How To Remove Tree Sap From Car - Tips, Tricks & Products You Can Use

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Below I've collected several tips for how to remove tree sap from car exteriors.

Tree sap, whether it be pine or another variety, can easily drop onto cars while parked on the street or the driveway under a canopy of trees.

Once that sap gets hot, in the sun, it basically bakes on and can be very difficult to remove.

Lots of tips and tricks, plus product recommendations and DIY remedies to remove tree sap from your car exterior {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
There are many ways to remove this sticky hard mess from your car's exterior, but you want to be careful to choose a method and product to do it that won't hurt your car's paint job.

I've found several videos below giving various tips for this process, from professional detailers.

In addition, I've also received quite a few tips from readers who've shared how they get this sticky stuff off their cars. There are product recommendations, DIY home remedies, as well as tips and instructions for various methods for removal.

Remember too, along with the tips below, I'm always looking for more great ways to remove these stubborn stains, along with recommendations for which products actually work to do it (and which don't).

You can share your sap stain removal tips here, or read other tips already submitted for other surfaces besides cars.

Also, for sap on fabric, upholstery and carpet, make sure to check out my tree sap stain removal guide here.

Top photo courtesy of nordique

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Remove Tree Sap From Car - Video Tips

Below is a video giving tips for how to remove tree sap from car paint.

This guy is a professional car detailer, and he uses lacquer thinner to remove the tree sap.

He cautions that you must be very careful when you use lacquer thinner not to keep it on very long, because it will damage your car's clear coat finish.

Further, if you don't have lacquer thinner, or don't want to use it on your vehicle, he also suggested the automotive versions of Goof Off or Goo Gone, and said isopropyl alcohol may also work, but will take longer.

He also demonstrated the way to rub the lacquer thinner onto the car to remove the sap.

Watch the video for full details on how to remove tree sap from car paint.

You can submit your own tip here, or read other tips already submitted.

You can also see my advice for tree sap removal from clothing, upholstery and carpet.

Lots of tips and tricks, plus product recommendations and DIY remedies to remove tree sap from your car exterior {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Photo by cogdogblog

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Removing Tree Sap From Cars With A Razor

Below is a video showing the techniques for removing tree sap from cars with a razor.

Personally, that seems like a really scary way to remove the sap because he even cautions that you can easily scrape and damage the paint on the car if you aren't careful.

He is a professional car detailer, and he says he uses this razor technique on sap that has been sitting for a long time in the sun and has gotten really hard.

He says he is demonstrating the technique on a car with a $30,000 paint job, so I assume he is pretty confident he won't hurt the paint.

He does bend the razor, however, to help him be more precise (it is hard to explain -- watch the video to understand how), so maybe that helps him.

After scraping off the top of the tree sap he says then it becomes weak, and you can remove the rest of it with a cleaner or polish.

Have you ever had success with removing tree sap from cars with a razor, or have you just scraped up your paint? Tell me either in the comments, or submit your own tip for how to remove this sticky substance.

Photo by Orin Zebest

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Two Methods For Removing Tree Sap On Car

by Linda Martin
(Folsom, CA)

Linda shared two methods for removing tree sap on cars.

Linda says:

Cooking oil is good for removing sap from car finish. It does not hurt the finish. Just wash afterwards.

You just apply liberally, let soak a minute, then use a nylon scrubby and old dish rag, or paper towels and elbow grease to get it off.

Denatured alcohol or mineral spirits is good for windows only.

I would never use a razor blade -- don't have to.

Try to do it spot by spot.

I used to live in the mountains and I was trying everything and somebody told me about the oil.

Denatured Alcohol {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Thanks for these tips Linda.

I like the fact that the cooking oil is cheap, and isn't toxic, which makes it a great suggestion to give a try!

Did you know denatured alcohol, also known as methylated spirits, can be used on all kinds of things in your home for stain removal and cleaning? You can check out the uses for denatured alcohol here that I've collected, from tips all around the site, or you can share even more with me!

Photo by gb_packards

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Ice: Free Sap Removal Tool

by Allan
(Grand Lake CO, Tucson AZ)

I own a new car that has a black paint, clear coat. I'm very careful with the car, but it shares the garage with my wood working tools, so from time to time it has to spend a few days in the driveway.

I have tried all manufacturers products and have found nothing is as good as the free tool everyone has available. What I'm talking about is a plain old ice cube.

Usually I take a glass of cold water, add 4 or 5 large cubes, move the car out of sun- generally just pull into the garage, grab a cube and move it across the warm finish of the car. The coldness of the ice solidifies the sap for just a few seconds while the hardness of the cube knocks the sap off.

Once I had a used car that I wanted to detail up before selling, unfortunately for me it had been parked under trees for over a year- quite a mess. Detail shops wanted a small fortune to clean the sap off as it was everywhere and was sun baked on. I didn't have the budget, so I tried a variety of products, nothing worked as well as an ice cube.

Try washing the car first to remove dirt and contaminants that will scratch the finish. Towel dry, let the finish warm up for a few minutes. Now pull inside, take a large ice cube, apply slight pressure. The cube will soon be flat on the surface where it contacts the paint, a small puddle forms, rub through the wet area, across sap a few times- sap gone!

Depending on the amount of sap, and the size of a panel, a cube often will clean a fairly large panel. Hope this helps.

Photo courtesy of Muffet

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Hand Sanitizer Works For Me

by Cheyenne
(Banning, CA)

Cheyenne says:

I live around pine trees and deal with sap on my truck everyday. Very FRUSTRATING!!!

But I found that hand sanitizer takes it off pretty good.

Just wipe off the the sticky mess first and then apply the sanitizer, let it sit for about 5 minuets, rub it with your fingers and the sap just disappears. =)

Hand Sanitizer {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Thanks for this tip Cheyenne!

It is amazing to me what all this product can do.

I've created a page of uses of hand sanitizer around your home and laundry, with other ways you can also use this common item. Come on over and check it out, plus add your own uses if you've got one!

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Remove Pine Sap From Car Paint With Windex

by Rich

Rich says:

Windex original glass cleaner with Ammonia-D is what I use for removing pine sap from my car's paint.

I have a newer car with good clearcoat. I sprayed it on, counted to 10, wiped it down fairly hard, all gone! Easy peasy.

uses for windex
I tried Goo Gone first with no luck, and didn't have lacquer thinner sitting around and really didn't want to use that harsh of a product.

And Windex considers itself a "Greenlist" product. Worked great.

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing what product worked for you Rich, I appreciate it.

I'll just have to add that to my ever growing list of the uses for Windex that readers have been sharing with me.

If you've got another use for Windex, or another product that works well for you to remove tree sap from cars, please share your tip with me. You can share your tip here.

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How To Remove Tree Sap On Car Paint

Below is a video from a professional car detailer saying how to remove tree sap on car paint.

Basically, his advice is quite simple -- use tree sap remover (see some suggested products down at the bottom of the page).

There are other methods out there for removing tree sap from a car, such as a razor, or other chemicals, but he suggests against them, which is actually in contradiction to the video directly above.

I think the obvious reason for the disagreement is whether you believe you can actually control the razor to have it work for you, or if you think you will chip your paint using this method. I tend to think I, personally, would be better off not using such a sharp instrument near my car's paint job.

Instead, using a product designed specifically to remove sap from your car's paint will make the process quick and easy.

Also, when you use a product specifically designed for a car's painted finish you don't have to worry about scraping and nicking the paint like you would with a razor, or hurting the finish of your paint like with other chemicals.

Here is the video for full details:

As you can see, there are lots of ways to remove tree sap from car paint. However, there is always more than one way to do something. If you've also got a great technique or tip, I would love to hear it, for either removing sap from your car or other surfaces in and around your home.

You can submit your own tip here, or read other tips already submitted, for other surfaces.

Tree Sap Removers Formulated For Cars

Photo by iwona kellie

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Comments for How To Remove Tree Sap On Car Paint

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Wesson oil removed it
by: Cindy

New car got washed and looked great until a blob of sap decided to land on the hood!

I tried to remove with old rag but all it did is smear it. I decided to try Wesson oil someone here recommended and it came right off. No damage to paint either. Thank you for posting!!!

WD-40 electrical contact cleaner spray
by: Matt

I just used WD-40 electrical contact cleaner spray (referral link). I scraped as much off with thumbnail without scratching the paint, sprayed it with the cleaner and it easily came right off.

Windex and a fingernail
by: John

Sometimes I get to the sap a little too late and the sap is hard as a rock. Nothing beats Windex and your fingernail.

Keep working you fingernail under the hardened sap.
Your fingernail pressure won't damage the paint. Within a minute the sap is gone!!!!

by: Diane

Has anyone tried Pinesol? Try it first using a Q-tip at full strength. It should work.

by: Joyce

I use WD-40. Removes any sap from hands, car, tools. Even generic lubricant that's a WD clone works. Spray on, wipe off, wash with soap and water. Much easier than anything I've ever used.

Pine sap stain
by: Anonymous

Pine sap was on the hood of my car for about one week. I was able to get the pine sap off of the hood of my car but it appears that it has discolored my hood. How do I clean up the stain left behind after the pine sap is removed???

SAP on F250 truck
by: Donna

Left our car at hotel during 8 day vacation was COVERED in Sap! Saw these posts Thanks! Tried Home Depot glass stove top cleaner, WORKED GREAT!! Used sponge scrubby and came right off with very little elbow grease soooo happy. You do need to get film left on off at car wash, but looks like entire car was just waxed.

Hand sanitizer works
by: Colleen

Tried soap first nope, tried varasol which worked somewhat but dried quickly, hand sanitizer worked great, apply, does not run or dry up too fast, let sit a bit, scrapped off a bit(with my nail) then applied a bit more liquid to cloth and scrubbed and came off fairly quickly

Pitch (tree sap)
by: Richard

Purell hand sanitizer. Works wonders. Cheap. Safe. When you have wiped all the hand sanitizer and tree sap off the car, then run it through the car wash and wax it. The sap will be much easier to remove from a waxed surface if you get sap on there again.

Boiling Water
by: Anonymous

Tree sap is a wax. When you light a wax candle the flame melts the wax. This is the easy way with virtually no cost. You need a bucket, a squeeze of washing up detergent, BOILING water, no it will not hurt your paint, a sponge, rubber gloves and your garden hose running. Apply the mix and immediately hose it off. The washing up liquid is the medium which carries the melted sap of the vehicle. Try it and you will not use expensive chemicals. Again its virtually free and we have been using this procedure for fifty years.

Denatured alcohol
by: Anonymous

Denatured alcohol removes sap easily off of cars without harming the finish.

Put it on a towel and rub lightly and after about 20 seconds the sap will be gone.

Keep It Green
by: Linda

Recently had 15 plus pines around my home trimmed with a resulting "pinesap mist" on everything. Tried all the posted tips with poor results (I'm 68 so not into a lot of scrubbing in 95 degrees). Tried a recently purchased green item from a local rural hardware store & was AMAZED! It's Keep It Green. Put some on a terrycloth & gently rub. MAGIC! Can also mix 3 T. in 1 qt. hot water & spray it. Beats everything else "hands down".

Kitchen oil
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for the tip! Used regular kitchen oil, came right off my brand new car 😜

Remove sap with hand sanitizer
by: Dave

He's right. Hand sanitizer removes both hardened or soft pine sap, and it works really fast with very little effort.

Hand sanitizer worked!
by: Sierra

I tried the Purell hand sanitizer, and it worked great. I'll definitely be using this every time I find sap on my car. Thanks for the tip!

by: Anonymous

This bug spray worked amazingly well in removing sap from my car!!!

Murphy's Oil Soap
by: Anonymous

We own a 2007 Mustang, there was an accumulation of sap on the drivers side door. The sap had been there for a long period of time, to the point where the sap was hard. I used Murphy's Oil Soap. It took a bit of time, and a great deal of rubbing with the continual application of the soap to the rag. Using this method did remove the sap.

Usually an oil base or petroleum product can be removed using the same substance as the removal agent. My thinking was, since the soap is oil based and safe for washing vehicles, that this was a good starting point as a home grown solution, that would not damage the paint or clear coat.

Pine sap removal
by: Anonymous

I have a car that has been parked under a big pine tree. It was just covered in dried on sap. I was able to easily remove dried sap from the glass with a razor blade scraper but of course, that would damage the paint. I thought I'd tried everything.
Then I tried Alcohol. I used rubbing alcohol, the 90% cut faster but I think the lesser concentrations were easier on the factory finish. I tried rags and cloth (some scratching) but ended up with baby wipes (they're cheap & non-abrasive). Soak a folded pad with alcohol and place it on the spot for a few minutes, then scrub as it dissolves. Keep changing the pad with clean. You can refold top get clean surface. Don't do too large an area, as it will dry back out leaving the residue over a large area. Work one spot at a time, go until it's clean. I got excited to finally be able to clean it off!

This car was so bad it was not saleable. It took time to do the whole car but it is now quite presentable. Now that I know I'll not let a car get that bad.

Skin So Soft worked
by: Debbie

We used (referral link) Skin So Soft from Avon. Came off very easy.

Sap Removal
by: Drifter

I just used (referral link) Turtle Wax bug and tar remover and it was easy and worked. I used a razor blade on the piles of sap. Be careful.

My truck was waxed about a week before it got sapped. Now I gotta kill pine trees.

Holy tree sap hacknado!
by: Joel

Just tried hand sanitizer on big drops of pine tree sap. It was working well and I ran out. It was dusk and after applying (referral link) "Off Skintastic" to stop the mosquitoes, tried it on remaining sap. EUREKA! Turns out, it contains ethyl alcohol. It took a little longer to let it soak, but worked well. Always use a soft terry or microfiber cloth to avoid scratching paint. Wash or gently use wax or polish to remove residual repellent.

pitch on my car
by: Patty

How can I remove pitch on my car?

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