How to Remove Dead Bugs From Your Car

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Anyone who has ever driven a car for more than twenty miles can relate to this: bugs sticking to the front of your ride are ... well, bugging the hell out of you. And just as rain always seems to come right after you finished hosing and waxing your car, so the creepy crawlers too tend to come out just as you've given your ride a mirror-shine buffing.

The most annoying thing is that those pesky insects can also interfere with your driving, as an insect-covered windshield can severely limit the driver's ability to see, and the windshield wipers are not very efficient in washing away the bug remains.

Unfortunately, bug etching is very frequent and is one of the toughest stains to get rid of. Since you can't really do anything to prevent bugs from flying into your windshield and the entire front part of your vehicle, you should take the appropriate measures to prevent those stains from damaging your paintwork.

We're going to show you a few methods to get rid of the marks left by the demising insects. But before we get into that, let's take the time to understand why bugs are so particularly difficult to remove from the car, no matter where they hit: the grille, the hood, or the windshield.

Most of these buggers contain highly acidic substances, and if the stains they leave are exposed to the sun for longer periods, they’ll dry out and will bite into the paint of your car. That will cause you a bigger pain in the derrière, because then it will be even more difficult to get them off without chipping the paint.

Most of us will take the mechanical removal approach, forcing the scratch resistance of our paint job, while others take a more scientific approach to it. Attacking the problem from a chemical point of view is often better than using sharp or pointy objects so close to your precious (and sometimes expensive) paint job.

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The first solution to remove dead bugs off your car, available to anyone, is to stick to classic bug and tar removing products. Some of them really work, but others don't actually do the job, which makes it frustrating having spent the money in the first place.

Another solution would be to take your car to a car wash for a deep clean. However, sometimes, a good scrub might just do the job, so before you go spending money on the “super wash” version at your local car wash, try to see if you can do the job yourself in your driveway. Since you care so much about your car, you're bound to put more heart into the matter and thus get a better result.

You can use a dish soap and water solution, or, if your car’s glass parts are badly affected by bug splatter, you might need a tougher solution, such as a car window soap. Alternatively, you can use a heavy-duty detergent to remove as much of the bug splatter as you can, and then use a bug and tar remover on the stubborn leftover stains. Bug removers will loosen up insect proteins etched into your car's paint, thus making it easier to remove the stains with a sponge.

Some people recommend soaking the bug stain for a couple of minutes with the wondrous solution known as WD-40, which is a penetrating oil sold in most hardware stores. Just spray on the dead bug, let it penetrate for a while, and then simply rub it off with a clean cloth. WD-40 is a multi-purpose product that has proved to be an excellent alternative to bug removers.

Another classic remedy is to use a vinegar and water solution on bug stains. This concoction is acidic enough to loosen the bug splatter without causing damage to the paint.

Vinegar and water can remove bug stains from car
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If some bug stains still remain on your finish after all the soaking and cleaning, it means they've burned into the paint. In this case, you might need a car polish to remove the imperfections from your vehicle’s paint.

When all else fails, when the scrubbing, the spraying, the wiping, and even the grinding down come to no avail, you have only one option left: a new paint job.

The other nasty place where bugs tend to stick is the windshield, which is an even more tricky place to clean, since you can't really use oil-based products. For instance, you should avoid using WD-40 on the glass parts of your vehicle, because this is an oily substance and it would be harder to remove.

When it comes to cleaning the windshield, the idea is pretty much the same, let the stain soak for a while before attempting to remove it. You can do this by covering up the spot with a cloth soaked in special cleaning soap or another cleaning product.

The best idea is to use a microfiber cloth on your windshield as they don't leave as much lint as a regular fabric would. These go very well with the water-soap combination, and a big plus is that they don't cause a dent in your budget either. For extra-sticky spots, try adding a little baking soda to the water. Its granules are small, so they won't cause scratches to the glass.

The next solution is not for the faint-hearted and requires a steady hand. Try rubbing the smudge with a light scouring pad, like a “000” steel wool. This will remove those stubborn bug residues that you can't normally get off with soap and water.

Car Wash
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A less conventional method of removing bug stains from your windshield is to use some Coke. The chemical composition of the drink will dissolve the bug juices and make them easier to remove. All you have to do is be careful not to damage any on your paint job. At the end, make sure you scrub it with some soap and water, to wash off the Coke.

Sometimes, prevention is key, so when you know you're about to take the scenic route during your weekend getaway, make sure to apply a bug barrier solution to shield your car's paint from bugs. Next time you wash your car, the bug barrier will come off, as will any insects stuck in the product.

Some of these solutions might seem a little too extreme if your car is either very expensive or very rare. But in that case, you probably have the dosh to get a professional scrub. For the rest of us, the hoi polloi, the idea is to try cleaning these stains as soon as possible, because once they dry up, the acid in the bugs has the time to eat into the paint.
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