How to Get Sap Off Car Paint & Glass

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how to get sap off car

Need to know how to get sap off car paint and/or glass?

We feel your pain, and we’re here to tell you all you need to know so you can get that sticky sap off of your car and make it look good again, without damaging your paint.

Car owners can remove tree sap from their vehicle’s surface using various methods. These
methods include hand-washing, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and commercial cleaning

Read on to find out all you need to know about how to use these methods. We’ve also included
guidelines on how to protect your car paint from the harsh chemicals involved.

5 Best Methods for Getting Sap Off Car Paint

There are many ways you can get rid of that pesky tree sap stuck on your car’s paint.

Some include the simple combination of soap and water, while others involve using strong
substances to get your car looking as good as new.

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow for each method.

Hand Washing

Giving your car a thorough hand wash is the first method you can try to remove sap from its

Before we get into the details of this method, note that if the sap has been on your car’s surface
for more than a week, then hand washing probably won’t do your car any good.

That said, if the sap hasn’t dried on your car’s paint yet, here’s what you should do:

For starters, you’ll need to gather all the equipment and materials necessary. Fill two buckets
with hot water and grab carwash soap, sponges, and your garden hose.

Before starting the sap removal process, give your entire car a good hosing. That’s because it’s
easier to locate blobs of sap on a clean car than on one that’s riddled with dirt.

Now that your car is clean, mix the carwash soap with the hot water and soak your sponge, or
microfiber cloth, in the mixture. Make sure that the water is hot, not warm. This step will go a
long way in softening any stubborn sap that has dried out and will, thus, make it easier to

Start scrubbing the sap off your car with your sponge, making sure that you don’t miss any sap
spots. Once satisfied with your work, grab the garden hose and rinse off the soap.

Carefully examine the car to see if there’s still any tree sap left behind. In case there is, you’ll
want to get a clean sponge and start scrubbing again. Keep repeating the process until none of
the sap remains.

Important Notes

The conditions in which you carry out the steps are a key factor in the success of this method.
Make sure you’ve parked your car in a position with no direct sunlight, preferably in a fully
shaded area.

That’s because sunlight will cause the water to dry out quickly, leaving water stains all over your

If you’re thinking of saving your efforts and taking your vehicle to the local carwash, we heavily
advise against that.

Automatic car washes are ineffective in removing tree sap and can actually make it worse.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another way to get rid of the tree sap stuck on your car.
Here’s how to do so:

First, grab a clean rag and soak it in some isopropyl alcohol for about a minute.

Once the rag is soaked all the way through, locate the areas of your car surface that have tree
sap on them and lay the rag on top.

Let the rag sit there for only 30 seconds. Make sure to pay attention to the time because leaving
the rubbing alcohol in contact with your car’s paint for any longer can cause permanent

When you remove the soaked rag, the sap should be noticeably softer.

Grab a microfiber cloth and try to scrub it off using a circular motion. If the rag is still not soft
enough, then re-soak it in the rubbing alcohol and repeat the process.

Once you’ve successfully wiped off all the sap on your car, the job is still not done. The final
step is to use soap and hot water to wash the area. This will do away with any rubbing alcohol
residues on your car’s paint.

Using Baking Soda

Another household material that can be highly useful in getting rid of tree sap on your car is
baking soda.

Here’s how to use it:

The initial step in the process is to mix the baking soda with warm water, creating a thick paste.
Then, use that paste to cover the areas on your car’s exterior that have sap stuck on them. Be
cautious when spreading the paste since it can be a bit abrasive and might damage your car’s

Leave the baking soda paste on top of the sap for 30 to 40 seconds and then pour boiling water
on it until the paste, along with the sap, washes off.

Now all that’s left to do is to thoroughly wipe the affected surface with a soaked cloth. This
should help remove any leftover paste.

Using Commercial Cleaning Solutions

Baking soda and rubbing alcohol are convenient because they’re available in most households.
However, they’re sometimes not enough to get rid of particularly stubborn tree sap.

In these cases, you’ll need a stronger, more specialized substance to get the job done. Luckily,
there are many commercial cleaning solutions available on the market for this purpose.

Once you’ve gotten your hands on one of these solutions, you’ll want to follow the usage
instructions on the package. These instructions will typically involve applying the solution to a
clean rag and letting it sit on your car’s surface for a minute or two.

In a similar fashion to rubbing alcohol, these solutions contain harsh chemicals that can have an
adverse effect on your car’s paint job. So, be careful not to leave them in contact with the paint
for too long.

The next step will be to grab a clean microfiber cloth and wipe away the softened sap.
When there’s no sap left to remove, use soapy hot water to wash off any remnants of the
cleaning solution on your car’s surface.

Hiring a Professional to Do it

In some cases, you’ll find that the tree sap on your car has become too dry for you to be able to
do anything about it—even with the help of a strong commercial cleaning solution.

For all you DIY buffs out there, this is the moment you’ve been dreading. You’re probably going
to need to call a cleaning service and schedule a professional to do the job for you.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait before you take this step, the harder it’ll be for the person
you hire to get the sap off. That’ll translate into a higher cost of service, of course.

Simply put, this option isn’t viable for those on a tight budget.

How to Remove Tree Sap From Windows and Windshield

So far, we’ve been discussing how you can get rid of tree sap on the painted areas of your car.
What about the tree sap that’s on your vehicle’s windshield and windows?

You’ll be pleased to know that it’s much easier to remove tree sap from glass surfaces. That’s
because there’s no need to worry about damaging your car’s paint job when doing so.

Additionally, sap doesn’t stick to glass as firmly as it does to a car’s body. Tree sap on glass
would then be less difficult to deal with.

That said, here are some nifty ways in which you can do away with that sap in a jiffy:

Using Rubbing Alcohol

You can also use rubbing alcohol to remove the sap on your car windows or windshield.
However, the way you go about it is a bit different.

Grab some cotton and cut off a ball. Make sure this cotton ball is of suitable size for the
windshield area affected by the tree sap. Soak that cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and let it sit on
top of the sap for seven to ten minutes.

The next step is to rub the sap off using the same ball of cotton. Once the sap has come off, use
a fresh ball of cotton to get rid of any rubbing alcohol remaining on the glass surface.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is another common household item that’s highly effective for softening tree sap.
Just like with rubbing alcohol, soak a cotton ball in vinegar and leave it on top of the sap for no
more than five minutes. Once this time has elapsed, you’ll find wiping off the sap with a
microfiber cloth rather easy.

Afterward, use any scented solution to wash off that nasty vinegar smell. Your preferred glass
cleaning product should suffice too.

Using a Blunt Blade

If you don’t have any vinegar or rubbing alcohol on hand, another solution to your tree sap
issues is a blunt blade.

The blunt end of a knife or a box cutter blade are good examples of what you can use.
Simply scrape off the dried tree sap and then wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and
hot water.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Rid of Sap Immediately?

A key consideration you need to keep in mind is that it’s always better to address the tree sap
on your car’s surface sooner rather than later.

That’s because the adverse effect of having tree sap on your vehicle isn’t just related to
aesthetics. When left on your car’s surface and exposed to direct sunlight, tree sap can become
hard as a rock.

This means that you’ll have an arduous task ahead of you when you finally get around to
removing it. Not only that, but the sap will also start eating away at the clear protective coating
on your car’s paint and damage the layer below.

However, if you’ve only left the tree sap on your car for a day or two, there’s no need to panic.
The issues of tree sap manifest after four to seven days of the liquid settling on your vehicle’s
surface. Use any of the methods above to get rid of it before then.

Protecting Car Paint After Removing Sap

When you use harsh chemicals such as rubbing alcohol or the ones present in commercial
cleaning solutions, you need to proceed with caution. That’s because these chemicals erode the
protective layer on your car’s paint job, leaving the paint itself exposed to the elements.
Therefore, take protective measures to prevent any damage to the paint.

Here’s what you can do:


One way to mitigate the risk of damage to your car’s paint is by applying car polish. This
substance acts to restore the paint and treat any scratches on it.

You can apply car polish either by hand or by using a machine buffer.

When polishing by hand, you’ll need to apply the car polish to a microfiber cloth and carefully
spread it on the car’s surface section by section. Apply the polish in a circular motion.

Once done, wipe off the car polish with a separate, clean microfiber cloth. Before applying the
polish, make sure to wash your car thoroughly.


Waxing your car rejuvenates the protective coating over the paint.

Before you apply the car wax, wash your car and make sure that it’s completely clean.
Next, apply the wax similar to how you’d apply car polish.


Has the tree in your driveway dropped its sap all over your vehicle? If it has, you’re probably
wondering how to get sap off a car.

There are many ways you can go about doing so. You can hand wash your car using soap and
water. Another option is to resort to stronger substances such as rubbing alcohol, baking soda,
and commercial cleaning solutions.

Whichever of these methods you choose to use, remember to get that sap off before it hardens!

Photo of author


Tyler Dixon is the founder of, and enjoys all things automotive-detailing. He has had a passion for all things automotive since childhood, and could often be found detailing his parents vehicles at a young age. He enjoys sharing his passion and skills for detailing with others, and is always looking for the next vehicle to transform.

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