How to Remove Bird Poop from Your Car Safely
There is very little else in life that will get you as angry and frustrated as when you come out and see your freshly washed car, your pride and joy, which you had just spent hours cleaning, just after getting crapped on by a pesky bird or Pigeon! At times it can seem as if the birds have been watching you all morning, waiting for that perfect time when you have just finished, and the second you turn your back…PLOP.
Sometimes I could swear that it is intentional, and I can almost hear them laughing behind my back.
As annoying as it is, it’s one of those things that you can never really totally avoid. It will happen to you, probably quite often (very often in my case ), so you must know that there are Do’s (Do Do’s ) and Don’ts when it comes to removing bird droppings quickly and safely from your cars paintwork because if you get it wrong, it can cause all sorts of damage.
Let’s take a look at why Bird Poo is bad for your cars paint and what the best course of action you can take when the inevitable happens.
Why you Don’t want Bird Poop on your Car
1)It Looks Terrible
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I absolutely cannot stand looking at my car when it is covered in unsightly bird shits! Paint damage aside, It does bug me to the point where I cannot look at the car without whispering “fuck sake!” to myself every time I see it on the paintwork.
It completely ruins the look of a clean car. Your car can be the most expensive luxury car and bird droppings can make it look cheap and dirty.
Bird droppings on your car give the impression that you do not care about your car enough to keep it clean – whereas you and I know both if you are reading this blog that could not be further from the truth.
2)Bird Poop Will Damage the Paintwork
Bird dumps are acidic (pH 3.5 to 4.5). They contain Uric Acid and Uric Acid is corrosive enough to eat past a coating of wax or paint sealant and then begin to etch your car’s paint. The longer the bird droppings remain, the greater the damage.
The scary thing is, it does not take long AT ALL for the damage to start on the paint of the car. It could even be less than 10 minutes. The damage is slower acting in temperatures under 40°F, but if your vehicle sits out in the hot summer sun, the damage is completely exacerbated.
Heated by the sun, your clear coat softens and expands to solidify the bird turd on the paint surface, penetrating the paint matrix. The longer the bird poo remains, the harder it becomes to remove. The result is scars, or indentations, in the clear coat that we call etchings
What are Paint Etchings Caused by Bird Poo?
Etchings are defects that occur in your cars paintwork. Two main types of etchings can be caused by bird poo
1)Type I ( Topical ) Bird Dropping Topical Stain Etching
Type I Stain Etchings are usually only topical, that is shallow enough that they can be completely removed by using a safe removal method ( which I will talk about in more detail below ) or at least greatly improved to the point where they are difficult to see.
This type of etching can be removed using a clear coat safe compound or polish by hand or machine polisher.
2)Type II Bird Dropping Fractured Wrinkled Etching
These are the type of etchings you don’t want . ( Not that you want either type, but you know what I mean! )
Type II Wrinkled Etchings are usually too deep to fix safely. The problem is the paint fractures, (splits apart into tiny lines,), or wrinkles as the paint swells and bunches together. In both instances, the resulting damage is throughout the clear layer of paint and not topical.
Thus trying to remove it will require removing so much clear paint that you will likely expose the base coat or coloured layer of paint which has a dull appearance. It is not safe to remove this type of etching and you are more than likely in the re-spray territory
Why Do Birds Poop on Cars?
I have heard all types of sh*t theories on this ( excuse the pun ), such as birds can be attracted to certain colours of a car when they decide to do their business, this is just untrue.
If you end up with bird poo on your car, it is just down to pure luck (or lack of )
Contrary to popular belief, birds do not go out of their way to intentionally poop on cars ( although some times it can sure feel like they do ). Bird Poop ends up on your car as a result of several different scenarios such as parking under trees or telephone wires etc, where birds might be perching.
What to do if a Bird Poops on Your Car?
There a certain Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to removing bird poop from your cars paintwork. Let’s take a look at what you should do when the inevitable happens.
1)Never Scrub Dried Bird Poo.
This may seem like common sense, but it is worth me saying it just in case. Never, EVER try to wipe off dried bird poop directly from the paint.
Birds use abrasives to digest their food(bones from their prey, sand, grit, and even small gravel) that when excreted causes scratches. Rubbing this all over your paint will spell disaster and is generally not a good idea
2)Leave Sit for an extended period
The longer you will the bird droppings on the car, the more likely it is that damage will occur. You should act on it as soon as you can, the harder the bird poo on the car, the harder it will be to remove, thus increasing the risk of scratching as you try to remove it from the paint.
There are a couple of ways you can go about removing bird droppings from the surface of your car. Let’s take a look below, I have listed these in order of preference.
1) Do a full wash of the car
This would be my preference for cleaning the car fully, especially if you were parked under a tree and you had more than one bird dropping on the car it is probably best to wash the car completely. This one includes a pre-wash step like snow foaming the car to make sure it will help loosen up and soften the bird poo before you touch the paint.
This will safely and effectively soak into the droppings and make them much easier to remove. If you do not have access to a designated Snow Foam lance or hosepipe attachment then the area can be pre-sprayed with a diluted all-purpose cleaner which will also help to loosen and break down the droppings before cleaning.
I admit, doing a full wash is not the most practical solution, especially if bird droppings get on your car where you are nowhere near your home or where ever you would usually wash your car. So let’s take a look at some other options.
2) Quick Detailer / Waterless Wash Product + Microfiber Towel
Ok so you don’t have access to a hose or running water, your next best bet would be to use some sort of quick detailer or Waterless Wash Product to apply it to the bird droppings to soften them up before you try to remove them from the surface of the car. You will want to apply a good amount of the product to the affected area to make sure you soften every bit of the dropping.
I would then recommend applying some of the product to the microfiber towel or cloth before gently placing it over the bird poo. Tap the towel gently to encourage the fibres to pick up some of the excrement with the least effort possible. This will help to minimize wiping scratches. Once you have removed as much as you can using this method, apply some more quick detailer and gently wipe the remainder away.
3) Dedicated Bird Poo Wipes
You can get wipes designed to remove bird poop from cars, containing a special blend of chemicals that will neutralise the bird excrement and stop it from damaging your paint. Use it on the affected surface, following the instructions on the packaging, and then dispose of it. This is probably the most practical way of removing the bird poo, as you can just pop a pack of these in the car and take them with you wherever you go.
Check these out HERE
Tips for keeping Bird Poop Off your car
1)Watch where you park!
One very easy method to increase your overall chances of avoiding bird is to park away from places where birds can be found, These include:
-The edge of buildings
-Trees where birds are present.
For vehicles left outdoors for longer periods, a car cover is the most sensible and surefire solution.
2)Keep your paint protected
I would recommend keeping your cars paint protected at all times using some quality wax or sealant. While wax offers limited protection against a juicy attack, it makes cleanup much easier. This will at least minimize the risk of damage occurring to the paintwork if this inevitable does happen. If you want to go all out with protection, you may want to consider a ceramic coating on your car. You can read my post on Ceramic Coating Here
3)Use a Car Cover
Many outdoor car cover fabrics will not allow bird droppings to permeate the material and make their way to your vehicle’s paint. This is a good option if your car is parked in a vulnerable place a lot of the time.
There you have it, I think I have covered most of the basics of cleaning bird droppings from your cars paintwork in a safe way, and what you can do to (try) prevent it from happening. If you have any of your tips or tricks I would love to hear them, so please let us know in the comments below.
Until next time,
About the Author – Darren O Hara
Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.
Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.
You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork