| Car Care

It doesn’t take long for your bumper to collect gunk, like dead bug splatters, hardened tree sap, and tar spots, and if this grime sits for too long, it can be a hassle to clean up. Fortunately, you can get rid of dead bugs, sap, and tar on your own (without too much trouble) if you have the right tools and knowledge to rely on. Here are some helpful tricks, some truly wonderful DIY methods, to get your car clean and shiny once again. Even better news, you probably have many of these supplies on hand already!

How to Remove Dead Bugs from Your Car

Dead bug stains aren’t just gross – they leave behind acidic fluids that calcify and can damage your car’s paint job. Removing dried-on bug splats without a proper cleaning solution often results in paint scratching. Yikes.

Luckily, you can make your own DIY bug remover to clean dead bugs from your car without damaging the paint.

Use a Bug Sponge

Removing bug stains from your car requires extra scrubbing power that a handy bug sponge can provide. It’s super thick and dense, so it can hold a lot more water and cleaning solution than a regular sponge. It’s also made with microfiber and mesh, so it’s abrasive enough to get the bugs off of your car, but gentle enough to not cause any damage.

You can use a microfiber towel, soft cloth or old cotton t-shirt and some elbow grease to clean dead bugs off your car, too. Just avoid using terry cloth, which can be too abrasive and leaves behind lint.

What Not to Use to Clean Dead Bugs Off Your Car

Before we dive in, a word on what products you shouldn’t use to clean dead bugs, love bugs, sap, and tar off your car:

  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap/dishwashing detergent
  • Glass cleaner (Note: Glass cleaner can damage car paint, but it’s safe to use on windows)

These household items could damage your car’s paint job by stripping off the protective wax and leaving a dull patch. While dull patches can be fixed with car wax, it’s important to know that these ingredients are abrasive and are not meant for use on car paint.

What to Use to Remove Dead Bugs and Bug Stains from Your Car

It’s pretty easy to make a DIY bug remover using supplies and ingredients you probably already have in your home. You can try any of the following solutions.

Baby Shampoo

Gentle on paint, but tough on gunk, baby shampoo mixed with vinegar is one of the best ways to clean dead bugs off of your car. If it leaves a dull patch, polish with car wax.

You’ll need:

  • Bucket or spray bottle
  • Baby shampoo
  • Vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Mix baby shampoo with vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle or bucket. If using a spray bottle, shake well to combine. Spray on stains.
  • Using light pressure, gently scrub at the bug residue with your rag or sponge. Wipe clean.

Dryer Sheets

The dryer sheets you use to do laundry are pretty effective at removing dead bug stains! They work really hard, but are super gentle.

You’ll need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Dryer sheets
  • Warm water

Instructions:

  • Put a dryer sheet inside a spray bottle and fill it with warm water. Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Spray the bug stains and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently wipe off another dryer sheet.

Baby Oil:

Baby oil is very effective at breaking down the dead bug stains from your car. You can use other kinds of oil to remove dead bugs from your car too, like cooking oil or spray.

You’ll need:

  • Baby oil
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Pour two tablespoons of baby oil onto a rag and wipe over the surface of the car. Let sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently wipe clean with a rag.
  • Clean away baby oil residue with water and baby shampoo.

WD-40

Did you know WD-40 can be used to clean dead bugs off your car? It won’t damage your car’s paint job, and you probably already have it on hand!

You’ll need:

  • WD-40
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Spray WD-40 directly onto the bug stain.
  • Wipe clean with rag.

Glass Cleaner

Glass cleaner may be too abrasive to use on car paint, but it’s great to remove gunk from windows. Mix it with a little baby shampoo and use it to remove dead bugs from your windshield.

You’ll need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Glass cleaner
  • Baby shampoo or dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Mix glass cleaner with a little baby shampoo or dish soap. Shake well to combine. Spray on bug splats and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently wipe away with a rag.

How to Clean Tree Sap Off of Your Car

Cleaning hardened pine and tree sap off of your car is tricky. Done incorrectly, the dried sap can scratch your car’s paint job. Use one of these home remedies to remove the sap without damaging your car.

DIY Recipes to Remove Tree Sap from Your Car

Scraping off hardened tree sap can leave unsightly paint scratches. A DIY tree sap remover can get rid of tree sap without damaging your car’s paint job using these supplies:

Mineral Spirits

A tough solvent like mineral spirits dissolves hardened tree sap without a problem.

You’ll need:

  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag
  • Mineral spirits

Instructions:

  • Pour two tablespoons of mineral spirits onto a rag.
  • Using the least amount of pressure possible, gently buff the sap spots. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Gently wipe away mineral spirits with a clean, damp rag.

Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Shop your bathroom for this next DIY. Non-acetone nail polish remover is surprisingly good at cleaning sap off of your car. Just be sure to use an acetone-free remover. If it leaves a residue, scrub it away with a baking soda paste. Polish dull patches with car wax.

You’ll need:

  • Non-acetone nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls

Instructions:

  • Pour some nail polish onto a cotton ball.
  • Gently buff the sap spot, which should wipe right off.

Glass Cleaner

Hardened sap spots on your windshield can be difficult to remove. Scratch off and spray residue with a handy household glass cleaner, which is especially good at getting rid of hardened tree sap stains.

You’ll need:

  • Razorblade or hobby knife
  • Glass cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Gently scratch away larger pieces of sap from windshields and windows with a razor blade or hobby knife.
  • Spray glass cleaner on remaining sap spots and wipe clean.

Baby Oil

Quickly break down the tree sap stuck to your car using baby oil. You can also substitute it for cooking oil or spray.

You’ll need:

  • Baby oil
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag
  • Glass cleaner

Instructions:

  • Pour two tablespoons of baby oil into a rag and wipe it over the buggy areas. Let sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently wipe clean with a rag.
  • Clean off baby oil residue with a glass cleaner and a clean rag.

How to Clean Tar Off of Your Car

Petroleum-based gunk like road tar, tire rubber, specks of asphalt, grease, and oil are constantly coming in contact with your car. They latch on to every surface and are really hard to remove. Soap and water aren’t enough to remove these though stains. You’ll need something stronger!

Mineral Spirits

A solvent or strong detergent like mineral spirits can get rid of pesky tar, asphalt, and oil stains. For really tough stains, try using a paint-cleaning polish.

You’ll need:

  • Mineral spirits
  • Microfiber cloth or cotton rag

Instructions:

  • Pour two tablespoons of mineral spirits onto a rag.
  • Gently buff out the tar stain. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe away mineral spirits with a clean, damp rag.

How to Prevent Bug Stains & Protect Your Car

Remember: the longer you wait to clean dead bug splatters, sap, and tar off of your car, the harder it is to remove. Take proactive measures now, and you’ll make your life easier in the future!

Wash your car and apply a few coats of car wax so future stains clean off more easily, especially ahead of summer bug season or a big road trip. You can also apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the bumper, hood, and other surfaces of your car. The jelly is an invisible shield that makes it so easy to wipe away dead bugs and the other gunk that stick to it.

Taking good care of your car also means making sure it’s covered with the right car insurance policy. Call 1-877-GO-Direct (1-877-463-4732), visiting us online, or talk to your local Direct Auto agent to learn how cheap car insurance can keep you protected without breaking the bank.

Keep Reading:

Tidying Up with Direct Auto: 5 Car Cleaning Hacks to Keep Your Ride Neat

DIY: How to Wash Your Car Like a Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

How to Protect Car Paint from Sun Damage

 

 

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