How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car

Published by Jeff Torres

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How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car

How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car

Finding a parking spot in the shade under a beautiful tree on a hot spring day is like stumbling on a winning lottery ticket. But it might come with a cost– a few drops of tree sap on your windshield, hood, or roof. Although a few drops of tree sap are not the end of the world, if left to dry, it can harm your car’s paint. That’s why we will let you on some tips and tricks on how to remove hardened tree sap without causing any permanent damage.

We’ve seen a lot of cases of hardened tree sap on various cars, and you can believe us when we say that something works. We’ve gathered all the effective ways to clean your car from tree sap in one article so you can make it look spotless in no time.

How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car

By knowing how to remove hardened tree sap from car you will have a perfectly clean exterior without hard stains. Before we explain how to do it, let’s ensure you have everything you need.

Although tree sap can be quite stubborn and hard to clean, most of the time, you can remove it with the help of several home supplies. Some of the things that may remove tree sap from your car effortlessly and harmlessly are:

  • Soap and water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Olive oil
  • Baking soda
  • WD-40
  • Commercial sap remover

The steps for removing the hardened tree sap depend on your choice of the supplies mentioned above. Whichever method you choose, it’s best to wash your car thoroughly before treating the sap stain. If you are lucky enough to catch it on time, while the sap hasn’t hardened like epoxy, the sap might come off with just a car wash.

Having a clean and dry car will make the process easier. You will be able to thoroughly inspect the car and ensure you are not missing any other sap stains.

How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car

Soap and water

We always recommend you start with the simplest and gentlest way to deal with the tree sap stains on your car. Get a bucket and fill it with warm water. Mix the warm water with a mild car wash soap and gently scrub with a sponge or soft cloth.

More specifically, pour some water-soap solution into the area covered with tree sap and let it soak for a minute. Continue by dipping a soft cloth or a sponge in the mix and gently rubbing it on the stain. If you use a sponge, don’t rub the stain with its rough side.

If you take timely action, the soap will probably do the job and remove the sap from your car. Most importantly, your car will be squeaky clean without damaged paint.

Soap and Water
Source: / Photo Contributor: fongbeerredhot

Isopropyl alcohol

If you are having trouble removing the sap stain with soapy water, you can try removing it by applying isopropyl alcohol. You just need to dampen a microfiber cloth with alcohol and start rubbing the stain until it is completely removed.

You don’t need to use too much force. The isopropyl alcohol is strong enough and will effectively make the sap soft and easily removable, even if you use gentle movements. After you are done, ensure you remove the alcohol residue with water. Wipe it dry with another clean cloth, and you’ll have yourself a stain-free car.

Hand sanitizer

If you have a hand sanitizer lying around in your car, you can use it immediately after you notice the sap on your car. The idea of cleaning with hand sanitizer is that it contains alcohol. As the isopropyl alcohol is one of the most effective ways to remove hardened tree sap from the car, most hand sanitizers should also work.

Apply the hand sanitizer directly on the sap stain and leave it for a few minutes. Start scrubbing with a cotton ball or a microfiber cloth. After a short time of rubbing, you will notice that the sap starts to disintegrate. Continue the process until it disappears completely.

Olive oil

Although hard to believe at first we learned that olive oil can work wonders with tree sap on vehicles. Once you let it sit on the fresh sap, the oil might make the sap easier to clean. The ingredients in the oil can loosen the stain. If you want, put a cloth soaked in hot water to add additional penetration.

After five minutes, start wiping the oil away. The last step is to wash the area with warm water and soap until it is no longer oily.

In addition to olive oil, you can use other types of cooking oil, such as coconut or canola oil.

Baking soda

Another effective way to get rid of the tree sap from your car is by using baking soda. If you choose this technique, follow these steps:

  • Add warm water to the baking soda
  • Mix them until you get a thick paste
  • Use the paste to cover the sap stain, use gentle movements,
  • Let the soda sit for a few minutes
  • In the meantime, get a bucket of warm water and pour it over your car
  • Wipe the area clean, ensuring there is no baking soda left over
Baking Soda
Source: / Photo Contributor: focal point


WD-40 is more than just a rust preventive and lubricant product. You can also use it for those hardened tree sap stains. Simply spray the WD-40 on the sap stain and leave it for at least 5 minutes. Get a dry cloth and rub away the sap.

Commercial sap remover

In addition to the home remedies, you can purchase commercial sap removers. You will have a big choice because many manufacturers have sap remover solutions.

Unfortunately, we can not guarantee that any brands you purchase will work. All of them are formulated to remove sap, but not all have the same ingredients, making some more effective than others.

To remove tree sap from your car with a commercial sap remover, follow the instructions on the packaging. More often than not, you should shake the solution, apply it on the stain, leave it for one to five minutes, depending on the brand, and finish with scrubbing.

How to Remove Hardened Tree Sap From Car Windshield

Now you know all the ways how to remove the tree sap from your car’s exterior, but what happens if it is on your windshield? First and foremost, don’t turn your windshield wipers on. If it is still fresh, you will likely damage them and spread the sap all over the windshield.

Instead, you can utilize the following three things:

  • Hold large ice cubes on the sap for a few minutes and peel or scrape the sap carefully
  • Clean the sap with distilled white vinegar
  • Place a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol

Before and after using one of these techniques, it is important to clean the windshield with glass cleaner. Cleaning it before removing the sap will ensure all dirt and other debris is removed and minimizes the chances of scratching your windshield. Ultimately, cleaning the windshield after you’ve successfully removed the sap will remove everything that is left over.

A little expert tip for glass cleaners: never use ammonia-based cleaning solutions on your windshield. Such supplies can damage your windshield and cause more harm than good.

Why Should You Remove Tree Sap Immediately After Noticing?

Leaving tree sap untreated for a long time might damage your car’s paint. Tree sap is an extremely sticky substance that might cause:

  • Paint discolor and damage
  • Etching and permanent stains on your car
  • Damage to the clear coat of the paint

If some of this occurs, you will have to pay us a visit so we can inspect your vehicle and look for solutions. Depending on the damage the tree sap has caused, your car might require paint restoration, polishing, waxing, etc.


Knowing how to remove hardened tree sap from car will avoid damage to your car exterior, but at the same time, will save you from spending a lot of money on unnecessary repairs. Follow our expert tips, and you will be good to go. If you notice damage to your vehicle from the tree sap, immediately contact our Epic Detailer team for professional help.

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