Bugs Etched Into Car Paint—What To Do?

Do you need to know what to do if bugs are etched into your car paint? Well, we have researched this topic and have the answers for you. You must know how long you can leave bugs etched into your paint before they cause permanent damage.

If you get bugs etched into your car paint, you should wash them off as soon as possible. Bugs that are cleaned off quickly may not have time to stain the paint. If the bugs do stain, there are still some techniques to remove the stains, such as: 

  • washing the car
  • applying a degreaser
  • polishing the clear coat

In this article, we will learn what you should do if bugs are etched into your car paint. We will also explore other interesting related questions, like whether vinegar removes bugs from a car exterior and whether leaving bugs on your car exterior is bad. Keep reading to learn more.

Bug splats on the bumper of the car, Bugs Etched Into Car Paint—What To Do?

What Should You Do If Bugs Are Etched Into Your Car Paint?

If you find that you have bugs etched into your car paint, you will need to act quickly to have desirable results. The bugs that stick to your car are acidic and will start to eat into the clear coat. That is why you need to wash your vehicle as soon as possible.

Wash The Car

When you have bugs etched into your car paint, you will want to wash it with soap and water as soon as you can. Start by mixing soap in a bucket of water. Then take a large sponge and scrub over the area with bug etchings in small circular motions.

Keep dipping the sponge in the soap water solution. This will help to loosen the bugs off the paint.

After you have cleaned the whole affected area, rinse off the soap with a hose. Once all of the soap has been removed, allow the car to dry. You can dry the car with towels, or you can let it air dry. After you have dried the vehicle, inspect the bug etchings.

If you started cleaning the car quickly enough, this might have been enough to have removed all of the bugs from the paint; however, if you have waited too long, then you may still see bugs deep in the clear coat. If this is the case, you will now need to try a degreaser.

Clean The Car With A Degreaser

A degreaser can be used to clean the stubborn bug residue etched into your clear coat. There are many of these on the market that can help clean bugs off of your car paint. Here are a few reliable and popular products.

Bug Remover

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Bug Remover will help loosen up bug proteins stuck on your paint, making it far easier to wipe them off with a sponge. This product is safe on your paint and clear coat. Interestingly, it is also safe on wax coats applied to your car. It is a nice feature not to have to reapply a wax coating after using Bug Remover.

Bug + Tar Remover

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Bug + Tar Remover can safely remove bugs and tar from your car paint. It can also remove bird droppings, which are even more acidic than bugs.

Just add a capful of the product to a gallon of water to make the cleaning solution. Then dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and scrub the area of the paint with bug etchings. The solution will break up acidic bug gunk, making it easy to clean off your paint.

Orange Degreaser

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Orange Degreaser is a general-purpose degreaser that has been a reliable product for many years at removing bugs and grime off of your car's paint. Like some other degreaser's, Orange Degreaser is super concentrated. You can dilute it to the desired concentration levels. This product has been shown to loosen bug grime that is etched deep into your clear coat.

If you find that there are still some signs of bugs etched into your paint, then it is likely that the clear coat has become stained. No matter how well you clean the bugs off of your car, if the clear coat is stained, you will still see a mark after the bugs are cleaned off. Next, we will tell you what you should do if your clear coat is stained from bugs.

Polish Away Any Clear Coat Stains

If you have cleaned your car with a degreaser and still have signs of bug etchings, then it is likely that your paint's clear coat is stained. While it may seem like there is nothing you can do to repair this damage, there is one more thing that may cover up that minor blemish.

The solution is polishing your clear coat. When you get a small stain in your clear coat, it is possible to fix it by polishing it away. There is a proper process to prevent any further damage to your paint.

The first step is to select a very fine polishing agent. You want to start polishing with a fine polishing agent and work your way to a more rough polishing agent until you find a grit that can remove the stain without over-polishing the surface of the car.

Once you have found a polishing agent with the proper roughness to remove the stain, start to increase the fineness of the polishing agent you are using until you return the very fine polishing agent.

Following these steps will leave the stain removed and your car looking shiny and polished.

Will Vinegar Remove Bugs From A Car?

Vinegar is a great way to remove bugs from a car. A vinegar and water solution will be acidic enough to loosen the bugs stuck to your paint without damaging the paint.

Using vinegar and water to remove bugs from a car is a classic remedy. If you don't have a degreaser available, you can use a vinegar solution to remove bugs.

Vinegar also has the unique property of drying without leaving streaks. This is another reason it is an excellent solution for removing bugs from your car. 

What Is The Best Love Bug Remover?

Sometimes bugs will be etched deep into your car's paint, and a regular degreaser isn't going to be enough. In these situations, you may think that there isn't an option left; however, one more trick can get hard to get bugs off of your paint.

Bugs, like love bugs, are highly acidic. This acidity means that when they stick to your vehicle, they eat into the paint. This can make it very difficult to clean them off later. This is where one of those tricks comes in: using WD-40.


You can find this product here on Amazon.

WD-40 is a lubricant and a penetrator. This means that the WD-40 solution penetrates deep into even the smallest of spaces. This gives WD-40 the unique ability to get a small amount of lubricant under a stubborn stuck-on bug and get it to slide off of the paint.

This is a common home technique to remove love bugs from your paint. Be sure to allow the WD-40 to soak into the bugs for a few minutes before you attempt to wipe them off of the paint. This will help give the bugs time to loosen up.

What Can I Put On My Car To Keep The Love Bugs From Sticking?

A car specialist wiping the car door clean from bugs

If you would like to prevent bugs from sticking to your car in the first place, you may want to try a bug barrier.

Bug Barriers

Bug barriers are temporary products that are sprayed on your car that shield your paint from bugs and debris. When you wash your vehicle, the bug barrier comes off, along with any bugs stuck in the barrier. Here are a few bug barrier products that will prevent bugs from etching into your car's paint.

Bug Wax

You can find this product here on Amazon.

This product creates a barrier on your car's paint that catches bugs. When you wash off the Bug Wax, the bugs wash right off with it.

Dr. Beasley's Bug Barrier

You can find this product here on Amazon.

This product also creates a shield to help keep bugs off of your paint. Keeping the bugs off of the paint will keep the clear coat from staining.

Shine Armor

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Shine Armor creates a protective coat that keeps bugs from making direct contact with your car's paint. This product takes 15 minutes to apply and leaves your car's paint protected from bug splatter.

As you can see, many bug barriers on the market can help shield your car's paint from bug marks. Any of these products can work as a preventive to bug etchings in your car's clear coat.

Is Leaving Bugs On Your Car Bad?

Bugs etched into the bumper of the car

You do not want to leave bugs on your car. If you leave bugs on your vehicle, their acidic bodies will eat deep into your car's clear coat. There they will begin to stain the clear coat. Even after you wash off the bugs, a small stain in the clear coat will remain if this happens.

Not only do these bug stains look unappealing, but it also is a weak spot in the clear coat of your car's paint. This will be the first area that weather works its way through as the years damage your car's paint job.

To prolong your car's paint, you will want to prevent bug etchings by removing bugs promptly from your car's paint. Please do not leave them to do more damage.

Does Waxing A Car Help With Bugs?

Waxing a car can be an excellent solution for bugs. When you wax your car, it creates a protective layer that shields your car's paint from the environment.

Bugs hitting your car don't splatter across the paint but rather the wax coating. When you wash the wax coating off later, the bug splatter comes off with it.

This all makes waxing your car a great preventive measure to bug etchings.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we learned that you should wash bugs off your car as soon as possible. We learned a degreaser removes stuck bugs, and so can vinegar. Next, we learned that waxing your car can help to prevent bugs from etching into your car's paint.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you would like to learn more, check out some of these other posts.

What Is The Best Windshield Washer Fluid For Bugs?

How to Get Bugs off of Your Vehicle

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