Anyone who says that they like surprises has apparently never had a seagull with irritable bowel syndrome take a shit on their sports car. This unpleasant experience is one of those unavoidable experiences in life that makes you use an expletive that doubles as a descriptor, as you grit your teeth and mutter, “Oh… shit.”
Bird poo pummelings are especially excruciating for us petrolheads. We spend countless hours scrubbing, polishing, and enhancing the shine on our automobiles, only to have an uncouth pelican plop turds the size of tangerines on it the moment we head out for a cruise.
But, fear not DIY detailers! If an aerial armada of albatrosses decide to defecate on your dumpy old Dodge Durango, you now have the following cleaning options and preventative solutions at your disposal.
Today, we’ll dig into the science behind what makes bird poo so detrimental to our clear coats, and what automakers and DIY minds alike are doing to protect our cars from this aerial assault.
How Bird Poop Damages Car Paint
While focusing on how to protect a vehicle’s paint from bird crap tackles the defensive side of the situation, understanding how these droppings cause paint damage in the first place is also important.
Bird shit is pretty abrasive stuff. In fact, the world’s leading experts on avian excrement, have concluded that the acidic pH levels found within bird crap are far more corrosive than previously predicted.
If allowed to sit for too long, bird droppings have the ability to slowly eat their way into a clear coat, and if exposed to high temps and/or UV rays, will create a semi-permanent etching that is an absolute bitch to remove.
Like most waste products, bird poo is is a by-product of stomach acids breaking down food. However, the average bird’s pooper is quite different than that of a mammal. Like many reptiles and invertebrates, avian species rely upon a specialized orifice called a “cloaca” for all of their digestive, reproductive, and urinary needs.
That’s right. One hole for EVERYTHING. Think about that next time you’re frying up eggs and bacon for the fam…
It is within this magical orifice, that the uric acid crystals used to break down insects, seeds, grasses, fish, and various other avian edibles are blended with urine. The result? A watery, uric acid-rich concoction that is extremely volatile and prone to splattering everywhere.
Quick Nerd Note: While the pH level of the average bird dropping resides somewhere in the 3.5 to 4.5 range, it is intense enough that it will burn through clear coat, and even eat into paint. This explains why bird droppings are known for leaving their mark, even long after they have been wiped away.
How Quickly Do Bird Droppings Cause Damage?
Uric acid is one of the more aggressive naturally occurring acids on the planet, even when delivered in miniscule increments, like within bird poop. As soon as this stuff comes into contact with a surface, the bird turd acidic assault begins, and the results are not pretty.
Bird excretions also tend to be incredibly sticky, and due to their velocity, as well as that of your automobile when in motion, bird poo is prone to splattering all over the damn place. This not only causes it to bond with unpainted plastics and soft convertible tops, but within all of the invisible peaks and valleys found within the porous paint protection product commonly referred to as “clear coat.”
Outside of glass, and perhaps your ex’s frigid heart of stone, very few materials are safe from this acid-rich, airborne aerial attack. On automobiles, this means that things like unpainted plastic trim, chrome, and powder coated components are all susceptible to the avian fecal onslaught.
It’s not like vinyl wraps, paint protection films (PPF), and paint sealants are immune to failure either. These, and many more automotive protection products quickly become compromised when exposed to the ass-end of nature’s egg-layers.
Which leads us to the topic of why it’s so crucial to remove bird droppings as soon as you detect them…
How to Safely Remove Bird Poop from Your Car
While there are numerous bird dropping removal chemicals on the market, the following methods have been proven to safely cut the crap in an extremely efficient manner.
Remember, your vehicle’s clear coat is just as susceptible to damage from your cleaning techniques as it is from all of the crud caking onto it. So proceed with caution, and when in doubt talk to a pro detailer.
Quick Nerd Note: All of the following suggestions are designed to address removing bird droppings from painted and clear coated automotive surface. So be mindful that things like glass, vinyl, plastic, and rubber may require a different approach.
Clay Media Decontamination
A clay decontamination product, like a clay bar, clay mitt, or a clay towel not only removes microscopic contaminants that are trapped in clear coat, but it also does a banging job at cutting bird crap. For more information on this method, be sure to scope-out our article on how to use automotive clay to safely remove things like bird crap.
Last we heard, WD-40 had more than 250 uses, with one of them being the removal of dried bird shit from automotive paintwork.
This highly effective spray lubricant does a damn good job of penetrating hardened bird poop, with the oils contained within its solution serving as a “stool-softening” agent. The only caveat with this spray-and-wipe-away solution, is that WD-40 cannot be applied to a hot surface, or while in direct sunlight.
Quick Tip: As with any “non-automotive oriented” product, it is always best to err on the side of caution, and make sure that no residue is left behind once your cleaning is complete. For WD-40, we recommended immediately washing your vehicle with a pH balanced car shampoo and the two-bucket car wash method, before completely drying it off with a plush microfiber towel.
Hot Water & Baking Soda
Another tried-and-true automotive DIY solution for removing bird poop, is the classic baking soda and hot water technique.
Just take a large spray bottle, fill it with 32-ounces of warm tap water, throw in 4 tablespoons of baking soda, and shake until well blended. Once mixed, spray the solution directly onto the bird droppings, allowing it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing the area off with fresh water.
Quick Tip: It is vital that you DO NOT attempt to wipe the baking soda spray away, as this stuff can be quite abrasive, even when suspended in H2O. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water first, before tackling the whole shampoo and scrub bit.
Bird Poop Car Wipes
If you are still not hip to the whole wipe-away bird poop towel phenomenon, here’s a quick rundown for you.
These simple yet effective specialty products are pre-soaked in a feces-lifting formula, and then package sealed for maximum moisture retainment. Engineered to be paint-safe and environmentally friendly, these disposable wipes specialize in breaking down moderately hardened stools and neutralizing avian uric acid. Often constructed from ultra-soft bamboo fibers and biodegradable materials, bird poo wipes have become a favorite car gift for all the right reasons.
For this technique, grab a can of seltzer water, give it a shake, and once the fizz settles, pour it over the bird crap. This club soda approach also works wonders on windshields, because once allowed to soak, both the soda water and the excrement it has lifted can be whisked away with the vehicle’s windshield wipers.
Quick Tip: We don’t care what your drunk uncle told you at the family cookout. You should NEVER use a carbonated soft drink to remove bird feces from a vehicle’s paintwork. These highly acidic, tooth decaying beverages have been proven to cause more harm than good, especially if allowed to sit for too long. Do yourself and your car a favor, and stick with plain old unflavored club soda.
Spray-On Bird Poo Removers
While there are countless quick detailing sprays out there, only a handful are specially formulated around the removal of bird poo, and many of them contain harsh chemicals. The best bird dropping removal sprays tend to be manufactured for the pet industry, as they make it possible to safely clean bird cages, upholstery, and things of that nature.
Once used in conjunction with a garden hose or pressure washer, this spray-on approach safely softens dried fecal matter and lifts it to the surface, while guaranteeing that overapplication is not an issue.
Be Careful When Cleaning Bird Poop Off Your Car
Not only is bird poop very sticky and quick to adhere to surfaces, but it can also make you quite sick. Ever heard of Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, or Psittacosis? We suggest you read into it before deciding to charge in without any form of protection.
Since you are dealing with raw animal excrement, it is advisable to always wear a mask, eye protection, and disposable gloves when removing bird droppings. It’s not a bad idea to wash your clothes once scrubbing time is complete too, and avoid touching your face or cell phone when in the midst of the cleaning procedure.
How to Fix Stains Caused by Bird Poop
So what about those bird shit stains that seem to have permanently etched themselves into your clear coat? Is there a way to reverse the damage caused by this crap, and if so, how difficult or time consuming is this process? Are there different kinds of bird shit stains? Do you need to use specialized tools or equipment? Let’s find out…
The less severe type of paint damage caused by bird droppings is commonly referred to as a “topical stain.” This is not really a stain, but more of a soiled area on top of the clear coat.
However, if the bird crap refuses to be wiped or rinsed away with any of the products listed above, you’ll need to put your paint correction skills into action or contract the job out to a professional.
Fractured Paint and Etching
The second level of bird shit damage is called fractured, or etched paint, and it’s pretty much about as bad as it gets. This is when prolonged exposure to bird droppings, heat, direct sunlight, and other elements cause the acidic excrement to eat away the clear coat, pull-up paint, and in extreme cases, begin to bond with bare metal.
Fractured paint is not a procedure that most people will attempt on their own, so contracting this job out to a reputable auto body repair specialist is going to be your best bet with this level of deeply etched stain.
Protecting Car Paint from Bird Dropping Damage
While synthetic waxes and paint sealants may protect your car from things like UV rays and minor contaminants, they don’t have a very good lifespan, and are not well-equipped to combat bird shit.
If undetected and left to solidify, the acidic pH levels found within bird crap will eat their away through natural and synthetic waxes in just a matter of days, and begin to fuse with the clear coat underneath.
This is why so many people have begun to gravitate toward 9H-rated nano ceramic coatings, as these quartz crystal-based surface protectants both repel bird crap, and make clean-up super easy.
High end nano ceramic coatings, like Armor Shield IX, come heavily fortified with silica dioxide (SiO2), which in essence, is finely processed quartz crystals. Once allowed to cure atop a hard surface, the ceramic coating creates this super strong layer of protection that fills in all of the microscopic imperfections found within clear coats.
This hard shield of protection can be applied to a wide array of surfaces, including plastic trim, chrome, carbon fiber, bare metal, fiberglass, and more. It also plays well with things like vinyl wrap, paint protection film (PPF), powder coatings, and clear bras.
Once installed and allowed to cure, Armor Shield IX is guaranteed to repel bird droppings and other crud for 2 years, as its hydrophobic liquid repelling properties make bird turd removal a garden hose only affair.
Keeping a vehicle devoid of bird poo boils more down to where you park than where you live. Birds are everywhere on this little rock we call home, and the majority of their excrement is deposited onto our automobiles when they are stationary.
So choose your parking spot wisely, keep that exterior protected with a poop-repelling product, and clean routinely. Professional paint jobs and clear coat repairs are extremely expensive, whereas preventative maintenance and routine care is not.