How to remove bird poop from a car
Read our guide on how to remove this most unpleasant of substances from your car
We've all spent ages cleaning our car to a lovely mirror finish only to have our hard work ruined by the unsightly splatter of bird droppings. As well as being unpleasant and annoying, bird mess can actually damage paintwork, with potential repair bills in the hundreds or even thousands of pounds in the worst cases.
Time is of the essence, because the longer droppings sit on the paintwork, the more chance they have of causing costly problems. But why does bird mess damage paintwork? And what’s the best way to remove it safely?
How can bird droppings damage a car?
When bird droppings are removed from paintwork, they can leave a dull, cloudy mark, and even a visible ripple in the paint’s surface in the worst-case scenario. It’s also possible to make matters worse by scratching the paintwork in the removal process, either by being too aggressive or using the wrong tool.
For many years, the acidity of bird droppings has been blamed for the ‘etching’ effect they can have on paintwork. Recent research carried out by car detailing specialist Autoglym, however, has come up with another reason.
In its testing, it was found that as the top layer of paint lacquer warms during the day, it softens and expands, while bird droppings instead dry and become hard. Later on, when the lacquer cools and contracts, it can mould to the texture of the hardened bird mess, leaving a troublesome impression on the surface.
While the effect might be fairly slight, only a small imperfection is needed to create a visible dull patch that stands out against the shiny paint next to it.
How to remove bird mess safely
As we’ve mentioned, speed of removal is the most important factor in preventing damage, and according to Autoglym’s theory, this is especially important on sunny or hot days when the lacquer is at its softest. If you drive your car every day, you’ll have a good chance of spotting any offending droppings quickly and taking swift action.
If you use your car less regularly but it’s still parked outside, it’s worth having a quick look over it on a daily basis. For vehicles left outdoors for longer periods, a car cover is the most sensible and surefire solution. It can also be worth trying to avoid parking under trees, street lights and the eaves of buildings if your car seems to attract bird mess.
The key to easy and safe removal is to use water to ensure the droppings are soft. This is most easily achieved by placing a damp cloth or car cleaning wipe over the offending area and leaving it in place for a few minutes. Once you’ve done this, you should find it comes away from the surface easily.
Always avoid pressing hard, or using a rubbing or scraping motion to dislodge the droppings; if not all of it is removed first time, simply place another damp cloth or cleaning wipe over the spot again and repeat this process until everything has gone.
It’s advisable to wear disposable gloves when tackling this job and, of course, to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
What if my car is already damaged?
If the paintwork already has dull spots from bird mess, you can usually deal with them yourself with a little time and attention. More extreme cases may require the help of a car detailing company or paint restoration expert.
If you want to try to correct the paint at home, the first step is to wash the car to ensure it’s clean. Once it’s dry, apply a lightly abrasive car polish to the affected area, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This should gently remove the damaged top layer of paintwork, exposing the fresh paint below for a better finish.
Once it's polished, ensure you cover the panel with a wax or sealant to protect it from the elements. If the condition of the paint is very poor, an expert will be able to assess the damage and use the correct products along with tools such as orbital polishers to get a satisfactory result.