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All of us have experienced it, perhaps you just washed your car and a bird left your black and white present on your newly washed car. Or perhaps you picked just the wrong spot to park your car and a flock of birds decided to relieve themselves on your car. Birds leave droppings on our cars all the time; dealing with the problem is easy. Most people would go get some water and wipe the bird dropping with whatever rag or paper towel they can find. Something so innocuous can actually cause damage to your car’s paint.
If you know how to properly clean bird poo off your car’s paint, you won’t have to worry about creating scratches in your car’s paint. It doesn’t take much more effort to properly clean off bird poo, so its worth doing every time you encounter bird droppings on your car.
Why is Bird Poop Bad for your Car’s Paint?
Unlike humans, birds excrete their urine and feces out of a single location. This is what you might see all the time outside: some combination of white and dark “bird poo”. Unfortunately the bird’s combination of poo and pee is quite bad to our car’s paint. The poo itself is usually comprised of little bits of rocks, sticks, seeds, etc. The urine is uric acid, which can etch into your car’s clear coat and base coat depending on how long it is left on the vehicle.
The combination of an acid that causes more damage chemically and the physical contaminants of the poo particles creates the perfect cocktail to potentially cause permanent damage to your car’s paint.
The sooner you can remove the bird droppings from your car, the better. The longer you leave it on your vehicle (especially under the hot sun), there is more chance of the uric acid baking into your clear coat causing surface or topical etching. This may be able to be polished out if the damage is not severe. If you leave it even longer, it may chemically etch further into your base coat and potentially cause even more damage especially with the expansion and contraction of the uric acid within the paint. If it gets to this point, it may not be able to be repaired and will need to be resprayed to take care of the damage.
When you do remove bird droppings from your vehicle, there is a proper technique to doing so to minimize rubbing the particles from the poo portion of the droppings. It may be easy to go the convenient route, which is to use some water and grab a nearby rag or paper towel to scrub the bird poo away. This action will essentially scrub those physical particles all around that area leaving scratches in your car’s finish.
Tools & Materials
Sometimes, you can get away with just spraying down the bird droppings with a garden hose. However, there are many times when water alone won’t get it completely clean. Bird droppings typically won’t require you to use any aggressive cleaning solutions. Some car wash soap mixed with water, or any quick detailer/ONR (Optimum No-Rinse) mixture will do. Even using spray wax or any kind of solution that acts like a lubricant is great for this purpose.
Microfiber towels are a mainstay in detailing. With cleaning bird droppings, microfiber towels are ideal for removing and suspending the particles that might scratch the car’s paint.
How to Safely Remove Bird Poop
The most important concept that you should understand with removing bird droppings (or any other contaminants for that matter), is that you want no to little abrasion with the car’s finish. Wiping your car’s finish with a paper towel and/or without lubrication like water, is likely to cause scratches. So the goal is to always ensure that there is enough lubrication, and to use a microfiber towel. This will allow enough lubrication to prevent friction, and the microfiber towel will grab and suspend the particles within its fibers to prevent scratching.
Sometimes if you clean off bird droppings right away, you can get away with just hosing off the affected area with water.
However, if the bird droppings stayed on the paint surface for any prolonged period of time, it will still leave some residue behind. The hose may have been able to use the pressure of the water to spray off the visible bird droppings, but the residue left behind will require some cleaning solution to completely remove.
As you can see above, even though the bird poop was sprayed off with water, you can still see the residue left behind. This would require cleaning with a cleaning solution (see directions below).
In my experience, bird droppings won’t normally wash away completely with just water, unless you managed to spray it off the moment the bird relieved itself on your car. I’d recommend spray the bird poo with a spray bottle of cleaning solution (be it car wash pre-mixed with water, quick detailer, ONR, or spray wax). The pressure of the spray nozzle will break up the poo particles and usually will take care of the majority of bird droppings if they were cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time.
It may require several tries, but the spray bottle should typically get the majority of the bird poo off. It might help to keep the microfiber towel right at the base of the affected area so that when you spray, everything drips down onto the towel.
The rest of the bird poo can be wiped off with the microfiber towel. Again, it is critical to never wipe the affected area if it is dry. Ensure there is plenty of spray solution on the area when wiping to prevent scratching the paint.
When wiping the area with the microfiber towel, use a motion where you wipe but pull away from the surface at the same time. It can also be compared to a lifting motion, as in lifting up and away from the paint surface. Always use a new portion of the towel to wipe. This will keep you from re-applying the contaminants you wiped off, from being wiped back on.
After you’ve wiped away the bird droppings, spray down the area one more time and use a clean section of the microfiber towel to wipe one final time. After you’re finished, check your work. Make sure the droppings are all removed and that there is no remaining residue. When you’ve verified that you removed all the droppings, go rinse the microfiber towel with water to remove what you can before placing the towel in the wash.
Getting Rid of More Stubborn Bird Droppings
Sometimes, the bird droppings are just so stuck on the paint surface that just spraying cleaner and wiping with a microfiber towel over the area is simply not enough. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that the solution is not to rub harder. This may make things worse; remember that you want lubrication, and as little abrasion as possible. You should let the cleaning solution do its job, and that is to help lift off the bird droppings from the car’s paint.
To make things easier, it might help to spray some cleaning solution onto the bird droppings and leave a piece of Saran wrap or plastic bag right over the area. Let it sit for a few minutes and then pull it off. Try spraying the area with lubricant again and then wiping/lifting away with a microfiber towel again. This will usually take care of the more difficult bird droppings.