How to Remove Bugs Off Your Car
Summer is the best time of year for long cruises to clear your mind, cruise nights, and road trips to make memories with your family. It is also the worst time of year in most of the country for bugs and other flying nuisances that will make a mess of your perfectly clean car. The front of your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle is like a snow plow for catching bugs and it is not just your front bumper. Bugs can beat up your grill, windshield, mirrors, and lights and if this isn’t cleaned off quickly it can be a pain to address later.
With summer being the hottest part of the year, time is of the essence in removing this bug splatter. Bugs splatter that sits too long can eat into the finishes of your paint, grille, headlights, and even chew up your windshield. Bugs are full of acid much like bird droppings and when they splatter across your vehicle’s surface during that hot time of year they bake in and create blistering. Bugs can even chip your paint and clear coat as many insects have hard shells and it is like a rock crashing into your car at driving speeds.
What to do When Bugs Splatter on Your Car
Of course, you cannot always instantly wash your car after you go for a ride or even for several days but we recommend making the effort to do it sooner than later. We always rinse and clean our whole car or SUV but you can also spot treat and clean the bug-beaten areas if that is all time allows for. Cleaning bugs off of your vehicle is not rocket science but there are some tips and products we recommend that can make the process a lot less difficult. Good old elbow grease can go a long way as well!
What Do You Need to Remove Bugs from Your Car
Again, washing bug carcasses off of your car is not rocket science so don’t overthink it. We recommend gathering the following supplies to help the cleaning process go more smoothly.
Bug Washing Supplies:
- Car Shampoo
- Car Wash Buckets
- Microfiber Wash Mitt
- Microfiber Towels
- Soft Detailing Brushes
- Bug & Tar Remover or an APC (All Purpose Cleaner)
- Bug Removal Towel
- Car Polish
- Paint Sealant or Car Wax
- Plastic Razor Blade
If you have a pressure washer that can help cut down on the time it takes to clean up the bugs on your car but it is not completely necessary. A regular garden hose will do just fine!
How to Get Started Removing Bugs from Your Car
First things first when you want to get your car tidied up is a good wash. You could start by rinsing your vehicle off with your hose or power washer. This is a great way to soften up and knock down some of the bugs splattered across the front of your car. At GloveBox we like to add in a couple of extra steps to make the big cleaning process a little easier.
First Step in Cleaning Bugs on Your Car
When we get a vehicle that has an unhealthy amount of bug guts layered on it we start by treating the affected areas with a big cleaner or APC to help loosen them up. We usually let the bug cleaner work and dwell on the surface for 30 seconds to a minute so it can do its thing. We do not like to let it sit too long in direct sun so tighten up the dwell time if it is too hot around 10-15 seconds. We also like a good All Purpose Cleaner if you do not have a bug wash on hand. You can saturate the bugs on your paint, chrome, glass, lights, and everything in between so don’t be shy about using your products on this step.
After we have let the bug wash dwell we will rinse the entire vehicle and do our best to blast off the loose bugs and debris on the vehicle. The stubborn sections will get a deeper treatment later on.
Washing Bugs Off of Your Car is the Next Step
Washing your car with a high-quality soap is the next big step in cleaning the wasteland of bug lives off of your car. We always like to start with a foam cannon and pretreat the entire vehicle with a high-quality car shampoo. Much like the bug remover wash we did in the beginning we will let the foamy suds rest on the vehicle for a couple of minutes to continue working into the stubborn spots on the vehicle. You can also use a foam gun that connects to your garden hose if you do not have a foam cannon and pressure washer. It will be a little runnier but will also get the job done.
Once you have let the snowy foam sit you should rinse the entire vehicle one more time so you can begin your contact wash. We really like the two bucket wash method or the single bucket method with lots of wash mitts as both of these techniques help cut down on the potential of dragging your dirty wash mitts across the car. Two buckets allow you to have your soapy car wash bucket and another bucket of clean water to rinse your mitts as you clean. While this is a great method we also like using several wash mitts in the same soap bucket and grabbing a new mitt after you have washed each panel. This is again a great way to reduce the risk of dragging dirt, grease, rocks, bugs, and other contaminants across your paint. The other important piece of car washing gear we include in every bucket is a grit guard. This acts as a filter for your bucket and forces the dirt and debris to stay on the bottom of your bucket and not on your wash mitt.
When we hand wash any vehicle we start on the top of the vehicle and work our way down so the dirt slides down the car and off of the freshly cleaned panel. Once you wash the entire vehicle we recommend focusing your efforts on the remaining bugs with more of a direct approach.
This is where a bug removal towel is great and can cut down on the time it takes to finish the job. The bug towel has a mesh-type fabric that is a mild abrasive and mechanically will remove the bugs and bug guts from your paint, chrome, lights, and glass. You can also use Stoner Bug Eraser Wipes or something like it to focus on your tough bugs. They are like a napkin that you wet and they contain a softening agent to help scrub away the bugs and guts.
After you have spot-cleaned the bugs that were hanging on we like to wash the surface one more time. This removes any bug remains and residual cleaners left from your spot cleaning. If there happen to be any slight contaminants left over we will go to our clay bar or clay towel using a clay lube and decontaminate the area if your car is not ceramic coated or you could remove the coating on your car. This mechanical decontamination will create a clean surface that you can now lightly polish if needed and most importantly add a layer of protection.
Your windshield or a chrome bumper is probably the easiest section of your car to clean. This again is where the big removal towel comes in handy or a plastic razor blade that you can use to scrape the bugs off of the surface. This is safe as well for paint but may cause marring or scratches and we do not like risking that. The plastic razor is hard enough to scrape the bugs off but will not hurt your glass or chrome. It makes short work of the bugs and bug guts and is a great and fast solution to clean things up.
The Final Step in Preventing Bug Splatter From Sticking
We like protecting our vehicles from the elements and in this case from bugs. We really like using protection on our paint, glass, and bumpers to help make the cleaning process easier. A good quality paint sealant and even wax is a great way to prevent bugs from adhering to the surfaces of your car and will make cleaning up if you wash your car often a very easy process, even if it is covered in dead bugs. Of course, ceramic and graphene coatings are ideal but not everyone has the pocketbook or time for that so we are big fans of spray sealants that include ceramic or graphene. One of our recent favorites is a great drying aid that helps lubricate your vehicle while you dry it. On top of that, it adds a layer of ceramic protection that helps bead water, prevents dirt and bugs from sticking, and makes follow-up washes much easier. The best part is you are protecting your car and drying it all in one easy step.
Our August 2021 GloveBox included many of these supplies in it to help with bug removal, protecting from bugs splatter, and overall making it easier to tend to seasonal issues like this. We include a bug wash, bug removal towel, ceramic drying aid and protectant, and a solid drying towel to help make a great package for bug cleaning and protection. If you are interested in a great car detail subscription service give GloveBox a chance. You never know when we will throw something big into the mix so subscribe and become part of the GloveBox team today!