We sometimes leave our truck under the trees in the driveway, and occasionally a little bird poop gets on the roof and hood. I’m pretty good at wiping it off fast – but can it cause lasting damage to the paintwork?
Bird poop contains uric acid and has a pH level of 3 or 4, meaning it can cause lasting damage to the paintwork on your car. The damage can start immediately after the poop lands on your vehicle, so the quicker you wipe it off the better.
Let’s dive down into this unsavory subject in more detail, and discover more about the three different types of bird poop damage, how to clean them off – and how to stop those avian aggressors from pooping on your auto in the first place…
Does Bird Poop Burn Car Paint?
If you got acid on your car, would you expect it to burn the paintwork? Of course you would, and because bird poop is acidic, unfortunately you get a similar result.
Bird poop contains uric acid (basically, the avian version of urine that’s mixed with their poop, as birds don’t really pee). It has a pH level of 3 or 4, which is pretty acidic when you consider neutral is pH 7.
To make things even worse, uric acid will only partially dissolve in water. So, if those pesky birds have pooped on your vehicle, you’ll need to clean it off pretty fast, and using more than simple H2O.
The Three Types of Bird Poop Damage
There are different types of bird poop damage, and they need treating in different ways. So we’re sorry, but you are going to need to peer closely at the latest offerings to work out how best to tackle them… The main three types of bird poop damage are:
This is the easiest type (yes, we do give ratings to bird poop). Apparently, most of the damage caused by bird poop happens in the first couple of days, so if you act fast, you can really help your paintwork. At this stage, it’s less “damage” and more “unsightly mess”.
Fractured or Wrinkled Etching
OK, this is less good news. Etching happens when the bird droppings have had a chance to settle and start to damage the paintwork. Heat doesn’t help, as the sun kind of bakes the poop onto your car roof or hood.
Wrinkled poop is more textured than a splatty poop (we’re so sorry to go into this much detail about feces!), usually because it has things like seeds in it. There’s the added problem of scratching with seedy poop.
Topical Stain Etching
If the etching isn’t too deep but there’s still a stain, this is just a topical mark. These stains can vary in removal difficulty.
So how can you remove these marks without causing any further damage to the paintwork? In extreme cases, you may need to take your car to a bodywork pro. However, on most occasions, you should be able to remove the poop yourself, and we’ll take a look at that now.
How Do You Safely Get Bird Poop Off Car Paint?
So, you need to remove bird poop without damaging the paintwork? There are several ways to safely do this, and we’ll take you through them one at a time.
While we’re talking about safety, it’s also worth remembering that some bird poop can carry nasty bacteria. Wear gloves, and wash any equipment down thoroughly when you’ve finished cleaning.
Baking Soda Method
We love this stuff, and among its many uses, it’s great at dealing with bird poop on cars. Here’s what you do:
- Get a clean spray bottle and fill it with hot water
- Mix in 3 tablespoons of soda with a drop of dish soap
- Spray it onto the poop and leave it for a few minutes
- Rinse with the hosepipe (wiping baking soda can scratch)
Seltzer Water Method
Yes, this works too, as the carbonation eats the uric acid. Please don’t substitute seltzer water or club soda with cola or other fizzy drink. They may be carbonated but they’re also acidic…
- Pour the seltzer water or club soda straight onto the poop
- Leva it for one minute
- Wipe it off with a wet cloth or sponge
We always knew it: WD-40 can be used for anything. This is a great method for dry bird poop removal, and also for cleaning it off in the winter, when water can simply freeze before it’s done any good.
- Spray the WD-40 onto the poop
- Leave it for a minute
- Wipe it with a wet cloth or sponge
Commercial Bird Poop Removers
You can pick these up easily at home stores or online. These are generally quick and safe ways to remove bird poop without causing any damage.
Here’s a short film that shows you how to use a bird poop removal spray to clean your car These are just some of the brands available, and you may prefer to use a different make; however, Jeremy has lots of useful tips about getting the perfect, clean finish.
Use a Bird Poop Wipe
These are a thing. Buy a pack of these purpose-made wipes for quick and easy cleaning. Keep a pack in your trunk for longer journeys
Liquid Laundry Soap Method
Bad luck: a bird has scored a direct hit on the roof of your soft top. Even worse, your roof was open, and the poop is now splattered across your upholstery. This isn’t such a quick job as removing poop from the paintwork, but it can be done. Here’s how you do it:
- Remove as much poop as possible with a plastic scraper
- Drop a bit of the soap directly onto the poopy areas
- With a damp cloth, gently pat the area
- Gently scrub the area until it froths
- Rinse with a clean damp cloth, and clean until no froth remains
- Leave the washed areas to air dry. Ideally somewhere where you’re not under an avian flight path…
If you suspect that the mark has become etched into your paintwork, seek advice from your local valet or body shop. You may need to have it professionally removed to protect your paintwork. Speed is the key: wipe off that poop as soon as you spot it, and not only will the job be easier, but it should prevent any damage to the paint.
But as we all know, prevention can be better than cure…
Summary: How Do You Prevent Bird Poop Getting On Your Car?
The best way to prevent bird poop from getting on your paintwork is to keep the car covered, one way or another.
If you have a garage, parking your car inside will reduce the amount of time your car’s exposed to the sky. Yes, you may get a direct hit from a passing pigeon while you’re in an outdoor parking lot, but indoor parking will reduce the risk. A carport should help too, unless the pesky birds start roosting in the rafters…
Car covers can be an excellent solution. These protect your entire car from poop, debris, and the elements, and unlike a garage or carport, there’s no way a bird can sneak inside.
What is a car cover? It’s simply a snug-fitting waterproof cover that fits over your vehicle. If you’ve covered your grill or patio sofa, it’s very like that, but on a grand scale. Car covers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to fit most models of motor.
Most have some sort of elastic hem to anchor the car cover in place if it’s windy. Some covers also come with straps for extra-firm fitting during high winds.
There are many advantages to a cover. You can park anywhere, even under trees, and know that no poop will land on your bodywork. If you’re going away, you can take the cover with you, and you can even use it during the day while you’re at work.
What happens if the cover gets poop on it? Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the cover. Don’t risk trying any old method, as you don’t want to damage the waterproofing on the cover.
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >