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The Ultimate Car Bug Removal and Prevention Guide

Do enough driving, and you’re bound to encounter bug splatter on your windshield and hood—especially in the southeastern United States. In some regions like Florida where the Lovebug is a major problem, you need a game plan to protect your vehicle.

While there are a ton of DIY bug removal tips out there, today I’m going to share how to remove them in the safest way possible.

You’ll also learn what you can do to protect your paint or glass. And while *spoiler alert* there is no magic solution to prevent bug splatter, there are a few best practices to make clean-up easier.


Caution: A lot of chemicals and products can remove bugs, but some methods are prone to creating scratches. To avoid scratching your vehicle, never use a dry sponge, towel, scraper, or any other device on dry paint.

How to remove fresh bug splatter from a vehicle

Always work quickly to remove fresh bug splatter; the longer you wait, the more difficult bugs will be to remove…and the more likely they are to etch into your paint.

1. Rinse off the affected area to remove bug guts

Use either a hose or a pressure washer to blast away bugs while they are still fresh. Most of the time, you can remove bugs from a bumper with a pressure washer; just be sure to never exceed or approach around 2,000 psi and keep the nozzle a couple of feet away from your vehicle.

2. Use a microfiber towel and detailing spray

If you still have bug remains after rinsing with water, add water to a medium-pile microfiber towel (for lubrication) and apply a detailing spray to the surface. Gently graze the towel over the paint and let the towel lift these bug particles off your car. Never use heavy pressure or work in circles as you can scratch the paint.

Quick Tip

Did you know? Microfiber is designed to lift particles—including bugs—which is why they are used so commonly in detailing. These piles grab wax, dirt, and other particles from any painted surface

How to remove stuck-on bugs from a vehicle

For stuck-on bugs, follow the same process you would for fresh bugs before proceeding to other products. The fewer products or scrapers you use, the better. Whenever you have bugs that have baked on the paint, always use plenty of lubrication.

1. Apply a bug removal spray only to the affected area

Bug removal sprays can strip off wax, so I recommend controlling the area you spray (unless your whole hood or bumper is covered).

3M makes a professional-grade bug removal spray I recommend; while there are many of these products on the market, this is one of the better ones I’ve found. Wait a few minutes to let the product soften the dried bugs.

3M Bug Removal Spray

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3M bug remover spray

2. Gently scoop off bugs with a microfiber towel

With a damp microfiber towel, gently graze the towel over the area in a lifting motion. Repeat this process until bugs begin to flake off. Always start with a soft microfiber towel before proceeding to other bug-removal devices.

Bugs trapped in the pile of a microfiber towel.
Bugs trapped in the pile of a microfiber towel

3. Use a bug removal sponge for stubborn bugs…but carefully

Microfiber Mesh Bug Removal Sponge

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Microfiber mesh bug sponge

In some cases, you may need to proceed to use a bug removal sponge if a piece of the bug has etched itself into the clear coat. Gently graze the sponge over the area after lubricating the area properly. 

You can also use what’s called a bug removal towel, or waffle weave microfiber towel for bugs that won’t come off.

Image of a waffle weave towel.
Image of a waffle weave towel

These towels are great for cleaning bugs off your windshield too.

4. Try Citrol 266 for bugs that won’t come off

To chemically remove hard-to-remove bugs from your car, citrus-based degreasers can work, including a product called Citrol 266. This product can be hard to find but can remove bugs, paint transfer, and many other hard-to-remove substances like adhesive from painted surfaces.

Citrol 266 Cleaner and Degreaser

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Citrol 266 cleaner and degreaser.

Citrol will strip off sealants, waxes, and even some ceramic coatings, so be sure to re-apply protection. If Citrol can’t remove it, you’re probably not dealing with bug splatter at that point!

How to prevent bugs from sticking to paint

You can either use a paint protection film or a paint protectant like a sealant or ceramic coating to prevent bugs from sticking to your vehicle’s paint.

Paint protection films and front-end covers (bras) will help protect your paint despite showing bugs; sealants and polymer-based films can protect your paint to an extent but mainly help keep bugs from sticking.

If you need temporary bug protection in the summer for your front bumper or hood area, check out a paint sealant called Rejex. It was developed for planes in the Air Force due to its extreme hydrophobic properties and many car enthusiasts swear by it.

Rejex High Gloss Paint Sealant

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rejex bug prevention for car.

Use a ceramic coating with hydrophobic properties

If you want more of a permanent strategy to prevent bugs, I recommend an extremely hydrophobic ceramic coating that will create a super-slick barrier.

If you’re new to ceramic coatings, check out our post, Ceramic Coatings for Beginners. You’ll learn how they work and what to consider if your goal is simply to prevent bugs from sticking.

How to clean dried bugs off your windshield 

Last but not least…your windshield. To remove stuck-on bugs from your windshield, start with a bug sponge or waffle weave towel and a lubricant like car soap or glass cleaner. For extreme cases, you can even use a razor blade. Since glass is a lot harder than your vehicle’s clear coat, you can apply pressure and use harder objects to remove the bugs without scratching.

Check out our step-by-step tutorial, How to Clean and Restore a Windshield to learn how to remove haze, bug splatter, and anything else stuck on your windshield or glass.

Many ceramic coatings can also be used on glass for bug prevention; always protect your windshield with products that won’t leave a haze.

Good luck, and happy detailing!

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Car Bug Removal and Prevention Guide”

  1. It’s great that you elaborated on how it is best to have a professional apply a clear coat to your car because they will eventually need to be reapplied. My wife and I recently bought a new car, and we want to keep it in good condition for a long time. Having a clear bra applied seems like a good step in the right direction.

  2. I’m glad that your article mentioned how a clear bra is designed to stop small rocks from damaging your vehicle’s paint. My brother and I are interested in going offroading in the future. We’ll be sure to get clear bras for our cars before then.


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