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How to Remove Dried Grass Clippings or Stains On Car Paint

My first vehicle I negotiated for was a pretty trashed Corvette with dried grass clippings stuck to the side of the car, so this one hits close to home. If you’ve got a bit of dried grass on your vehicle’s clear coat, you do have safe options to remove it.

If you left your car beside the highway or had a lawnmower blow grass clippings on your car, it can be very difficult to remove these tiny particles if the sun begins to bake them on. What’s worse are those grass stains resulting from wet grass.

In this blog post, I’ll outline how to safely remove dried grass clippings from your vehicle as well as what to do if you have some staining that won’t come off.

Start with a Quick Rinse

water from hose nozzle

Even though water can’t remove all dried grass, it’s important to loosen what you can before applying any other products or any pressure. Sometimes the added pressure you can generate with a pressure washer can help, as long as you stay within a safe PSI range (no more than about 1,500 PSI).

9 times out 10, this will get rid of most grass that is relatively fresh if you catch it in time. However, if grass has been able to dry, it can be much more difficult to remove and you will want to proceed to using soap and other products.

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Apply Soap Liberally to the Surface

handheld pump sprayer washing car

The key to avoiding any kind of scratching when removing anything stuck to your car, is to avoid applying pressure unless absolutely necessary. Soap is a good way to loosen grass clippings from your car’s clear coat, once it has a few seconds to soak into the grass itself.

Many people don’t use enough soap when washing their vehicle, or low-foaming soap that isn’t too great at carrying dirt or grass particles away. Since soap is really what carries away the bad stuff on your vehicle, I prefer using a thick ‘snow foam’ that is specifically made for washing vehicles.

This type of soap produces really thick foam, and is meant to be used with what’s called a foam cannon. These devices basically spray foam on your vehicle so you don’t have to worry about scrubbing dirt (or grass) with a wash mitt, potentially causing swirl marks or scratches. If you’re curious, you should check out this post I wrote on foam guns and cannons.

Removing Stuck On Grass and Grass Stains

In some cases, it may be necessary to use products other than soap to remove grass if it’s been baked on for a while, or if you are still seeing grass stains. While there are many products that you could technically use (and would be effective), the ones I listed below are pretty easy to use and safe.

Bug and Tar Remover

bug and tar remover spray

One of the most affordable products to remove dried grass is a basic bug and tar remover, which typically will help to loosen dried grass as well as remove most stains. Never attempt to scrub with any kind of brush, but instead apply gentle pressure with a damp microfiber cloth until the grass begins to fall off. Repeat if necessary.

Clay Bar

car clay kit

Sometimes grass can appear to be embedded into the clear coat, in which case a clay bar may be effective.

Meguiar’s makes a clay bar kit that works pretty well in combination with a lube that comes with it. This should remove most stains and grass clippings off as long as you use plenty of lubricating detailing spray that comes in these clay kits. Clay is great for removing substances that soap has a hard time removing, like stuck-on grass clippings or any kind of industrial fallout type of substance that tends to ‘stick’ to the clear coat, even after you wash with soap.

You should notice the embedded grass should begin to stick to the clay bar.

IPA Wipedown

spray bottle ipa

The two previous products should remove most if not all grass stains, but one last resort is to use an IPA wipedown solution (basically diluted rubbing alcohol). Check out this post I wrote to learn all about how IPA (Isopropyl Alchohol) is used in detailing. Basically it will remove any wax and surface substance on your car’s clear coat, but should be used sparingly on an as-needed basis unlike a spray wax or detailing spray.


When it comes to grass clippings, typically these need to be softened or loosened with more than just water, but not impossible to remove. If you notice any faint scratches as a result of removing grass, you may want to apply a compound or polish if you know what you’re doing.

Scratching from grass removal really shouldn’t be a concern as long as you work slowly. Many of the products mentioned will also strip wax off your vehicle, so once the grass or grass stains are removed, be sure to re-wax your vehicle to protect your paint from future grass-related incidents :)

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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