How To Get Tree Sap Out Of Clothes

If there is one thing I wish I’d known when I was younger, it’s how to get sap out of clothes. I lost a lot of my favorite camping shirts to tree leaning. What can I say? They are nature’s way of propping us up when we’re tired!

Joking aside, tree sap seems impossible to get out. I’m sure we have all thrown clothes away out of sheer frustration. No more! This article will teach you the most effective method for getting sap out of clothing.

What You Will Need

  • Cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol (or other solvent listed below)
  • Dull knife (a putty knife works best)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Refrigerator with freezer
  • Washer
  • Drier

Additional Solvents:

If you don’t have any rubbing alcohol, there are some other common household items you can use.

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nail polish remover
  • Peanut butter
  • Off brand Deep Woods Bug Repellant
  • Cooking oil
  • Olive oil
  • Eyeglasses clear wipes

Alternative Methods:

  • Liquid detergent as a solvent. Some people swear by Tide and other enzyme-containing laundry detergents. However, we don’t recommend this as your first line of defense. The other solvents I listed work better and cost less.
  • Powdered detergent as a solvent. For this to work, you must mix equal parts of water and detergent to make a paste. The paste sits on the stain and is supposed to break up the sap. However, I found my method to be just as effective and cheaper.

Step #1: Freeze Your Clothing and Scrape the Sap

Open freezerWarning! If your garment requires dry cleaning, stop right now and take it to the dry cleaners!

Now that the warning is out of the way, we can get started on removing the stain. In this first step, you want to stick your clothing item in the freezer. Do not remove until the sap has hardened. By freezing the gunk, you can more easily remove any chunks.

After removing your garment, it’s time to scrape sap! Grab a blunt knife so you don’t cut your clothes. Lay the blade even with the bottom of the goop. Now, slowly and gently scrape it over the sap and try to avoid the material underneath. This should remove the largest pieces.

Step #2: Treat With Your Chosen Solvent

The primary ingredient in a lot of the solvents I mentioned is isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. This is one of the best products to treat your clothing with. If you want to get sap out quick and easy, choose a good solvent.

Work whatever you have picked into the stain. I recommend using a soft cloth such as microfiber or cotton balls. You should soon notice the stain disappearing. Don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease! I like to put on a bit more solvent and let it sit before finishing the job.

Warning! Try the solvent on the inside of your garment before applying it liberally.

Step #3: Wash Your Clothing Item

washing in washing machineThis step is pretty self-explanatory. After you remove as much of the goop as possible, put the clothing item in the washer alone. This is extremely important, as the sap can transfer to other materials in the machine. Multiple items covered with sap can be washed together.

Put in as much detergent as you typically would for the size of the load. Check the tag, and pick the hottest temperature your garment(s) can take. The hotter the water, the easier the clothing fibers will let go of the stain and the faster the sap will disappear down the drain!

Step #4: Repeat as Necessary

After the cycle has stopped, take out your clothes and check them for remaining stains. Sometimes it takes more than 1 cycle of scrubbing and cleaning to completely remove sap. It all depends on the age of the stain, the type of material, the solvent used, and the water temperature.

If you still see a stain, do not put the garment in the drier. Instead, go back and repeat step numbers 2 and 3. Those of you that used an oil-based solvent such as peanut butter or olive should make sure the oil stain is gone as well. This usually doesn’t happen, but in the rare case it does you can easily remove it with standard laundry detergent.

Pro Tips

  1. Make 100% sure all the sap is out before placing your clothing in the drier. If not, it may
  2. permanently melt into the garment!
  3. Instead of freezing, you can cover the sappy area with an ice pack.
  4. If the cloth you are using is too soft, try a toothbrush to really rub the solvent in.
  5. To save time, water, and money, use hot water from your sink to try and wash away the stain.
  6. If it won’t work, you’ll need to spend a little more time and elbow grease scrubbing.
  7. The recommended bug repellant can remove sap from car windows with ease!
  8. The final pieces of hardened sap can be difficult to remove with a knife. Try using the back
  9. side of your favorite type of sticky tape!
  10. Another alternative to freezing is using a hair dryer to loosen up the sap.

One Last Word About Tree Sap

Tree sap is widely known for how difficult it is to get out of garments. This results in too many innocent, comfortable pieces of outdoor gear being thrown away. No longer! Now you know how to conquer the dreaded tree sap and restore your clothing.

Do you have a tree sap horror story? An alternative way of removing this sticky substance from your clothes? Did you enjoy the tutorial?