If you live in a state where there is a dense population of bugs, such as Florida or Louisiana, it’s inevitable that your car will get splattered with bugs on your daily drives. Bugs splats on your windshield can be a hazard if you don’t clean them regularly, as they can obstruct your view of the road.
Your front bumper and hood are two other areas where bug splats can accumulate. Although this does not compromise your safety when you drive, it is just as crucial to clean them as soon as possible. Dead bugs can be acidic, so leaving them on your vehicle can actually damage the paint.
How to Remove Bugs from Your Car (Without Damaging the Paint)
Bug guts and stains typically don’t come off easily with just regular cleaning. There’s a specific process that you have to follow to get the stains off without damaging your vehicle’s surface.
Read on to find out the best way to get bugs off your car.
1. Wash Your Car
If your vehicle is particularly dirty, you may want to give it a good wash prior to dealing with the bugs and/or bug stains. This will help you see the affected areas better.
2. Select Your Bug Remover
There are bug removers that are specially formulated to clean bugs that are stuck on the surface of your vehicle. However, there are a few other methods that you can use if you don’t want to purchase another car care product.
Take your pick from the choices below:
If the bug stains are fairly fresh, you can use a microfiber bug mitt to remove them. When used with regular car soap, the abrasiveness of the soft foam and net should be enough to successfully remove the fresh bug stains.
You may also opt to use WD-40 if that’s what you have on hand (which most of us do). Among its many uses is removing dead bugs and stains from a car’s surface. Spray it on the affected area and allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping with a clean cloth.
Here’s a surprising hack for removing dead bugs from your car—using fresh dryer sheets! These laundry staples aren’t just great for getting wrinkles out of your clothes. Apparently, they have properties that can help you effectively remove bug splats, as well as any stubborn tar or sap that a regular washing can’t remove.
Simply moisten the sheet with water, then rub on the affected area with light to medium pressure. There will be a bit of residue left over from the sheet, so give the area a thorough rinse afterward.
Some people also recommend placing a dryer sheet in a spray bottle filled with warm water, spraying the area, then buffing it out with a microfiber cloth.
Bug and Tar Remover
For hard-to-remove stains, using a bug and tar remover is probably your best option. There are a few different formulas and types to choose from—bug removers can either come in spray form, as a special car wash soap, or even as water-activated wipes.
Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly before attempting to use these on your vehicle.
3. Prepare and Apply Cleaning Formula
If you’re using a bug and tar remover, WD-40, or the dryer sheet and water spray solution, prepare these cleaning solutions first. For the bug remover, follow the instructions on the bottle. As for the other two, follow the instructions provided above.
Spray or apply your chosen cleaner to the bug-encrusted or stained areas. You may need to allow the product to soak for a few minutes, but again, this will depend on the cleaning solution you’re using.
If you are using a bug mitt or the dryer sheet method that does not involve placing it in a spray bottle, skip this step and just spray some water on the affected areas.
4. Carefully Wipe or Rub Affected Areas
If using a cleaning solution, such as the three mentioned in the previous step, the next thing to do is to take a microfiber cloth or sponge and carefully rub the areas to remove the dead bugs and stains.
Do the same thing if you’re using the bug mitt or dryer sheet—but keep in mind that you may need to go back in with a microfiber cloth after using the latter.
Rinse the treated areas, then repeat steps 3 and 4 until the stains completely come off.
5. Wash Your Car (Again)
Even if you’ve already washed your vehicle prior to starting this whole process, you’re going to want to do it again to ensure that there is no leftover residue on the paint surface.
6. Apply Car Wax
Most of the cleaning methods mentioned above, such as the WD-40 and dryer sheets, can strip the wax off your car. Therefore, after washing your vehicle, make sure to re-apply the wax.
Follow the instructions on the product to ensure proper application.
There is no single best way to remove bugs from your car’s paint, but whatever method you choose, always make sure to exercise caution to avoid scratching your car. When buffing, always start with a light pressure—don’t be too rough with it. If you find that the light pressure isn’t working, gradually increase pressure.
Protecting Your Car from Bug Stains
While it’s good to know how to remove bug stains from your car, it’s better to know how to protect your car from getting stained in the first place.
This will make car cleanup easier in the long run.
- Protective coatings. These usually come in a solution that is sprayed on the vehicle. They come in different forms, but generally, these products work by making the surface of your vehicle extra slippery so that bugs won’t stick to the paint of your vehicle.
- Protective films. Also known as a clear bra, these films are applied to the car temporarily to preserve the vehicle’s paint job. These work well in protecting from bug stains as the bugs will stick to the film instead of your car’s paint. Obviously, for best results, you’ll want to have them applied by a professional.
- Painter’s tape. If you’re willing to sacrifice aesthetics and you won’t be traveling for a long period of time, you may opt to apply painter’s tape to your bumper. The bugs will stick to the tape instead of your car’s surface, so all you have to do is remove the tape to get rid of the bugs.
Be aware that this method can damage some paint finishes, so it’s best to consult with your trusted auto body expert before sticking painter’s tape to your bumper or any other part of your vehicle.