Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Bug remover — best bug remover versus homemade

Best bug remover products and techniques

Let’s get this straight from the get-go, those homemade bug removal techniques don’t work (see details below). If you really want to remove bugs from your paint, buy actual bug remover products.

What you need to know about bug splatter

When bug meets your front bumper or grille area, their chitin and protein-rich exoskeleton shatters and their guts splatter onto your paint. Their “blood” is acidic and contains digestive enzymes that make their innards stick extremely well to vehicle surfaces, especially if left on the surface for more than 24-hours. The more the guts dry, the harder it is to remove the remains. In fact, if left on the surface too long, the acids can can actually etch into the paint. That’s why some care-care experts recommend running your vehicle through a car wash every time your fill up with gas when you’re on a long trip during bug season.

What you need in a bug remover?

An effective bug remover must first neutralize the organic acids left behind by the bug-to-bumper impact. Next, the remover must re-hydrate, penetrate, soften and loosen the physical chemical bonds between the bug remains and the vehicle’s surface.

Dryer sheets don’t work as a bug remover

Yes, I know you’ll see them listed online as a homemade bug remover. They don’t work. Don’t waste your time or money on dryer sheets to remove bug splatter. Why? Because there’s NOTHING in a dryer sheet that can neutralize, penetrate and remove bug splatter.

Dryer sheets are nothing more than a sheet of non-woven polyester fabric that’s coated with heat activated fabric softener, lubricant and fragrance. The softener may contain quaternary ammonium salt or a silicone oil-based softener. The fabric softener and lubricant is SOLID at room temperature and requires dryer heat of around 135°F to melt off the sheet and wipe onto your clothes. In other words, a dryer sheet coating has no cleaning ability whatsoever!

Why do people think they work? Because they’re abrasive. If you wet a dryer sheet, the water becomes the softener, but the sheet doesn’t contain anything to neutralize or loosen bug splatter. The only thing a dryer sheet provides is abrasion. So you’re literally scraping the bug guts off your paint.

WD-40 isn’t a good bug remover

The WD-40 material safety data sheets lists its contents:

• Low Vapor Pressure Aliphatic Hydrocarbon (basically mineral spirits)
• Petroleum Base Oil
• Aliphatic Hydrocarbon
• Carbon Dioxide (as a propellant)

The mineral spirit solvent in WD-40 has some softening ability, but it doesn’t have any neutralizing agents or surfactants, so it’s not a great product to use to remove bugs. It’s not nearly as effective as other products designed specifically for bug removal. People recommend it because everyone tends to have WD-40 lying around the house.

Meguiares Bug Remover & Tar Remover G1805

Meguiares Bug Remover contents

Butoxyethanol Solvent
Sodium Olefin Sulfonate Surfactant
C12-15 Alcohols Ethoxylated SurfactantMeguiars bug remover
Sodium Metasilicate Alkaline Cleaning Agent

Now we’re talking about some real bug remover components. You’ve got a neutralizer, solvent, and multiple surfactants to hydrate, soften, and debond the bug guts.

Spray the Mequiares Bug Remove Foam onto the bug splatter and let it soak for five minutes before removing with a microfiber cloth. Do NOT apply to a wet surface.

Mothers Speed Foaming Bug Remover & Tar Remover Product No: 16719

Mothers Speed Foaming Bug Remover contents

2-Butoxyethanol solvent
Isobutane propellant and neutralizer
mothers bug remover

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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