The Garage Cars 101

Why You Should Clean Bird Poop Off Your Car ASAP

Bird poop is way more acidic that human poop.
Andrew Collins Photoshop

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No matter where you live, our avian friends roam the skies, eat whatever they like, and then subsequently expel waste all over your and others’ beautiful rides. It’s a natural phenomenon, sure, but that doesn’t make it any less gross. Still, no matter how nasty it can be, it’s the owner’s responsibility to clean it up quickly. 

For many, bird poop on car paint is just an annoying fact of life, but in reality, it is harmful to the paint of a vehicle. Before it does any damage, it should be cleaned off as soon as possible. Let me explain why.

Why Is Bird Poop So Bad for Paint?

Unlike mammals, birds do not have separate exits for solids and liquids. Instead, birds have one hole, a cloaca, that excretes both solid and liquid waste in one sort of integrated form that has two distinct parts. The solid green or black part is bird poop. The white part is uric acid, essentially the bird’s urine.

The uric acid in bird poop is far more concentrated than the urea found in mammalian urine. By comparison, human urine tends to sit around the 6.0 to 7.5 range on the pH scale. Bird poop is far more acidic, somewhere in the 3.0 to 4.5 range. Unlike mammalian urine which is watery and can easily flow away, or be washed away with water, bird poop is sticky and pasty, allowing it to linger for a very long time on surfaces. Add in the acidity, and it becomes very easy for bird poop to do serious damage to a vehicle’s paint.

Bird poop on an Acura RSX.

What Kind of Damage?

Bird poop’s high acidity can mar clear coat. The poop eats through the layer that gives paint its shine, which could lead to an ugly, nasty dull blotch on the car’s finish. That type of damage is able to be repaired by polishing products, but not all can be. If the bird poop has sat too long, it will completely eat through the clear coat, down to the base layer. This means the body panel will need paint repair work, not just a polish.

How To Clean Bird Poop Off Your Car

To mitigate paint damage, clean off bird droppings as soon as possible. The longer the poop sits, the more you risk irreversibly etching the paint job. Weather is your friend in this situation, as a car covered in poop sitting in the shade or in cool weather will likely fare better than one sitting in direct sunlight in hot weather. In sunlight, the uric acid will just bake right into the paint job, and removal will be far harder.

Cleaning bird poop off isn’t hard. Just use water, a microfiber towel, and any car-safe soap. Wipe it away, rinse it down, and don’t scrub. The goal is to gently wipe the poop away, not scratch paint or embed the acid deep into the clear coat. Be deliberate with your wipe and lift up and away as the towel collects the droppings. With each wipe, fold the towel over and only wipe with a new clean area of the towel. The last thing you want is to rub seeds from the poop into the paint and scratch it.

Bird poop on a silver car.

How Do I Repair Paint Damaged by Bird Droppings?

Although bird poop is acidic and can damage paint, it’s not exactly on the same level as hydrochloric acid or paint stripper. A vehicle’s paint job has layers, usually consisting of primer, a base coat, and a clear coat on top. For many, a paint correction is necessary to fix the damage done by acidic bird poop. It might also be possible to remove the mark with a quick polish.

If the bird poop has destroyed the clearcoat and affected the base coat, talk to a body shop. They’ll have the tools needed for deeper repairs that require paint and blending. 

If you prefer video to written words, here’s what TikTok famous detailer Jessica Tran said about cleaning and repairing the damage from bird poop.


You can find all of these products at car supplies warehouse; link in bio. Ask me any questions in the comments ❤️‍🔥

♬ original sound – Jessica Tran

Bird poop is more than just an annoying fact of life. It can do real harm to paint. Don’t let it sit and clean it off ASAP with soap and water.

Kevin Williams Avatar

Kevin Williams


Kevin Williams is a contributor at The Drive. He writes, researches, and produces off-kilter, less-traveled car content, usually about weird or a bit unloved cars from not so long ago. He lives in Columbus, Ohio. Alone. By himself. No spouse. No animals.  (He is allergic to most domestic animals.)