How to Remove Bird Poo from Your Car

We all know the annoyance of having a freshly cleaned car suddenly marred by bird poo but it can be a lot more than a small annoyance. Bird droppings can damage your paintwork leading to expensive repairs if not cleaned quickly or properly. 

Bird droppings contain uric acid, which has a ph level of between 3 and 4.5, and can damage the wax coating and paint on your car’s exterior.

Research conducted by car cleaning specialists, Autoglym, also suggests that there is also another way that it damages your paintwork. They found that as the paint lacquer warms during the day it softens and expands while bird droppings remain dry and hard. When the lacquer then cools and contracts later in the day it can mould to the texture of the droppings which leaves an impression on the car’s surface when it is cleaned off.

There are two types of damage that bird dropping have although they provide similar blemishes to your vehicle’s paintwork.

The first is topical stain etching, which is the more common type of mark and once cleaned makes the paint beneath appear faded. They are shallow so easier to clean off.

The second type is a fractured or wrinkled etching, which are more difficult to clean as these are the kind that moulds to the paint lacquer in the way mentioned above. These are harder to clean and require extra caution when cleaning to avoid damaging the paintwork in your cleaning effort.

A pigeon sat on bird poo covered security cameras

How to Avoid / Prevent Damage:

There are a number of ways you can help prevent bird poop from damaging your car and these include:

  • Avoid parking under trees, streetlights and other places that birds may sit
  • If you have a garage or covered parking where birds can’t perch then you might want to park there instead
  • Use a car cover if leaving your vehicle parked for a long period of time
  • When cleaning your car use a wax or paint sealant afterwards to prevent the risk of damage if a bird does poop on your vehicle

If you are not driving as much as you usually would during the current pandemic and your car is sitting unused for periods of time you should regularly check on it to ensure it is not damaged, the battery does not run flat and that there are no stains that need cleaning from the vehicle before they damage the paintwork.

Cleaning Bird Poo Off Your Car:

If you’re not lucky enough to avoid bird poo, then there are a few tricks we recommend to help reduce the risk of damage.

You should clean any bird poo from your car as soon as you notice it, to prevent it from drying and reduce the risk of paint damage.

If it has dried, then you should use a damp cloth or water to soften the stain before attempting to clean it.

If you’re able to keep cleaning supplies in your car. This doesn’t need to be the entire kitchen cupboard just a microfibre cloth and car cleaning spray, or even some wipes, so you can clean any marks as soon as you spot them even if you’re not at home.

A close-up of a hand cleaning bird poo off of a black car

Use a vehicle safe cleaning solution, don’t assume that just because it cleans your floor or makes your dishes sparkle it will work on your car as well. In fact, some household cleaning products do more harm than good when used on a car. However, if you’re cleaning a window standard glass or window cleaner will do the job.

Avoid pressing against the mark too hard or using a rubbing or scraping technique to clean as this could cause further damage.

When cleaning your car, we recommend wearing disposable gloves, if possible, and making sure to wash your hands afterwards.

If the stain does not fully disappear with the first cleaning attempt then just wet it and allow it to soften again before trying to wipe it off. Some larger or dried in stains may require several attempts before they are fully removed. 

What to Do If Your Paintwork’s Already Damaged:

If your paint has been damaged then you might want to repair this yourself. We advise seeking professional help if you are ever unsure of what to do. However, if you want to try covering the mark yourself then we've broken down the steps you'll need to take. 

The first thing you will need to do is wash your car to ensure the area is clean, and then let it dry completely before doing any of the next steps.

Once it’s dry use a lightly abrasive car polish on the affected area, following any guidelines or instructions from the manufacturer. This should remove the damaged top layer of paintwork and expose the paint below which will help you get a better finish. Don’t rub too hard or for too long as this could damage the layer beneath, and always ensure you clean the polish off as well.

It might be that simply cleaning the area is enough to remove the stain, in which case you can seal the area with a wax or sealant to protect the newly exposed paint from the elements.  

If not, then you may need to apply a new coat of paint. You should be able to match the colour by finding the paint code on your vehicle or in its manual and purchasing a touch-up paint. If you have an older vehicle then it may be harder to match the colour as manufacturers sometimes change or discontinue a colour.

You might want to cover the surrounding areas with masking tape and newspaper to prevent overspray. Once covered you can then start to paint the vehicle.

Unlike with a scratch or chip you should not need to sand the area back to metal and apply layers of primer and basecoat. Instead, once you have polished and cleaned the area you should be able to paint it and once dry apply a topcoat.

Most car paints are spray paints and you should be careful not to spray the area too heavily.

You should always allow the paint to dry completely before applying another coat or a topcoat to ensure that it is completely dry and does not cause further damage.

Once the paint and topcoat have been applied you may then need to use a very fine or wet sandpaper if the area is raised compared to nearby paint.

If you have a lease vehicle and a maintenance package included then you should always check with your funder before completing any work. 

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