Best Bug and Tar Removers: Clean and Protect Your Paint

Keep your car looking beautiful and protect your paint with these top bug and tar cleaners

byAndra DelMonico, Daniel Rika|
Cleaning & Detailing photo

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BYAndra DelMonico, Daniel Rika/ LAST UPDATED ON April 29, 2021

You can scrub your car until your arms get tired, and the bugs and tar will still be there. Simply washing your car with soap and water isn't enough. You need to break out the serious products to get these stubborn particles off of your vehicle’s paint, but you don’t want to use just any cleaner. You need something that will be tough on the bugs and tar but gentle on your car’s paint. Try one of these removers in your car to keep it looking show ready.

Best Overall
CarPro Tar X Tar and Adhesive Remover

CarPro Tar X Tar and Adhesive Remover


This fast-acting formula removes tar, asphalt, adhesive, and bug debris from the surface of your car. This product also glows in the dark.


This is a non-hazardous formula that is derived from orange peels. It can also protect and decontaminate the metal and paint to avoid rust.


The bottle this product comes in isn’t the most secure and can leak. You’ll need to scrape and scrub hard to remove stubborn spots.

Best Value

3D Auto Detailing Products Bug Remover

This cleaner uses enzymes to loosen stuck-on debris such as bugs or tree sap. You spray the formula on, let it sit, and then rinse.
You can use this cleaner on a wide variety of surfaces, including windows, plastic, grilles, and paint. It’s also effective at removing stains.

Be careful of the paint you use it on because it can etch some motorcycle paint. It’s concentrated, so it’s easy to over or under dilute the formula.

Honorable Mention

McKee's 37 Road Kill Bug Remover


The advanced formula of this remover is safe for your clear coat. Spray this cleaner on and wipe it off, no rinsing required. You can also add it to a cleaning solution for easier washing.


The formula won’t remove durable waxes, so your car will stay protected and you won’t have to wax as often. The concentrated formula works fast.

This product isn’t as effective as other removers. It works best with the sponge that is sold separately. It can remove some bugs, but stubborn ones like lovebugs won’t budge.

This one-liter bottle of professional-grade car cleaner will last through plenty of detailings. It’s effective at removing bugs, adhesive, asphalt, and tar. With regular use, you can prevent your paint’s breakdown or failure from exposure to harmful chemicals. The neutralizing formula prevents rust and corrosion. This cleaner stands out because it’s non-hazardous. The formula is made from orange peels. It’s safe for use on surfaces other than your vehicle. It’s even safe for use on your tires. Once sprayed on, it will work quickly and efficiently to remove contaminants from the surface of your vehicle. 

Unfortunately, the spray bottle isn’t durable and can begin to leak. Don’t be aggressive when spraying, and keep the bottle stored upright to avoid yours from leaking. Stubborn spots may require you to scrape or scrub them off.

This bug remover comes in a 16-ounce bottle or one-gallon jug. The enzymes contained in it work fast to loosen and remove bugs or tree sap from your car’s paint. This is a spray and rinse formula, so you shouldn’t have to scrub. You can use it on your paint, plastic, windows, and grille. It’s safe for use on cars, boats, motorcycles, and RVs. What’s nice about this product is that if you don't have the ability to wash, it’s okay. You can wipe your car clean with a microfiber cloth. 

You’ll want to be careful when using this cleaner. The concentrated formula can make it easy to over or under mix your formula. This can make your cleaner too strong or weak. You'll also want to do a test spot. This cleaner can etch some motorcycle paint.

This bug remover is nice because you don’t have to rinse your vehicle. You can spray it on and wipe it off. It comes in three sizes, 16, 22, and 128 ounces. The two small sizes come in a convenient spray bottle for easier application. The largest size comes in a jug, which makes it perfect for refilling your smaller bottle. What makes this remover stand out is that it’s safe for clear coats, chrome, glass, paint, rubber, and plastic. Your sensitive wax finish will stay safely in place. You can also add this remover to your wash bucket for easy removal while washing your car.

Unfortunately, you may find that this remover doesn’t do much for stubborn bugs. It also works best with a sponge that’s sold separately. 

This bug and tar remover comes in three sizes, 16, 64, and 128-ounce bottles.  This pre-wash will safely remove the stuck-on tar, bugs, tree sap, grime, and bird droppings. This makes it easier to wash your car. What makes this formula stand out is that it’s concentrated. You only need one capful for a gallon of water. This means a single bottle will last for a very long time. This is important because long term use will prevent paint damage. It can also help prevent staining in your clear coat. It’s safe for use on glass, chrome, aluminum, plastic, and many more surfaces.

Unfortunately, none of the bottles come with a spray nozzle. This makes the application more difficult as you’ll need to pour it into a bucket with water. 

This 16-ounce can of bug and tar remover has a spray-on formula. Once sprayed, it turns into a  fluffy foam that clings to the surface of your vehicle. It then penetrates and dissolves the contaminants on your vehicle’s surface. You can use this spray to remove bugs, tar, and tree sap. What’s nice about this spray is that it has a wide-angle spray for plenty of even coverage. It is safe to use this remover on your paint, grille, headlights, and glass. You’ll appreciate how fast this remover works. Just wait one minute after application and then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. 

Unfortunately, some stubborn tree sap may not budge with this spray. It could also require a bit of scrubbing to remove. You may also need multiple applications for thorough clean removal. 


  • Before you apply anything to your car’s paint, double-check that it’s safe to use. You don’t want to use a cleaning product that’s so strong that it etches your clear coat. This will leave you with a dull look and eat away at the protection of your paint. 
  • Check the ingredients to make sure that they’re not hazardous. Some cleaners use powerful cleaning agents to break down bugs, and these chemicals may be harmful to you, your family, or pets. Other cleaning agents use more natural products, such as enzymes or orange peel extract. 
  • Pay attention to what the cleaner is designed for. Enzymes work well on natural matter, such as bugs or tree sap. Tar can be harder to remove, so look for one with specialized solvents for this purpose. 


Q: Can I use WD40 to clean bugs and tar off my car?

A: You can use WD40, but it isn’t meant for this purpose. Since it’s not specifically designed for removing bugs, it can potentially damage your paint. It also won’t work as well. Use a formula meant for removing bugs, and follow the directions so that you don’t risk the cleaner eating into your clear coat. 

Q: How does tar remover work?

A: There are chemicals in tar remover that break down the compounds in the tar. Spray the cleaner on the tar, and then let it sit. Over time, the cleaner breaks down the tar. Then you can wipe the tar or its stain away. Be sure to rinse the area clean. Doing it this way reduces the need for you to scrub, which will scratch your paint. 

Q: Can I use the cleaner on other surfaces?

A: Yes, you can use bug and tar remover on several surfaces. You can use it on other vehicles such as motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, RVs, and boats. Always do a test area before you start to clean the entire surface. Then make sure you rinse the cleaned area to remove any residue after the application. 

Final Thoughts

The Tar X Tar and Adhesive Remover 500 Milliliter with Sprayer uses a safe and non-toxic formula to clean your car. The 3D Auto Detailing Products Bug Remover is an affordable option that provides a powerful formula to break down bugs and tar.

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