Two birds perched on the edge of a car windscreen
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Paint-safe ways to remove bird poo from your car

Bird poo and some tree sap can damage your car’s paint surprisingly quickly. Here are the best ways to clean it and fix minor discoloration before it becomes a major problem

By Shell on Apr. 14, 2022

More than just unsightly, bird droppings and some kinds of tree sap are bad news for your car's paintwork. Due to their acidic nature, they eat away at the paint and clear coat, leaving etch marks and other damage. If the stains are left long enough, a respray might be the only way to bring the paint back to new.

So how do you stop these all-too inevitable deposits from leaving their mark? Here's how to safely clean them off and fix minor damage – and prevent them from hitting your car in the first place.

Time matters

With the acids in tree sap and bird droppings capable of damaging paint within minutes, you need to act quickly to get them off. Both also tend to harden and bond tighter to paint as they dry, making them ever more difficult to remove – another reason to clean them off pronto.

Never work dry

The golden rule of banishing these deposits is getting them back to a liquid state, which makes them easier to remove and lowers the chances of damaging paint in the process. If you have a hose, use it to wet the stain and/or spray as much off as possible. Or place a damp microfibre cloth on the stain for a few minutes to soften it up sufficiently for easier removal. Other handy homespun items for the task include soda water (its carbonation also breaks down damaging acids) and a mix of baking soda, dish soap and hot water (spray to wet the stain, leave to soak for five to 10 minutes, then hose off, repeating as necessary).

Lift, don't wipe, the stain

You've softened up the deposit but you don't want to wipe or scrub it off. Bird poo typically contains seeds, stones and other grit that can scratch paint. To avoid damage, fold a damp microfibre cloth into sections and use a clean section to dab and 'lift' the wet stain off, moving to a new clean section each time some muck is removed.

On the go and don't have access to water?

A bottle of car-detailing spray is a great water substitute. Use it to 'wet' the stain, then use clean sections of a folded microfibre cloth to 'lift' it off as described above, using as much as is needed to keep the stain from drying out during the process. Single-use bird-dropping 'wipes' are an even easier way to keep the stains at bay on the go and follow the same wetting/lifting process.

Fixing small marks

Bird poo or sap has etched a small, dull mark into your paint – what now? If it's not too deep, a retail DIY paint-cleansing and restoring product can help repair or disguise the damage. If that doesn't fix the problem, you'll probably need the help of a professional car detailer, who has a host of tools available to address sullied paint. If the stain has been left so long the paint has cracked, a respray might be your only option.

Prevention is better than a cure

If you have any choice in the matter, not parking under trees will lower the odds of a bird splattering, if not eliminate random attacks. If you must have shade, check the ground under trees before parking and go for spots with less evidence of bird life.

There are products that can make a difference. While a coat of wax won't stop paint being damaged, it will slow the process and buy you more time to clean things up. Even better are modern ceramic or glass vehicle coatings, which form a barrier to stop these deposits seeping through and damaging paint. They also make stains easier to clean off.

Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.