Car owners in most North American cities breathe a welcome sigh of relief as winter approaches. Not only do temperatures fall to comfortable levels – but it also takes a bite on bugs. Flying insects typically thrive when the weather is hot and humid. But when the temperatures fall – so does the flying insect population.
Bugs aren’t too keen on cold weather – and thus, those frustrating bug splatters embedded on the front end of their trucks, cars, and SUVs tend to decrease in winter. But, what about the other three seasons? How do vehicle owners efficiently remove those sticky bug guts from their grille, headlights, hood, and windshields?
There are a few proven methods for removing bug splatters, that may not cause damage to paint. However, there are also some that can leave a permanent stain on your paint, headlights, and other car parts.
So, let’s take some time to explore bug removal 101. We will provide a few professional tips for removing bug splatters and guts, and throw out a few shade-tree, home-brewed methods as well. Finally, we’ll top off this article with the best way to protect your car from sticky bug insides, which will make it simple to remove simply by washing your car.
What Damage Does Bug Splatters Have on Car Paint?
Bugs like flies, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers and more are typically the ones that find themselves embedded in your car paint due to high-speed impact. When a bug’s insides find themselves sticking to your front end, grille, headlights, or paint – it releases toxins and acids that can eat away at the surface.
Bug guts are not as acidic as bird droppings or tree sap, but they can be very difficult to remove, which means that prolonged exposure can lead to significant damage to the surface area. Some of the common damage due to bug splatters include:
Paint stains: When the bug guts are not removed within a day or two, the acids will go to work and begin to eat away at the surface area. With car paint or specifically clear coats, the acids can leave paint stains, which basically etch into the paint surface. The only way to remove these stains is through paint correction using a cutting compound and polishing cloth.
Chips: There are some instances when a bug impact will cause a chip on the surface. This happens frequently on the bumper, grille, or plastic parts on the front end. This typically happens with large flying beetles, as they have hard shells that can chip the surface before splattering.
Can You Protect Your Car for Bug Season?
As we stated above, bug splatters tend to occur in summer – as this is when most bugs thrive and begin to mate before dying when cold weather arrives. There are several shade-tree or home-brew methods that some people use to prep their rides for bug season.
Add Petroleum Jelly to the Front End
I shit you not – this is an actual thing. Some people swear by this bug-protection method, as the slickness of the petroleum jelly combined with the clear nature makes it a perfect way to protect the surface. The theory suggests that bugs will just slide off, or if they explode, their guts will be easy to remove. While this looks appealing, I wouldn’t recommend it.
So, this one is typically used for windshields and works quite well. Rain-X is basically a synthetic spray wax, that provides a slippery surface that is very hydrophobic. It helps to reduce water from sticking – which can improve visibility, but also resists bug guts from sticking too.
Install a Clear Bra
This is the best way to protect your front end from damage due to bug’s going full kamikaze. The clear bra is also known as a paint protection film or PPF. It’s a highly flexible and durable polymer material that is clear and has self-healing properties. It isn’t exceptional about removing bug guts, but you can improve that part by applying a ceramic coating on top of it – for improved hydrophobic properties.
Apply a DIY Ceramic Coating
If you’d like to provide protection against bugs causing chips, make the surface smooth and hydrophobic, and reduce the frustration of removing bug guts, consider applying a DIY ceramic coating. We’ll explore this one a bit further in the article in depth.
Methods for Removing Bug Splatters from Car Paint
So, how do you remove bugs once they decide to terminate their lives? Well, there are a few proven methods and some that are just silly. Here are some of the best ways to remove bug splatters you’re your vehicle.
Use a Bug Removal Sponge
There are several good bug removal products, including the bug removal sponge. Basically, this is a microfiber mesh product that is soft and has a hard time damaging or scratching the vehicle. The trick – however, is that you can’t use this product dry. For best results, you should use a lot of water or cleaning solution to remove the bug guts.
A Clay Mitt or Clay Bar
One of the newest products on the market is the clay mitt. Basically, it’s a clay bar – but embedded on a microfiber wash mitt. The small clay particles grasp onto the surface and do a great job of removing those hard to move and microscopic imperfections found in those hard to remove areas.
Windex and Degreasers
If you’re looking for a spray product that isn’t too harmful on your clear coats, badges, or grilles, consider using Windex glass cleaner or a degreaser. Both products are good for loosening the bug splatter debris, then washing them off with soap and a microfiber mitt.
However, if you just use Windex and a wet cloth, this can cause issues, as Windex contains ammonia, which can cause damage to unprotected surfaces. You can throw bug and tar remover products in this batch as well -- just follow their directions and wash everything it touches after you’re done.
Dryer Sheets and Water
So, this one caused me to say “HUH?!?!?” out loud when I first was told by a former co-worker. But, believe it or not, it works decently. The key to this method is to use a spray bottle with warm water, a little car wash soap, and a wet dryer sheet inserted into the spray bottle.
You’ll spray the bug splatters with this solution, let it soak for a few minutes, and wash off with a microfiber washcloth or mitt and automotive soap. You might have to put some elbow grease to accomplish this one.
You can also use a plain, wet drier sheet and rub the bug guts off the vehicle. This is a Southern US tradition.
This shit works on everything. It’s that perfect multi-purpose solution to everything it seems – that and duck-tape. The oil-based lubricant is great for breaking up sticky stuff, even bird droppings. However, the key is making sure to wash it off completely a few times; as it can be very greasy.
Can a Ceramic Coating Help Protect from Bug Splatters?
Tree sap, bug guts, bird droppings, and other sticky stuff is very difficult to remove. However, applying a ceramic coating can reduce the stress and frustration associated with this time-consuming process. A ceramic coating provides an ultra-slippery and flat surface, that is incredibly hydrophobic. This makes it quite difficult for sticky stuff to remain stuck to this very thin layer of protection.
A properly applied DIY ceramic coating also helps to protect the surface materials underneath. Tree sap, bird droppings, and other stuff can stain paint, plastic trim, even glass windshields. And in most cases, the coating will last for a few years.
It’s a great paint protection product, especially if you’re forced to park underneath trees at work, home, or wherever you travel. If you’re looking for a great DIY ceramic coating, consider Armor Shield IX. Not only does it protect the paint, but you can apply it to pretty much everything.