Tips and advice

How to remove bird poop from a car

Read our guide on how to remove this most unpleasant of substances from your car

How to remove bird poop from 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. Not only is this annoying but bird mess can actually damage paintwork if it isn’t washed off promptly and properly. 

Bird mess left for too long can cause some surprisingly costly problems to your paintwork. But how does it do this? And what’s the best way to clean it? Read on to find out.

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. If you are too aggressive in the removal process or use the wrong tool, then you can cause further damage by scratching or chipping the paintwork.

The acidity of bird droppings is often 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.

Best car cleaning tips

Autoglym’s testing 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

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 don’t use your car often, it should be checked frequently (ideally daily). This is especially important if it is parked under a tree, lamp post or similar, as these are prime locations for birds to congregate.

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 may not necessarily need to visit a professional shop. A bit of time and attention should shift these spots in most cases. If this doesn’t work, then a professional paint restorer or detailer may be needed.

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.

Read Carbuyer's guide to polishing and waxing your car, along with the best car wax to buy.

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