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How to Get Tree Sap Off Your RV (10 Tips from Real RVers)

| Updated Aug 26, 2023

Real RVers share their clever tricks on how to get tree sap off your RV…

Keeping your RV and camping gear clean is a challenge, especially when it comes to sap. The sticky substance is bad enough when it’s wet but even worse when it dries and hardens. 

It’s a problem most RVers have to deal with, which is why it’s no surprise a member of our RV Lifestyle Facebook group reached out for advice. 

Tom posted: “Hi fellow campers. I do a lot of camping at state parks with big pine trees. I am so sick and tired of all the sap…” 

He goes on to ask the community for advice on how to get this sap off, and the community answered with over 100 comments. We share their helpful advice in this article along with some tips of our own.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Important Warning

It’s imperative to understand that different materials and surfaces react differently to various products. Many chemical cleaning products and even natural cleaning products can deteriorate or damage various coatings, sealants, fabrics, and more. 

So, please always check your RV’s owner manual and read the tags and manuals on any camping gear you clean before trying any new cleaning method. Plus, carefully read the instructions, warnings, and defined applications of any cleaning product you wish to try. 

10 Tips to Get Tree Sap Off Your RV & Camping Gear

Some of the following cleaning tips may seem odd, but many RVers swear by them. Plus, you’ll likely have a few of these sap-removing products on hand!

If not, you can easily order the commercial products off Amazon or get them at your local automotive store.

1. Mayonnaise

Yep, mayonnaise. Several RVers in our community use it as their go-to for removing sap. One member asked if it actually does work, and another member, Kelly responded:

“Yes! Born and raised in Lake Tahoe where we always have sap! My go-to for removal! Put a little glob on the sap and rub it around.”

We haven’t tried it ourselves, but several other RVers confirmed its effectiveness. Our only thought is that since mayonnaise is an egg-based product, you should rinse it off thoroughly after it’s done its job. 

2. Hand Sanitizer

With more people carrying hand sanitizer these days, it may be the perfect solution to your sap problem. Because of its alcohol content, it’s quite good at removing sap, especially if it hasn’t hardened. 

But also because of its alcohol content, be mindful of which surfaces you use it on. Do not use it on surfaces that are sensitive to alcohol. Using it on a waxed surface will likely remove the wax along with the sap, so you may need to rewax that spot.

3. Butter

Like mayonnaise, butter is surprisingly good at removing sap. Terry said, “I used butter when I was working on custom log homes. Cheapest thing to use.”

Plus, you likely already have some butter in your RV. Like mayonnaise, put a glob on the sap, rub it in, and clean it off.

The three suggestions above you can likely try immediately, as you probably have those items on hand. But we also have some more suggestions for you…

4. Simple Green Outdoor Cleaner

Simple Green is a popular cleaning brand that’s perhaps best known for their all-purpose cleaner. It’s an eco-friendly product that really means all-purpose, as you can use it for counters, floors, and even laundry.

The brand also makes Simple Green Total Outdoor Cleaner that’s perfect for removing sap and other grime from your RV.

This outdoor cleaner can be used in a pressure washer to make washing your RV even easier. Or, you can use it to hand clean as necessary with a bucket, brush, and a rinse.

Plus, they have Simple Green Heavy-Duty Cleaning Wipes to wipe away freshly-fallen sap.

Preview Product Price
Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner $13.41Amazon Prime


5. Auto Tar & Sap Remover

In his post, Tom asked specifically about how to get sap off his tow vehicle. Stoner Car Care Tar & Sap Remover is a good option for his truck.

This remover is a popular choice among car enthusiasts, and it may work well for your motorhome or trailer as well. Just be sure it's compatible with the exterior material and coatings of your RV.

6. Goo Gone Automotive

Like the previous product, Goo Gone Automotive is specifically designed to get grime off vehicles. “Grime” includes tree sap, bird droppings, bumper stickers, brake dust, asphalt, and more.

So, as you can see, it’s a great option for cleaning your RV and tow vehicle. But again, make sure it’s compatible with the different surfaces and coatings of your RV.

Preview Product Price
Goo Gone Automotive Goo Gone Automotive $13.90

7. Brake Cleaner

This suggestion may be as surprising as mayonnaise, but several commentators mentioned how well it works. Our member Mike said: 

“Brake cleaner dissolves [sap] instantly… Surprising a detail guy mentioned the brake cleaner to me.”

A car detailer would know his stuff, so a quality brake cleaner spray is worth a try. Like most products on this list, you should always rinse and clean it off thoroughly after you use it. Otherwise, it can eat through wax, paint, and more over time.

8. Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol was also mentioned several times. Alcohol is why hand sanitizer works so well, so it’s no surprise that straight rubbing alcohol made the list.

Edward shares specific advice for using it: “At least 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Soak paper towel place on sap, it will soften and come off with wiping. It will leave a residue and also remove any wax. Just reapply wax and rub out with soft microfiber towels.”

You may already have a bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol in your medicine cabinet since it’s an effective antiseptic. 

Preview Product Price
91% Isopropyl Alcohol 91% Isopropyl Alcohol $14.65Amazon Prime

9. Wax Regularly

As they say, the best defense is a good offense. And when it comes to tree sap, wax is a great offense. Plus, it will better protect your RV when you need to use cleaning products on it.

As Steve said, “A lot of the mentioned chemicals will eat through your truck's finish. A good waxing will protect it. Plus the wax will keep the sap from really sticking.”

So, keeping your RV and your tow/toad vehicles waxed is a win-win. Butter Wet Wax is a popular choice as it’s safe for all finishes and gives a nice shiny finish. (Note that it’s not recommended for matte finishes.)

10. Cover Your RV

What better offense can you have than a cover for your RV? An RV cover, tarp, or even sheets can keep sap from ever touching your RV.

This may not be the most practical solution when you’re camping, as you may not want to put on and remove it as you travel. However, it’s always a good idea to cover your RV when it’s in storage or between trips. 

One commentator explained how she uses sheets when parked under certain trees since they are lightweight and easy to wash. This is especially helpful with tow or toad vehicles, as you can close the ends of the sheets in the doors or hood to keep it in place. 

Great Product for Removing Bug Splatter

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

Speaking of clever ways to keep your RV clean, Jennifer shares a great product for removing bug splatter in this video. Click here to learn more about the product.

Preview Product Price
Bugs Off Pads Bugs Off Pads $22.98

Finally! Mike and Jennifer's Michigan Bundle
(Michigan's Lower Peninsula AND Michigan's Upper Peninsula)

How to Get Tree Sap Off Your RV (10 Tips from Real RVers) 1

This Michigan Bundle contains our ever-popular Guide to the Upper Peninsula PLUS our newest Guide on the LOWER Peninsula! Here's a little on both ebooks (not a printed book):

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Adventure Guide: This ebook is a seven stop guided exploration of the Michigan UP. We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way. Don’t plan your trip to the Upper Peninsula without it!

Michigan's Lower Peninsula Adventure Guide: This guide explores the Lower Peninsula, also known as ‘the Mitten.” You can easily spot its mitten shape on the map. Most of this guide follows the coast of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, with a little bit of Lake Erie down near Detroit.

You are in for a HUGE adventure with this ebook bundle of the best of Michigan for RVers!


Last update on 2024-04-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-08-24

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “How to Get Tree Sap Off Your RV (10 Tips from Real RVers)”

August 27, 2023at11:51 am, John Sutjak said:

I recently ended up on a freshly oiled dirt road and even though I did not go far and intentionally slowed down, my truck and trailer were a real mess. First recommendation was WD-40, this came from several of my auto motive friends. I did not try it but put it in the brake cleaner category. I stopped by an auto detailer and they said they did not have enough time to dedicate or the people to do it but did not have a recommendation for a cleaner. My regular auto mechanic recommended WD-40 or a good auto cleaner, I picked up Turtle Wax Max Cleaner but did not use it either. I stopped by a RV Repair facility and they recommended Sta-Put Adhesive Remover and Degreaser. Even showed me how well it worked and gave me can they were using. Bought some but did not use it either. Not sure who told me to try Goo Gone but I bought several spray containers (4 I think) and figured I would try it first because of it’s use on anything reputation. I was able to clean the trailer in about an hour and it took me about an hour for each side of my truck. I was amazed at how easy it was and well it worked. You have to use a lot of it but the oil and dirt literally wiped off. I do recommend after you finish, going back and looking again a few days later for missed areas. Then having it professionally cleaned and waxed to help protect it before the next event.

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August 28, 2023at9:59 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing this, John! Team RV Lifestyle

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