How to clean bird poop off a car

bird poop on car

It’s always the way…you’ve washed your car and then a dirty big bird comes along and leaves its mark. Here’s how to clean bird poop off a car.

Happened to me just the other day. I’d washed our car, stood back to admire a job well done with every single panel gleaming like the surface was liquid. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back and call out for the kids to come and bask in the glow of the world’s cleanest car when it was dive bombed.

The resultant poop bombardment was some sort of hellish concoction that looked as if the bird had been on a bender the night before and drunk several bottles of red wine. Yep, it was one of those purple splats that seemed like it could only have come from a pterodactyl. I almost cried.

And that’s because bird poop is incredibly bad for your car.

Why is bird poop so bad for paint?

Bird poop is a mix of nastiness. The white stuff you see is uric acid and formed in the urinary tract of the bird, this is the stuff that can eat through the protective layer of wax and eventually etch the paintwork itself. Especially if it’s left to bake on in the sun, something we’ve got plenty of in Australia; even in winter. See, your car’s paint as it warms up in the sun will expand and then, as it cools, contracts again. So, anything that falls onto the paint when it’s expanded can get trapped in the surface once it cools and contracts. If that happens to be bird poop, well, you see why it’s so important to get this stuff off your car as quickly as possible. But you don’t want to just go wiping it off.

Cleaning bird poop off your car

Ideally, you want to wash and wax your vehicle regularly to ensure it’s both clean and the surface is protected with a sacrificial layer of wax or some such. But, it’s a good idea to get any bird poop off the surface as quickly as possible.

To do that, you’ll want to rinse the poop off with water. Don’t touch it or try and wipe it off with a cloth until you’ve wet the poop and softened it. Try and wipe it off first and you’ll just end up scratching the paintwork. If you don’t have a hose, then make sure you’ve got some microfibre cloths and a spray bottle of waterless car wash in your vehicle and spray it onto the poop. Again, this will soften the poop so it can be cleaned off your vehicle.

It’s a good idea to apply a good coat of wax to your vehicle a couple of times a year to ensure the surface is well protected form muck like bird poop, pollen and tree sap.

Car companies actually make artificial bird poop…

Yep, car companies make up their own artificial bird poop to improve the protective qualities of their paint. Indeed, Ford claims to have developed  a synthetic formula of poop that can be tweaked to reflect the different diets of birds (and thus the acidity) across Europe.

The synthetic droppings are applied and then the vehicle surface is baked at varying temperatures to replicate customer use across the world, to limit-test the corrosion protection of the paint.

But it isn’t just bird poop that car makers test for, nope, some mix up phosphoric acid and soap, adding synthetic pollen to replicate the effect of pollen and tree sap. Like the bird poop, after application the formula is baked at up to 80-degrees C for 30 minutes.

Other paint tests that Ford conducts involve vehicles being bombarded non-stop with ultraviolet light for up to 6000 hours (250 days) in a light lab – simulating five years in the brightest place on earth – to evaluate outdoor weathering; getting frozen in sub-zero temperatures; being exposed to harsh winter road grime in a high humidity salt chamber and subjection to simulated fuel staining from vehicle service station over-fuelling.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.