How To Remove Bird Poop Etchings From Your Car

If you’re someone that loves to keep their car clean, you’ll know how much of a burden birds can be (and I don’t mean girlfriends).

I’m speaking about those with wings. The birds that see your clean car parked up and decide to poop all over it.

Birds are a part of nature and many people enjoy watching them. But, for car owners, they can be a bit of a pain.

A lot of people don’t understand the damage that bird poop can do to the paint on a vehicle. It’s critical that you clean it off as soon as possible or prevent it from happening in the first place.

In this article I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about removing bird poop from a car. I’ll also tell you how to remove bird poop etching from your car, as well as simple methods to prevent it from happening again.

Why It’s important To Clean Bird Poop As Soon As Possible

While I don’t know the exact PH levels of bird poop, I can tell you that they’re acidic.

This means that when a bird craps on your car and you leave it, it begins to burn and etch itself into the paints surface. If you remove it as soon as possible, the less damage it will cause.

I’m not telling you to sit and stare at your car all day to make sure that birds don’t poop on it. I’m also not telling you to install an alarm so sensitive that it sounds when a bird bombs your car.

If you care about your car, what I am suggesting is that the first moment you see the bird poop, you should be cleaning it off.

If you’ve left it on for a couple of days, or noticed the poop after being away, that’s fine, don’t feel too bad. Just remove it as soon as possible to prevent it from getting even worse.

There are corrective measures you can take to remove bird poop etching from the paint of your car if you need too.

Removing Fresh Bird Poop From A Car

We’ve already established that it’s important to remove bird poop as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the paintwork of your car as well as etching.

Another reason to remove it quickly is because it’s so much easier.

Removing fresh bird poop takes very little effort. Soak it in water and product, leave it 5 minutes and you’ll be able to wipe it off with your favourite sponge.

When doing this, I like to use a pre-made bottle of Optimum No Rinse at a 256:1 ratio. This is effectively a “quick detailing” solution that will soften up the bird poop, and allow me to wash it away without the need for a rinse.

Or you can use ready to use quick detailers such as Meguiars Ultimate Quick Detailer. Just make sure to saturate the poop in product and let it soak.

Bird poop isn’t always “soft” even if it’s fresh. So make sure there’s plenty of lubrication to prevent and potential paint marring from occurring.

Removing Dried On Bird Poop

Leaving bird poop on your car for prolonged amounts of times is silly. Especially if you have access to cleaning products or running water.

The longer it sits, the higher the chances of it etching into your paint. You’ll also find it much harder to remove the bird poop from the paint, resulting in marring as well.

To remove baked on bird poop we’ll be using a similar solution.

I like to get a cheap sponge and soak it in Optimum No Rinse. I’ll also spray optimum no rinse onto the bird poop itself.

Again, you can use any other soapy solution you like. I just use Optimum No Rinse because I don’t need to rinse before or after.

Once you’ve soaked the sponge and the bird poop, leave the sponge on top and wait 10-15 minutes. This will allow the soap to work wonders and soften up the bird poop. From there simply wipe it off.

Another way to deal with baked on bird poop is to perform a full wash. This means soaking your car in a pre-wash solution such as snow foam or traffic film remover, performing a hand wash and then drying the car after.

When cleaning baked on bird poop from your car, try not to apply pressure to it. This will drag it across the paint and could cause scratches.

If you do cause light scratches, it’s not a huge deal. Because the bird poop was baked on, it’ll have probably caused etching too. This means you’ll have to take some sort of corrective measures anyway.

Removing Bird Poop Etching From Your Paint

Once the bird poop has been on your paint for a long time etching will occur. This is a result of the acidic reaction and there is only one or two things you can do to fix it.

Just like you’d paint anything else, cars are painted with many coats. You have the primer, basecoat and clear coat/lacquer.

Bird poop sits on top of the most outward layer, which is the lacquer/clear coat.

As you can see in this photo below, the acidic reaction starts to eat into the top layer, leaving behind marks and imperfections.

paint layers with bird poo etching

The only way to deal with these imperfections is to cut back that clear coat so that the damaged area is no longer there.

While this sounds scary to the uneducated. It’s not too hard to do. Most people do this without knowing it, using polishes, cutting compounds and products such as T-Cut.


The easiest and most safest way to remove etching and other defects from your paint is to polish them out.

This only works to a certain extent. Defects that’ve been on the paintwork for years or deep scratches are unlikely to come out.

As long as you’re tackling the etching within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll be able to restore your paint near enough back to what it was.

Both hand-polishing and machine polishing will work. But, machine polishing is the much faster and more effective method.

If you don’t already own a polisher, I’ve listed the best polishers for beginners here. I’ve also written a comprehensive guide on how to polish a car.

You’ll also need a polishing compound. This doesn’t need to be anything special, Meguiars Ultimate Compound should be more than enough to tackle minor defects.

Wet Sanding

I always recommend polishing first. You should always choose the least abrasive method first.

Taking sandpaper to your car is never really a good idea (especially if you’re inexperienced). However, wet sanding your car to remove scratches or paint defects such as bird poop etching is perfectly fine (if you do it right).

The most aggressive sandpaper that you’ll want to use is P3000. I recommend 5000 if you want to be extra careful. You may even want to finish it off with 8000.

Whenever you’re wetsanding, you’ll always need to finish it off with a polish.

Polishing will remove all of the fine scratches that you created with the sandpaper and make it look brand new again.

Just be careful when sanding. Don’t apply too much pressure as this could result in you causing an uneven surface in turn creating even more imperfections.

Preventing Bird Poop Etching In The Future

There are a couple of steps you can take to avoid bird bombs and potential etching in the future. In theory, these steps are relatively “easy” but some are expensive.

The first suggestion is to park in a garage. This is by far the most effective step, but not everyone has access to a garage or the money to buy one.

If you have a driveway, you could put up a gazebo or some sort of temporary building but depending on where you live this isn’t a storm proof solution.

My second solution is to get a car cover. I’m not really a fan of this idea though. I don’t like the thought of dragging a sheet across the car. If you’re doing it on your own and it’s a cheap material, it’s very likely going to cause scratches.

Also, the day that you forget to put it on is the day that the bird comes along and decides to bomb your car in bird shit.

Finally, while it’s not preventing birds from pooping on your car, it could prevent your paintwork from being damaged. You should always carry a quick detailer and microfiber towels in the trunk of your car. This will help you to remove any dirt, bugs or bird poop at a moments notice.

Doing this will help to keep your car clean in-between washes and help to prevent longer term paint defects such as bird poop etching.