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How to Remove Sap Your Christmas Tree Left Behind

A close-up of tree sap dripping off tree bark

Do you know how to remove sap left behind by your Christmas tree? Although a fresh pine or fir looks and smells beautiful, its sticky sap is a nuisance. No matter how careful you are, it can get on your car when you transport that festive tree home. Here’s how to remove sap from your car.

Don’t Delay

While sap won’t hurt glass surfaces, it can damage paint over time. It won’t happen immediately, but left unchecked, it will etch through the clear coat on top of your paint, causing discoloration and staining. You don’t want to wait until after the holidays to remove it — as soon as you see sap on your car, take the time to clean it off.

Wash the Whole Car

The first step in removing sap is washing the whole car. Simply clean your car with the same car wash solution you usually use. Don’t worry about trying to get the sap off specifically. The focus here is to remove any dirt around the area where the sap is stuck.

Remove Exterior SapTree sap

You’ll need a specialty cleaner designed to remove sticky substances from your car. These come in either a spray or gel form, which both work well. Follow the instructions on the bottle carefully. While some work quickly, others need to sit for a minute or two before you rub the area clean with a soft towel. Depending on how stubborn the sap is, you may need to repeat this step several times to get it all off.

Don’t just wing it when it comes to choosing a sap removal product. Some cleaning agents are too harsh for your paint and could cause costly damage to its surface. Only use a product that’s specifically designed for use on automotive paint.

Remove Interior Sap

Sap on your car’s exterior is one problem, but sap on the inside requires a whole different approach. If sap got on your hands as you were tying a tree onto the roof and you then touched the steering wheel, seat belts or seats, you need to remove it as soon as possible to prevent damage.

Once again, only use specialty cleaners designed for car interiors to remove sap. If your interior has leather surfaces, only use a leather cleaner as other products can damage the leather and leave permanent marks. Once the sap is completely removed, use a leather conditioner to finish the job.

Sap can create a sticky mess, but with the right products and a little determination, cleaning it can be a breeze.

Check out all the cleaners available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on removing sap, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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