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Get The Sap Out!

Tree sap and pine tar can cause a sticky mess on all your outdoor surfaces. Both substances are vital for the trees that produce them. But we don’t want them all over anything else! As irritating as they are, though, there are some simple ways to clean them up.

Before we start, we want to say we’ve found many ways that work to remove sap. They use a variety of household chemicals. That means you won’t have to run out and buy something special! 

A rag and a soft-bristled toothbrush come in handy, too. And some elbow grease is a definite requirement!

Both sap and pine tar can leave stains, but these same care steps can remove or minimize any lasting effect. Of course, catching these gooey drops before they have time to set makes it easier to keep your surface looking great!

Removing Sap From Your Car, Tables, And Other Nonporous Surfaces

Seeing sap on your car is infuriating. It’s not much better when it’s on a table, the floor of your deck, or any other surface.

In many ways, sap is easier to get off a hard surface. It can’t work its way into the material. Instead, it simply sits on the surface.

But cleaning it off still takes a special touch. You don’t want to damage the surface. But you do have to work hard enough to remove this stubborn mess.

Rubbing alcohol is one of the best solutions to remove sap. And in small amounts, it’s even safe on a car’s paint job.

Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or microfiber cloth and slowly rub in small circles. Add more alcohol as needed. 

This process may remove the wax, but it won’t hurt the paint! Remember: slow and steady wins the race. Being deliberate and not rushed will help keep you from damaging the surface.

You can use the same method for other hard surfaces like wood and plastic. Most of us aren’t as concerned about these as we are about the car, so you can use a paint scraper or ice scraper to remove any raised drop of pine tar or sap. Then begin rubbing with alcohol.

Mineral spirits or hand sanitizer that contains alcohol also work well. If you use any of these, wash the area with soap and water afterward, then rinse away residual cleaning agents.

Dish detergent or laundry detergent can often get the job done, too.

tree sap is a natural product of a living tree, but it can be a sticky mess on your patio

Removing Sap From Fabrics

When sap gets onto fabric furniture covers or other soft surfaces, it can sink in a bit. That means it may also take a little more effort to make sure you get it all out, though.

First, use a spoon to scrape off any excess.

For clothing or removable seat covers,  pre-treat them with regular laundry detergent. Then run it through a normal laundry cycle.

You could also try rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. However, these may discolor your material. Test either of these first on a hidden part of the material!

On the other hand, you can’t remove every item to wash. When that’s the case, use a bit of laundry detergent or stain remover mixed in a cup of water. Apply a small amount to the spot. 

Let it stand for about five minutes, then use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub it. Then rinse with clean water. 

Getting Sap Off Your Hands

Of course, anytime you’re working around trees or bushes in your yard, you’re bound to end up with sap or pine tar on your hands. Here too, hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol work great! They work more effectively and quickly than regular hand soap.

Goo Gone is fantastic, too, but don’t feel like you have to run out and get it. If it’s handy, though, go for it!


Pine tar is great for baseball bats. Tree sap is marvelous when it’s coursing through a tree. But you don’t want either of them on your car, chairs, or clothes. Luckily, you only need common cleaners and a little work to clean up! 

About Us

Tom and Sarah Greenwood are the dynamic duo behind “Yards Improved,” dedicated to the joys and challenges of gardening, pool maintenance, and lawn and patio care. With Tom’s passion for landscape design and Sarah’s enthusiastic approach to gardening, they share their journey of transforming their backyard into a thriving retreat. We strive to offer practical advice aimed at helping you enhance your outdoor space.