Cleaning Bugs Off Your Car on the Cheap (Without Damaging the Paint)

by Reader Contributors

Cleaning Bugs Off Car on the Cheap photo

It can be tough to scrub bugs off the front of your car and commercial cleaners aren’t cheap. Our frugal readers share their best tips for removing stubborn bugs without spending a lot or damaging your car’s paint.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Does anyone know of an affordable cleaner (bought or homemade) that cleans the bugs (and tar) of a car’s finish and chrome without hurting the finish? The commercial products (Turtle Wax bug and tar remover) is so oily/diesel fuel-like and some of them are so expensive.

I’d appreciate any suggestions you have for how to get bugs off my car on the cheap! Thanks!

Is There a Cheap Way of Cleaning Bugs Off a Car Without Hurting the Paint?

Our frugal readers are full of good ideas for caring for a vehicle inexpensively so we asked them for their tips for cleaning bugs off of a car. See if one of their frugal ideas will help you keep your car bug free.

From Your Auto Center

On of the things I’ve found that work really well on chrome is Mothers Chrome Polish, it seems to take anything off. Another cleaner that works on bugs and tar is Super Clean. It’s made by Castrol and is very effective. I usually spray it on, let it sit a moment, then give it a good scrub.

Here’s a great hint for taking anything sticky off: Get some battery cleaner at your local automotive store. This stuff will clean anything. I would recommend spot testing any of the above mentioned products before putting them right on in plain sight. After getting your bumpers nice and clean, make sure you polish (if a newer car) or wax (depending on finish) immediately following. This will make taking off those grimy guts much easier next time.
Aaron D.

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From Your Laundry Room

I use Spray ‘n Wash or any other laundry stain remover to get tar and bugs off my car. After applying, let it sit for a minute to loosen the tar then wash. I’ve been using it for 15 years and haven’t had any problems.

It also works great on whitewalls.
Kathy G.

Try Simple Green

We use a product called Simple Green, which is available in grocery stores, automotive stores, and Walmart. It gets rid of pesky love bugs for us in the south, and it is used diluted to wash the cars on used car lots.
Janet from Georgia

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I use WD-40 to clean the bugs from my van. Of course, there might be a slight residue but nothing like some of the other preparations.

Diesel Fuel Works

We work with automotive people all day and they all agree the best oil and road scum remover is diesel fuel. It’s low price almost makes up for the smell.
Jill J.

Baking Soda

I use baking soda on my white car to remove road gunk and bugs. My car is almost six years old, and the baking soda hasn’t scratched the finish at all

All I do is dip a wet rag in the baking soda and rub; most of the stuff comes off easily.
Su F. in Nashville, TN

Windex and Soap

We live in Florida and have a hard time with Love Bugs. My husband has experimented with many cleaners and has found that if you mix Windex (or Windex-type cleaners) and hand dish washing liquid soap, the bugs come off with little effort and no damage to the paint.
Laura in Florida

Reviewed November 2020

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