You Can Use Hand Sanitizer To Remove Tree Sap From Your Car

Along with sketchy mechanics, speed limits and faulty O2 sensors, tree sap is your car’s worst nightmare. Once it has marred your otherwise pristine paint job, the stuff just won’t come off. The good news is that there’s actually an easy way to remove the plant excrement.

There are tons of products out there that promise to remove that pesky tree sap from your car’s paint. Some of them work, some of them are total garbage. But why waste your time with those when you can just grab some hand sanitizer from 7-Eleven and call it a day?


My Jeep Cherokee has been sitting under a big pine tree since I blew up its engine a few months ago, so now it’s covered with tons of sap.

After trying a damp rag to remove the sticky stuff, I knew I needed something a bit more potent. So I grabbed a little bottle of hand sanitizer, squeezed a drop onto the spot, and rubbed it with my finger. It worked like a charm! Here’s what you do

1. Squeeze A Little Drop Of Hand Sanitizer Onto The Sap


It doesn’t take much hand sanitizer to clean sap, so start with a small drop.

2. Gently Rub The Sap With Your Finger


Don’t go crazy with the rubbing, just gently move your finger over the sap spot, and watch as the disinfectant dissolves the goo.

3. Dry It Off With A Cloth/Paper Towel


Once the sap spot is gone, just dry it off. There will likely still be a little residue left over.

4. Wash The Spot With A Wet Cloth/Paper Towel And Dry It


To remove the residue, simply pour a bit of water onto a rag and wipe the area down. Then dry the spot with a rag, and you’re good to go. The result is a sapless paint job:


It’s worth noting, though, that the sanitizer will remove wax, and that some forum members are still concerned about hand sanitizer’s effect on clear coat (they’re worried about its 70 percent alcohol content).

So before doing this, I recommend testing the method on a spot of paint that’s not visible (perhaps under the hood) just to make sure your paint and clear coat jibe well with the sanitizer.


After having done this multiple times, though, I feel comfortable recommending it. And so does Drive Accord forum user Coach Steve, who says:

First of all, I have yet to use a product specifically formulated and sold as a tree sap remover that comes anywhere close to how fast sanitizer works at removing sap. That being the case, when you take into consideration how little is required to dissolve and remove sap from your car, and, given the speed at which alcohol evaporates, you would be hard pressed to actually harm your finish to any noticeable degree.


He goes on to say:

I have purposely done extensive, non-scientific testing on this subject to prove my hypothesis and have yet to create ANY damage whatsoever. Period.


So you can stop having nightmares about sap on your car. If a tree decides to drip on your precious car, just head to the corner store for the ultimate anti-sap weapon.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio