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Best Bug Remover For Cars/Trucks/RVs: Less Effort = More Fun

Best Bug Remover For Cars/Trucks/RVs: Less Effort = More Fun

Whether you’re just out for a drive, taking a weekend road trip, or crossing the country, there’s nothing quite like hitting the open road in your car, truck, or RV. But that often means getting bugs on your vehicle’s exterior. Since dead insects as well as other debris such as tar and sap can be bad for your vehicle’s paint if left in place, today’s post focuses on the best bug removers for cars, trucks, and RVs.

What Are the Best Bug Removers for Cars, Trucks, and RVs?

There are several helpful tools for removing bug splats from vehicles. Ideally, the best bug removers will also get rid of tar, bird droppings, and even tree sap. All of these contaminants are bad for a vehicle’s finish and aren’t always removed with a run through the car wash (especially removing tar or sap).

While washing your car regularly is great, bugs, tar, sap, etc, can require some elbow grease. But you need to be careful about what products you use because some can damage the paint job, especially when used too aggressively.

If your windshield is the primary problem (it often is, since it’s usually the first thing you’ll notice), also make sure to check out our post on how to super clean your windshield super fast!

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to rid your car, truck, or RV of anything that sticks to the vehicle’s finish.

Bug Remover Sprays

Bug removers that come in spray bottles offer a convenient way to tackle stubborn insect residue on your vehicle’s surface. They’re formulated to break down the proteins and acids found in bugs, making it easier to wipe them off. Here are a couple of popular removers of bugs and other residue:

Meguiar’s Bug and Tar Remover

We’re big fans of Meguiar’s car care products. A respected name in car care, Meguiar’s offers a spray foam bug and tar remover that seems to live up to the brand’s reputation. It’s effective, easy to use, and safe for all paint finishes.

Meguiar's G180515 Bug & Tar Remover, 15 Ounces
  • Heavy-duty car bug cleaner effectively removes bugs and tar from your paint finish
  • Professional-strength clear coat safe technology is tough on bugs but easy on paint and all exterior surfaces

Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit

This kit includes three no-scratch clay bars, a microfiber cloth, and a full-size bottle of Meguiar’s Kwik Detailer. This is a great option for all affected areas at a reasonable price.

Meguiar’s G191700 Smooth Surface Clay Kit - Includes 180 Grams of Clay Bars, Quik Detailer Spray Bottle and Microfiber Towel
  • QUICK CAR CLAYING: Quickly and easily removes bonded surface contaminants like paint overspray, industrial fallout, tree sap mist, road tar and more
  • GLASSY, SMOOTH FINISH: After using clay, wipe with Supreme Shine Microfiber Towel to restore a smooth, glassy finish

Chemical Guys Bug and Tar Remover

This solution is known for its powerful bug-dissolving formula. It removes bugs, tar, grime, tree sap, and bird droppings while being safe for your vehicle’s clear coat. It’s concentrated so just one capful in a gallon of water does the job.

Chemical Guys CWS_104_16 Concentrated Bug and Tar Remover Car Wash Soap (Works with Foam Cannons, Foam Guns or Bucket Washes) Safe for Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, RVs & More, 16 fl. Oz
  • A must own for commuters, truckers, couriers, and fleet vehicle owners
  • Safely removes bugs, tar, grime, tree sap and bird droppings

Bug Sponges and Mitts

Bug sponges and mitts are often used in combination with a bug remover spray. They’re great for gently scrubbing away bug residue without causing damage to your vehicle’s paint. Here are a couple of popular options:

McKee’s 37 Road Kill Bug Scrubber

Reviewers say that this one is actually great for removing bug splats from vehicles without the need for any type of bug remover spray. With just some soapy, warm water and a little elbow grease, this bug scrubber should get the job done.

According to the manufacturer, these sponges are 100% paint and clearcoat safe, so they won’t scratch your rig’s finish.

McKee's 37 Road Kill Bug Scrubber, (2 Pack)
  • The honey-comb design of the McKee's 37 Road Kill Bug Scrubber traps bugs and foreign particles as it removes them from your paint, ensuring the...
  • Dirt and grime is easily removed from the sponge, making it reusable hundreds or even thousands of times

The Absorber

We love The Absorber from Cleantools for drying our motorhome and car after washing. This high-quality chamois can also help remove remaining bug splatter after washing. It’s super absorbent and won’t scratch your vehicle’s finish.

You can dry your entire rig with The Absorber, then rinse and wring it out, store it in its included case, and it’s ready for the next use.

CleanTools The Absorber Synthetic Premium Drying Chamois Cloth for Car: Super Absorbent, Scratch-Free and Washable | 27-Inch x 17-Inch, Natural, Large (PN: 14943-149)
  • EXCELLENT ABSORBENT. Spend less time drying and more time enjoying life.
  • SOFT & SAFE. Easy on your hands and easy on your car.

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels are helpful for wiping down and drying your vehicle after using a bug remover spray. They’re soft, absorbent, and won’t leave scratches or swirl marks. They’re great for so many other uses, too. Here are a couple of good options for quality microfiber towels:

Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels

Meguiar’s microfiber towels are known for their softness and durability, they’re ideal for wiping away bug remover residue without causing damage to your vehicle’s finish. These microfiber towels are also great for waxing and fully detailing your car, truck, or RV. They’re gentle and don’t leave streaks or swirls.

Meguiar's X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels - 3 Pack
  • FAST RESULTS: The easiest and fastest way to remove compounds, polishes, waxes, and spray detailers
  • SHOW CAR RESULTS: The ultimate polishing towel to use on paint, glass, plastic and chrome for show-car perfect results

Chemical Guys Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels

Chemical Guys also offers high-quality microfiber towels that are great for detailing a car, truck, or RV or for using with the best bug and tar removers. They’re soft, lint-free, scratch-free, absorbent, and have silk edging.

Chemical Guys MIC_506_03 Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels, Gold (16 Inch x 16 Inch) (Pack of 3) - Safe for Car Wash, Home Cleaning & Pet Drying Cloths
  • PREMIUM MICROFIBER TOWELS - Chemical Guys Pro-Grade towels are fluffy and soft; perfect for final-touch wiping because they are lint and scratch free;...
  • VERSATILE DETAILING TOWEL - Although the fluffy and soft texture of the Premium Microfiber Towel is perfect for final touch detailing, the dual-weave...

Homemade Bug Removers

Sometimes, the best way to remove bugs from cars, trucks, and RVs is to do it before the sun has a chance to bake the residue onto the vehicle’s paint. If you take a long drive and notice a fair amount of bug splatter when you get home, your best car bug remover (or RV bug remover as the case may be) might be something you’ve got right on hand.

This is where the DIY approach can be really useful — before bugs get really dried and hardened onto your rig. If you don’t have a commercial product for removing bugs, tar, or sap handy and want to get the job done quickly, you can make your own residue removal product.

White Vinegar

One popular recipe involves mixing equal parts water and white vinegar. This homemade solution can break down bug residue and is best used in combination with a microfiber towel. Once you’ve successfully removed the bug residue, rinse thoroughly with plain water.

Rubbing Alcohol

Another “quick fix” for removing residue from a vehicle using something you may have on hand is to use rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. But don’t put pure rubbing alcohol directly on your vehicle’s paint. Instead, dilute the alcohol with water to around a 20% concentration (80% water). This is also a good way to remove oily spots before applying car wax.

As with vinegar, once the residue has been successfully removed, thoroughly rinse the area with plain water.

Our Mountain Aire came from Newmar with a Diamond Shield protective layer on the nose. We found that regularly treating the Diamond Shield with Aerospace 303 Protectant (which keeps the plastic film pliable and helps protect it from UV rays) also made bugs easier to remove.

For stubborn stains from bugs left on too long, we’d gently rub the area using a soft cloth and some isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or some Meguiar’s Quik Detailer (have we mentioned that Quik Detailer is one of our favorite things ever invented?!) We’d then re-coat the Diamond Shield with Aerospace 303.

Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Detailer - 24 Oz Spray Bottle
  • NEW POLYMER CHEMISTRY: Provides an easier wipe off and slicker finish
  • ACHIEVE A JUST-WASHED LOOK: This quick spray detailer safely and quickly removes dust and surface contaminants between washings
303 Aerospace Protectant UV Protection Repels Dust, Dirt, and Staining Smooth Matte Finish Restores Like-New Appearance 10 Fl Oz
  • Ultimate Protection – 303 Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust, lint, and...
  • Non-Greasy – Dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your outdoor furniture, spa and pool covers, vinyl...

Wet Dryer Sheets

We’ve never tried this ourselves, but many people swear by wet dryer sheets as really great bug removers. Supposedly, the softening agents in the dryer sheets help break down and remove the bug guts. If you decide to try this, be sure to thoroughly rinse/wash the dryer sheet residue off afterward (and let us know how it worked for you in the comments section below).

Important Note:

Some commercial and DIY products used for bug and residue removal may also remove the wax from your vehicle’s finish. Knowing this before you use them is important so you can either choose a different solution or re-wax the area afterward. In case we haven’t mentioned it recently, we absolutely LOVE Meguiar’s Ultimate Wax! (Trust on this one, especially for large vehicles. Nothing goes on or comes off easier, and the shine is awesome.)

Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax, Durable Protection that Shines - 20 Oz Bottle
  • IMPROVED FORMULA: Improved formula delivers a glossier finish, increased protection and more water beading action in one easy step
  • EASY TO USE WAX: Easy spread on and wipe off application – even in full sun

There are a number of bug and residue removers and other tools like kits, sponges, and microfiber cloths to make the task easier and more efficient. But whether you use a commercial product or a homemade solution, removing bug splatters, tar, and sap as soon as possible after they hit is best. As always, read reviews and instructions before using any product on your vehicle.

Have a look at our annual RV maintenance and spring cleaning routine:

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Thursday 16th of November 2023

I'm in the group for dryer sheets. When I first read about it I thought it was one of those internet fairy tales, but I tried it and I was amazed. I put one or two sheets in a spray bottle, filled it with water, and sprayed that on the bugs on the front of my truck. Then I wiped them off very easily with another dryer sheet.


Friday 17th of November 2023

That's great to hear! Thanks for sharing your experience, Chazman! Happy de-bugging! 🦟🧽

John Lee

Sunday 5th of November 2023

I bought a recommended bug cleaner and it had a specific method for application involving keeping the area wet with the product for 15 minutes. Not quick but it worked. I then thought about how a rain storm while driving cleans the bugs very well and tried the 15 minute protocol with plain tap water and it worked as just as well as the bug product. (which was no doubt mostly water.)

Now I have a spray bottle of water and wet my bug area and keep it wet for 10 to 15 min, respraying every 5 min or so. The bugs fall off or are wiped off easily. I can even clean my soft plexi motorcycle windscreen this way. Do you think I can put a fancy label on my spray bottle of water and sell it for $14.95??


Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Yeah... often, patience (and/or a little elbow grease) are all it takes to avoid having to use a custom tool/solution/product! Glad the wetting with water trick is working for you, John! Though we think you'll have trouble with it as a product idea! 😉


Sunday 5th of November 2023

Even for the "love bugs", never have found anything better than the wetted dryer sheets.


Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Love bugs are brutal! Glad to hear the dryer sheets have worked for getting them off!

Max Shaver 3

Sunday 5th of November 2023

Best I've found for removing bugs is Procell's Bug's and All

Ken Kimball

Sunday 5th of November 2023

Thanks for the information, tried dryer sheets works great!


Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Glad to hear, Ken! Thanks for sharing!

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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