How To: Clean Pollen and Sap Off Your Car

Spring has sprung, and while the local flora is at its most beautiful right now, the side effect is pollen and tree sap floating and falling everywhere — including onto vehicles. While not immediately harmful to paint finishes, it should nevertheless be removed quickly. In today’s blog post we share a few best practices and tips on how to add a little protection so clean up next time will be even easier.


  • Several clean microfiber towels
  • Bug and tar remover
  • Optional: glass cleaner
  • Bucket, water, soap, wash mitt
  • Spray-on quick detailing wax

To start, give your car a thorough wash and dry. This will get rid of superficial debris on the surface. Then, locate any gloopy spots and spray on a little bug and tar remover — the Mothers Speed Foaming variety works well — and let absorb for about a minute. Grab a microfiber towel and gently dab or rub to see if whatever was stuck on is coming loose. Stubborn things like sap may require multiple applications to neutralize, and sometimes using a fingernail helps to dislodge a large chunk.

These steps can be performed on most parts of the vehicle, but use separate towels for non-body areas like the windows and wheels so you don’t end up scratching the paint with picked up grit.

Now that the exterior is clean, lets make it harder for the sticky stuff to settle in future. Take a bottle of spray on wax, like Turtle Wax Ice Synthetic, and liberally apply to all panels — Ice Synthetic is advertised to be safe on plastic, rubber trim, metal and glass as well. Containing carnauba, the resulting coat repels springtime fallout, and also water, dirt and dust.

If the windshield is looking streaky after following the above instructions, use a liquid glass cleaner and wipe clear with a cloth.

For optimal results, give the car a proper waxing once or twice a year.

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights