Best Bug and Tar Remover for Cars

We all know that familiar splat of a bug hitting your windshield at 70 miles per hour. The next time this happens to you, give this Family Handyman Approved Bug and Tar Remover a try.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Upon returning home from a weekend summer road trip of about 300 miles, the front of our family vehicle looked more like an entomology exhibit than a mode of transportation. You know the deal. Then I dragged my feet on cleaning it up.

A few days later, I swung by the neighborhood auto parts store and picked up a can of Mother’s Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover to see if it could restore our eight-year-old Subaru to presentable shape.

What Is Mother’s Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover?

Mother’s Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover is a no-drip, professional-grade spray foam car cleaning product formulated to clean bugs, tar, bird droppings, tree sap and other caked-on substances from your vehicle’s exterior. It works on paint, glass, chrome, plastic or vinyl exterior components.

Simply spray it on and wipe off for quick spot cleaning. Or use it as a pre-wash to penetrate and loosen up dried-on residue and debris before washing your car.

How We Tested It

I planned on testing it as a spot treatment on the Subaru to see how well it took off bugs and general road rubbish on its own. Then, as a pre-wash, I sprayed it down the front of my pickup truck before taking it through the touchless car wash at my local gas station. I wanted to see how it dealt with weeks old-gunk plastered to the grill.

Performance Review

Fh22d Mothers Bug Remover 06 20 003 Family Handyman Approved Mother's Speed Foaming Bug And Tar RemoverFamily Handyman

The Mother’s Bug and Tar Remover worked spectacularly on our Subaru’s freshly-riddled front grill.

I layered a thick coating of the product across the front of our car. Thirty or so seconds later, I grabbed a clean microfiber car cloth to wipe off the foam, taking most of the bugs and filth with it.

Repeating the process a second and third time proved worthwhile. After a few minutes scrubbing away the most problematic splats, the Subaru’s front end looked better than it had in months.  The product claims to be drip-free, which may be true if you lightly mist the cleaner on. In my experience, you’re better off layering it on thick and letting it soak in, which inevitably produces some drips.

But when it came to removing bugs from my seldom-washed pickup, it wasn’t quite as successful. Once the sun baked on the acidic remains of those squashed insects, the Bug and Tar Remover didn’t stand a chance. After three applications, only about half the dead bugs disappeared. I even waited a full minute before wiping off the foam the final time.

The pre-wash test yielded better results. After waiting in line with the pickup at the car wash, I jumped out and doused the front with the Bug and Tar Remover from hood to tire. Minutes later, after finishing the wash, the front end of my truck looked as good as new. It’s the best seven-dollar gas station car wash I can remember.

I was still a little uncertain about this foaming bug and tar remover. So I asked some neighbors and co-workers if I could test it on their vehicles as well. This time, I focused on other types of messes, like bird droppings and tree sap.

I learned this product excels on bird droppings, works with some elbow grease on tree sap, and will almost instantly evaporate off hot, sun-soaked cars in the office parking lot.

Why You Should Buy It

After going through a full can of Mother’s Bug and Tar Remover on multiple vehicles, I can clearly see its value.  If you put on a bunch of miles for work or family road trips, or just want to keep your car flawlessly clean, this multi-surface cleaner is for you. Mother’s Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover has become a worthy addition to my garage cleaning cabinet.

Pros

  • Works well on fresh bugs and grime;
  • Awesome pre-wash;
  • Easy to use;
  • Safe to use on multiple exterior materials;

Cons

  • Not great for old, dried-on insects;
  • Doesn’t work well on hot cars in the sun.

Where to Buy

Mothers Speed Foaming Bug And Tar Remover Aerosol Ecomm Amazon.comvia merchant

Mother’s Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover is available from Amazon, Walmart, Tractor Supply Co. and Advanced Auto Parts.

Buy Now!

Ethan O'Donnell
An experienced woodworker, Ethan O'Donnell has built furniture, cabinetry and artistic elements for Fortune 500 companies as well as the National Park Service. He's also a certified rigger, forklift and telehandler operator with OSHA and UCOR safety certifications. When he's not renovating his rustic cabin in Minnesota's Northwoods, Ethan rides and repairs his fleet of bicycles and motorcycles.