on all car grime
Doesn’t work across a variety of surfaces
If you’re one of those who likes to see cleaning products “working,” check out the scrubbing bubbles on Turtle Wax Power Foam Bug & Tar Remover. It’s a fast, efficient way to clean sap, tar, and bugs off of paint, chrome, windshields, and especially grills. The powerful foam dissolves debris quickly and efficiently. And the unique spray pattern can be used to spot-clean, or quickly cover large areas. Just spray it on, wait a couple of minutes, then wipe it off. Like many of these types of products, you may need a couple of applications to completely remove the gunk. But if you live in a particular buggy region, this is the stuff to clean your car of tree sap and other types of sticky grime.
- Foams while cleaning
- Usable across surfaces
- Small to large areas
- Brand Turtle Wax
- Model 50595
- Weight 1.3 lbs
Versatile across surfaces
Can take multiple times
Requires a lot of scrubbing
Waxing your car, truck, boat, motorcycle, or RV is a time-consuming job; preserve all your hard work with the Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover. It’s specially formulated to effectively remove these types pf sticky, gunky debris while maintaining the wax protection on your vehicle. The biggest problem with many spot cleaners is that, once you’re done, you have to wax all over again. This stuff won’t remove your wax job. It can even be used as a pre-treatment before you wash our vehicle. It’s streak-free, so you can use it on windshields, too. And here’s a super helpful tip: Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover is notoriously hard to find in stores. Order it here, and have it delivered to your door in days.
- Spray bottle
- Formulated to protect wax
- Removes bugs, tar, and sap
- Brand Armor All
- Model 18498, All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover
- Weight 13.6 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.