Scientists estimate that 10 quintillion (eighteen zeros) insects live on Earth. There are also approximately 1.4 billion automobiles in the world. That means eight billion bugs exist for each car on the road. Since the odds suggest you’re bound to hit your share, let’s explore how to “debug” your car.
To clean bugs off your bumper: Wash your vehicle, apply bug remover, dry the surface, and then apply a protective layer.
The science behind bug splatter
It’s no secret that bug splatter looks unappealing; however, it affects more than just your car’s appearance. Some bug innards are acidic. While pH varies from species to species, bug guts range from a relatively harmless 10 to an acidic three on the pH scale. Consider that battery acid has a pH of zero, and you’ll quickly realize how important it is to promptly remove bug splatter.
When left on your vehicle, the sun bakes bug splatter onto your paint, and entrails of some species become more acidic with time. The University of Florida conducted a study on the guts of the lovebug. This common, southern insect has a gut pH of 6.5 while alive. After spending some time in the heat and sun, however, the pH of lovebug splatter drops well into acidic range.
This drop in pH may not sound dramatic, but it is considerable. The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that an increase or decrease by one integer value changes the concentration tenfold. For example, a substance with a pH level of two is ten times more acidic than a substance with a value of three. Our friendly lovebug becomes a hundred times more acidic in a relatively short time.
Timing is everything
Bug splatter is a problem that only gets worse, so the sooner you address it, the better.
You don’t have to conduct a full-scale detailing every time a bug splatters on your car. Spot-clean small areas as needed. You can use water dipped into a paper towel or napkin. Splatters frequently come up with ease when they are addressed promptly.
If they’ve been your vehicle longer, though, you’ll want to keep reading.
Serious bug removal
When you’re looking to properly remove baked-on splatters, follow our advice for rapid removal.
List of tools
Here is a list of tools and materials you will need to remove bugs from your car’s bumper:
- Two buckets
- Car shampoo
- Microfiber towels
- Wash mitt
- Bug remover/eraser
Use a two-bucket wash system for any exterior detailing job. Fill up both buckets with soapy water, and use one for clean, and the other for rinsed, dirty water.
Wash off your vehicle
A basic car wash will remove most bugs from your bumper, especially if they were squished recently. We recommend using a wash mitt for the initial wash. Wash mitts hold a large amount of soap and suds and are ideal for delicate finishes. Whether you’re detailing the entire exterior or just the bumper – wash from the top down, so dirty water doesn’t run over previously-cleaned areas.
Apply bug remover
Several tools are engineered to remove bug splatter that are still safe to use on your exterior paint. These products come in various forms -- each requiring different methods.
Aerosol and sprays
Automotive bug removers typically come in aerosol or spray form. In fact, some detailers will even use tar and sap remover for cleaning bug splatter. Aerosol and spray products use strong chemicals to remove stubborn stains from the surface of your vehicle. After using one of these products, thoroughly rinse off your vehicle with clear water. This will ensure that strong chemicals don’t linger on your exterior finish.
Stoner Car Care’s Bug Eraser
Stoner Car Care’s Bug Eraser is an excellent option for people who are working with older or more delicate paint. Our Bug Eraser contains softening agents and synthetic microfibers which specialize in lifting off bug splatter. These erasers don’t require excessive scrubbing and are safe to use on automotive finishes. This option is great for bug-removal beginners, as using the Bug Eraser is simple – just apply some water, gently rub to remove bugs, and finish by drying with a microfiber towel.
Microfiber towels are perfect for removing bug residue. Bugs leave behind a strong exoskeleton, and this shell could scratch your paint if removed forcefully. Microfiber towels are one of the softest detailing materials around, making them ideal for cleaning off stubborn bug splatter.
Dry the Surface
Thoroughly dry the surface of your car once all the bug splatter is removed. Bumpers are difficult to dry, as they typically house small nooks and crannies that are difficult to access. Put down a beach towel, stool or even an upside-down bucket to get up close for this step. The bumper protects the front of your vehicle, but also curves downwards to provide some additional protection underneath. Getting close to the bumper will allow you to reach all areas.
Apply a protective layer
Even if the surface of your bumper is now clean, it is not yet protected from future splatters and debris. Fully-synthetic sealants protect your bumper from bugs and other environmental elements such as UV rays and road debris. They’re an attractive alternative to wax sealants, which burn off faster in the sunlight.
Stoner’s Synthetic Sealant forms a weatherproof seal that is safe for all finishes, and can be used year-round. Critically, it also protects your finish from bug splatter and its acidic effects. Application requires a product such as a microfiber towel, and some elbow grease.
Keep your bumper bug-free!
Bug guts are unappealing, and they also threaten the long-term beauty of your car’s finish. Regular upkeep with the right products and tools will ensure a sparkling finish -- at least until the next bug comes your way!