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Car Finish Enemy #1: Bird Poop. Here’s How to Clean It Without Making Things Worse

Easy ways to ensure you're not left with a permanent reminder of your fine feathered visitor

Whether you parked your car under a very active tree and it’s now covered in bird droppings or a stray pigeon, robin or blue jay has left you one or two surprises, those tell-tale white splotches can really ruin the look of your car. Even worse? Left to sit there, bird droppings may actually do lasting damage to the exterior finish as they etch into the finish and leave permanent stains. But cleaning the nasty stuff the wrong way can also cause damage. Here, car experts reveal their tips for the best ways to clean bird poop off your car so that all trace of it is gone for good!

Bird droppings on a car windshield waiting to be cleaned
Let’s hope this never happens to you!RudenkoStudio/Shutterstock

Will bird poop ruin my car’s finish?

Bird poop is one of the most common causes of automotive paint damage in the world. That’s because it has a slightly acidic pH level — ranging from 3.5 to 4.5. “The acids will eat away at your car’s glossy top layer, exposing the paint and body surface underneath, which can eventually cause rust spots,” says Lauren “The Car Coach” Fix, automotive analyst and owner of CarCoachReports.com.

Plus, when it’s warm out, the glossy layer on your car’s paint will soften and expand, but bird poop hardens. So, at night, when the temperature cools, it will contract around the hardened bird poop, forming faint indentations that you’ll be able to see on your car’s surface, even after the poop is gone. To make matters even more complicated, bird droppings contain bits of rock, sharp grains and gristle that can leave scratches behind if you try to wipe it away without treating it properly first.

How soon do I need to clean bird poop from my car?

The sooner you clean bird poop from your car, the better, Fix advises. Fact is, damage can start within just 10 minutes of contact if it’s a hot and sunny day. But the general rule of thumb is that you should clean it within 48 hours, at which point the acids can cause a permanent stain in your car’s paint job.

The good news? You don’t need to be a professional detailer to tackle the job, just try one of the easy methods below!

What is the best way to clean fresh bird poop off my car?

If the stain is relatively fresh, you can often remove it just by using your garden hose. To do:

  1. Use a low-flow setting on the hose to gently dampen and soften the spot. Let it soak for about five minutes.
  2. Once softened, hit the spot using the high-pressure hose setting to blast the poop away.
  3. Wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth and reapply wax if you notice the area has lost its shine.

What is the best way to clean set-in bird poop off my car?

Once bird poop has been sitting there for a while, experts say there are many methods you can try, depending on what you have on hand at home, but the two best ways? Using cooking spray or baking soda.

How to clean bird poop off my car using cooking spray

According to Ray Pierce, founder of ZippyCashForCars.com. “Cooking oil spray is a great way to remove stubborn dirt, grime or stuck-on bird poop from your car’s exterior. Just spray it over the spot you’re trying to clean, let it sit for a few minutes and you’ll find the previously glued-on gunk slides right off!” Cooking oil, it turns out, helps break down sticky substances like bug, sap and bird droppings.

How to clean bird poop off my car using baking soda

baking soda, spray bottle
aomas/Shutterstock

This pantry staple is made from sodium bicarbonate, a natural base that reacts in fizzy fashion when it comes into contact with an acid. That fizzing is actually CO2 gas being produced, which works wonders to gently break down stuck-on gunk like bird poop. To do:

  1. Mix ¼ cup baking soda in 4 cups water in a spray bottle and spritz the stain until thoroughly covered.
  2. Let sit about 10 minutes.
  3. Rinse using your hose or wipe clean with a damp cloth.

What’s the best way to clean bird poop off my windshield or windows?

This trick is solely for bird poop that’s cemented itself on your windshield or side windows, since seltzer and club soda are just about as acidic as the poop itself, and can further damage your car’s paint. However, the bubbles in club soda will safely break down and lift bird poop off glass with no problem. Important to note: Never use cola to clean poop, either on windows or paint, as it can damage paint, wax and the rubber seal around your windshield. 

  1. Pour a bit of club soda over the poop to saturate it.
  2. Let sit 3-5 minutes.
  3. Use your windshield wipers to swipe the now loosened bird poop away.

What’s the best way to clean bird poop from inside my car?

liquid detergent
Nishihama/Shutterstock

Forget to close your sunroof or convertible top? If bird poop made its way onto your car’s seats or leather interior a little laundry soap can help set things right.

  1. Unlike with your car’s paint, you’ll want to let the droppings dry completely first so you don’t smear them further into the upholstery.
  2. Once dry, drip a few drops of undiluted laundry detergent onto the stain.
  3. Pat — don’t rub — the area with a clean, damp cloth and repeat until the stain is gone.

Lindsay Bosslett is currently associate vice president and managing editor for Health Monitor Network, a patient-education print and digital publishing company. In her role there, she oversees a staff of editors and freelance writers, as well as the production of guides and magazines designed to help both patients and healthcare providers in the ever-changing point-of-care space. As a regular writer for both Woman’s World’s Organized column and First for Women’s Life Smarts page, she delivers practical, creative tips to help women make their lives easier. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys reading, hiking, gardening and attending taco festivals. She lives with her husband, two dogs and lots of bears in a little house on a hill in West Milford, N.J.


This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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