While a few may consider bird droppings as ‘good luck’, most feel the opposite about it, especially when it is baking on the surface of your own car. Whether you live in the city centre or a suburban house in Melbourne, you can be a victim of this. So, what is the big deal, it is just a bit of bird poop, right? Well, it turns out that bird poo is very acidic because of the uric acid present in it. These low pH levels [roughly 3-4.5], especially on a hot summer day, lead to corrosive effects on the car wax/paint/clear coat.
While a simple hand car wash on-site immediately after the fact could be the best solution, it is not as simple as that at times. Damage to the car paint can start as early as 3 minutes after the poo contacts the vehicle’s surface, particularly on hot days. A professional car wash takes time, and by then, it could be too late, here is what you need to know about dealing with bird poop safely and swiftly.
Factors to consider before cleaning bird poop off the car’s surface:
One needs to consider the type of stain and the duration of time passed after the bird droppings fell on the car.
The two types of stains are.
a] Surface stain etch
Which is easy to clean. Usually faded in appearance and not thick. A damp cloth and some pressure should do the job, given that it is still fresh.
b] Wrinkled etch
Usually appears fractured and two-dimensional at times and may need a polish to rectify.
Do's and Don'ts of Cleaning Bird Droppings:
a) Clean the stain immediately with a very damp cloth, a microfiber towel works best as it has a less prone-effect to marring or scratching the surface (edgeless towels). If you see it happen in real-time, then you cannot be too fussy as time is of the essence in this case, a wet tissue with minimal pressure may work for the time being before it etches into the paint. If you find it later at a dried-up stage, DO NOT simply rub it with a cloth as this will cause scratching further. Instead, place the damp cloth on the stain [only if it’s topical and faded and not if it is wrinkled], and let it sit for a minute before you gently rub off the stain in small circular movements, with minimal pressure.
b) Cleaning solutions and industry automotive-grade wet-wipes are great if they are vehicle paintwork-safe. Do not clean multiple stains with cleaning solutions. Experiment with one and see how a spot under it is reacting to your efforts. If you feel like the paint is coming off with the poo, go to a professional and get it done. Some safe solutions to use include car wash shampoo that is pH neutral or even a slightly stronger heavy duty car wash shampoo could add extra cleaning power to the process. Bug and grime solution or detailer sprays can assist with this too, really comes down to how stubborn the stain is
c) For those out and about, it is always handy to keep a bottle of water in the car, obviously away from sun exposure due to the possibility of it exploding (yes, exploding – read more about it here). At least this way you can lubricate the bird poop to reduce the likelihood of it drying and etching through to the paintwork. By exposing it to water, you are then making it easier to wipe down with a cloth or tissue.
What If I Have Paint Protection?
If your car has paint protection in the form of a ceramic or graphene coating, it will act as a sacrificial layer to reduce the likelihood of the bird droppings penetrating through deeper into the clear coat. Bird droppings will etch through any surface that it binds too. A ceramic or graphene coating is an excellent way to protect your paintwork from excessive damage with its chemical resistance properties, but will not prevent etching. If your coating has bird droppings on it, you must:
a) Rinse off the area with water, using a hose is okay, given that the bird poo is still fresh in its form. This way the chemical etching that takes place is removed or lessened.
b) If the bird droppings are no longer fresh and have dried on the surface, then you should consider washing the car to see if the car wash shampoo and agitation was enough to remove the stain.
c) If the stains persist, then using a clay bar or clay mitt, with a lubricant or car wash shampoo is a more effective technique to tackle the bird poop.
d) At this point, if the stain still shows, you can consider using a mild polish/compound to with a Machine Polisher to buff out the stain given that it has not gone through the coating and clear coat. It is important to note, that machine polishing does thin the surface that it is exposed to, whether it would be your clear coat or paint protection. However, the level of thinning is quite minimal during this process.
If you care about your car and can afford it, take it to a professional car detailer from the beginning, especially if the stain has already dried up, or a multiple stains situation. If the bird dropping has made its way through the clear coat, this is the worst possible scenario, whereby it becomes beyond repair by detail. What we mean by this is that the clear coat is what protects your car from the environment and whilst keeping the paint covered, but due to the acidic content of the bird poop, it can eat through the protective clear coat. When this happens, it means that not even a machine polish/buff can fix the stain as it has gone too far through. In these circumstances, this is where a car respray will be needed, particularly with the use of a clear coat spray. These can be sourced from your local auto shop and can be applied as DIY or with a professional. Just proceed with caution as it is possible that you can create overspray to surrounding panels or even other nearby parked cars, which is another headache to deal with.
THEY SAY PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
The best thing to do to protect your car when not in use is to park it inside the garage versus out on the street to prevent any bird poo accidents. If you do not have a garage, keep the car covered with a sheet. Ensure that your car paint has been given a protective coat with a suitable protectant by a professional, this would include a wax, sealant or better yet, a graphene or ceramic coating for the best form of car paint protection. At least with a ceramic coating you are able to apply a hard durable coating on the paintwork. One of the biggest advantages, is its ability to last many years and perform with exceptional durability and resistance against chemicals – in this case pH acidic bird droppings. This is a great option for those who would like to keep their car looking as glossy as the day they bought it with a long lasting form of protection. If you have no choice but to park the car outdoors or regularly drive outdoors, then this may be the solution you need.
Car Care Advice For The Everyday Driver & Enthusiast
As a seasoned author on our team, Chester also known as ‘Gadget’, for his love for all things mechanical, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, particularly when it comes to automotive topics.