(Updated on December 27, 2022)
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve just washed your car. Birds seem to have a sixth sense that allows them to detect and aim for clean cars when they poop.
Before you reach for your shotgun, take heart in the fact that bird poop is usually very easy to clean off the car, as long as you get to it quickly.
The most important thing to know about cleaning bird poop off of a car is to clean it off as soon as possible. The longer you let it sit, the more likely you are to experience paint damage.
How to Clean Bird Poop Off Your Car
1) Regular Car Wash
If you catch it quickly enough, all you need to remove bird poop is a regular car wash. Wash the car normally using your favorite microfiber towels.
2) Clay Bar
Sometimes more stubborn bird poop stains call for a clay bar. Clay bars are good at removing contaminants that didn’t come out in the regular car wash.
Consider picking up a kit such as this Clay Kit from Mothers. The included instant detailer is useful for many applications, such as quick touch ups between washes.
3) Soapy Water or Quick Detailer
If you can’t get to a car wash quickly enough, you can usually get bird poop off with some mild soapy water or quick detailer and a microfiber towel. Spray the solution onto the paint, then wipe in a single motion (don’t swirl, or you risk leaving circular swirl marks behind). Follow up with a clean, dry microfiber towel.
Make sure you don’t use regular dish soap, as dish soap contains heavy degreasing agents that will strip wax from the paint, leaving the clear coat unprotected from further contamination or UV light.
4) Bug and Tar Remover
Bug and tar removers such as this product from Chemical Guys are heavy shampoos made for the toughest jobs. Use the bug and tar remover after your regular wash for best results.
Always follow the instructions on the product label, especially with more powerful chemicals. Some require you to use gloves or to re-wash the car after use to prevent further damage.
5) Homemade Bird Poop Remover
You can easily make your own bird poop remover. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in with distilled water. Shake or still well.
Once the baking soda has dissolved, spray the solution onto the paint. Rinse off the solution with water, then dry with a clean microfiber towel.
The reason this works is because bird poop is acidic (low pH) and baking soda is alkaline (high pH). The baking soda works to neutralize the bird poop and wash it away.
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Off the Bird Droppings?
Bird poop is very acidic. Over time, this acid can permanently damage the top layer of your clear coat, a process called etching.
Once the clear coat is etched, no cleaning product can remove the stain. You will have to polish the imperfection out to restore your clear coat’s mirror finish.
What to Do if Bird Poop Damages Your Car’s Paint
If you notice some permanent bird poop stains in your paint, don’t worry. Most stains come out very easily with some mild polishing. The process is similar to removing minor scratches from paint or the final step when you debadge a car.
Before you start, wash and dry the car really well. You want to remove as many contaminants as possible before you proceed. Next, use a clay bar and some quick detailing spray to remove some of the more stubborn contaminants that were not pulled out by the regular wash.
Follow the directions on the product for application. You will need some applicator pads and microfiber towels to complete the job properly. Most products work best when not applied in direct sunlight. The product will dry too quickly if it is exposed to the sun and applied on hot paint.
Can Bird Droppings Eat Through the Clear Coat?
In extreme cases, bird droppings can eat all the way through the clear coat and damage the underlying paint. This process takes a while though, and is only really caused by neglect.
This is not really a concern if you clean up the bird poop within a couple days.
How to Protect Your Car From Bird Droppings
1) Use a Garage or Car Port
Your best bet for protecting the paint from bird poop (and all other hazards) is to park it inside. While this is not always possible, indoor storage is easily one of the best ways to preserve your car long term, as it also protects your vehicle from weather.
2) Avoid Trees, Buildings, and Power Lines
If you don’t have access to a garage or car port, try not to park underneath trees, power lines, or the overhangs of nearby buildings.
While it’s not a perfect solution, your parking placement can reduce the risk of bird droppings to sheer chance of being hit by a bird flying directly overhead.
3) Use a Car Cover
If you are forced to park your vehicle outside, consider using a quality car cover. Your cover would then take the hit where your car would’ve otherwise been carpet bombed by a passing flock.