How To Get Tree Sap Off a Car

No matter how it got there, tree sap is a big pain in the neck. Here, we'll show you how to get tree sap off a car with minimal effort.

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Next Project

1 - 2 hours






If you've ever parked your car outside for any length of time, there's a good chance you've experienced the frustration of finding tree sap on your vehicle.

During warmer months, trees often shed excess drops of extremely sticky sap, paying no heed to the spotless rides parked below. Even more annoying: Regular car soap and water won't remove it. Neither will most cleaning products.

We've been there, too. And we're about to share an easy, surefire method for getting tree sap off a car or any other vehicle.

Tools Required

  • None

Materials Required

  • Car soap (optional)
  • Disposable heavy-duty shop towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Swarfega hand cleaner
  • Water

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Apply Swarfega hand cleaner

  • Locate the tree sap on your vehicle.
  • Cover each splotch of sap with a thin layer of Swarfega hand cleaner.
  • Rub the cleaner into the sap with your finger to ensure full contact.
  • Let the cleaner to sit undisturbed for one to two hours. This gives it time to soften the sap.

 Apply green Cleaner from a pump bottle onto the carRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 2

Rub clean

  • Take a clean heavy-duty disposable shop towel and rub down the treated areas.
  • Examine each spot after a few wipes. The sap should come off easily. Don’t use a lot of elbow grease; hard rubbing could damage your vehicle’s clear coat.
  • Reapply Swarfega to any particularly stubborn spots. Leave them alone for another hour before wiping again. Repeat if necessary.

using a blue rag to wipe the sap spotRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 3

Finish up with rubbing alcohol

  • Wet a fresh shop towel with some rubbing alcohol.
  • Carefully examine each treated area, looking for tiny bits of tree sap that resisted the hand cleaner.
  • Wipe these areas with the alcohol-infused shop towel until every bit of sap is gone.

using rubbing alcohol and a blu rag to wipe the sap spotRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 4

Perform final wipe down

  • Wet one more shop towel with water.
  • Wipe down all treated areas, cleaning off the rubbing alcohol and any remaining hand cleaner. At this point you can also wash the car if you’d like.

a hand with a blue rag on the hood of a clean carRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman