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How to remove bugs and insects from car paintwork

Written by James Mills

How to remove bugs and insects from car paintwork

Just as summer brings out some welcome and warming sunshine, so it also sees the insect population flourish. And when our six-legged flying friends and foe take to the air it can only mean one thing: millions of them coming to a sticky end on the front of cars.

It’s made worse by the temperature of the sun. This bakes their remains onto the car’s paintwork and glass making cleaning even trickier. But help is at hand. Our top tips will help you to remove the bugs more easily and return your paint to a showroom-fresh state.


Do bugs harm car paintwork?

Bugs aren’t good for paint on cars. Vehicle cleaning specialist Simoniz says: “Unfortunately dead bugs are surprisingly acidic and difficult to remove, and can cause lasting damage to your paintwork if not dealt with swiftly.” That’s because the acid within the insects’ remains etches into the paintwork, dissolving the top layers of what’s known as the clear coat. It’s this action that enables the humble insect to remove the shine from your car’s bodywork.


Clean them off immediately

The longer bugs are left on paintwork, the more damage they’ll do and the harder they’ll become to remove, so it makes sense to act swiftly. Even if you haven’t got time to wash the whole car, you could just clean the front and the windscreen. And that’s where good cleaning products come into their own.


Choose the best car cleaning product

Realising that most people have better things to do than clean their car, the car accessory industry has come up with various potions designed to dissolve bug splats from bodywork and windscreens. Auto Express conducted an independent assessment of bug cleaners. It concluded that Simoniz Insect and Tar Remover was the best. Kenotek Pro Anti Insect came next, followed by Gtechniq W8 Bug Remover and Autoglym Active Insect Remover. Prices vary but bank on spending around £8 for a 500ml bottle.


How to apply the product

The beauty of using products is you don’t have to clean the whole car. You just spray the product on, leave it for the recommended time to do its stuff, then wipe it – and hopefully those dead insects ‑ off with a damp cloth.


You probably already own an unexpected ally

You could try WD-40. The manufacturer claims there are more than 2000 uses for it, one of which is removing bugs. You spray the WD-40 on, let it soak in, then cover the bugs you want to shift with a paper towel. Spray it again. This stops the liquid running away and allows the WD-40 to get to work on the dried-on bugs. You should then be able to use the paper towels to wipe the insects away.



If you haven’t got any bug cleaner or WD-40 and don’t want to splash out on either product, a clever trick is to fill a bucket with car shampoo. Then get an old towel, soak it in the bucket and leave it on the effected areas so that the cleaner can go to work on the bugs. You then wash the car as you normally would.


Written by James Mills

Read more from James Mills

James Mills is a former editor of BBC Top Gear and Auto Express magazines. He now contributes to The Sunday Times Driving. His favourite car is the Caterham Seven.

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