Prepare for bug season with these helpful tips on keeping your car clean

By Brian Turner
Originally published: May 19, 2015

While most of us know that there are two driving seasons in Canada, winter and construction, in reality there’s a third: bug season. It’s as if those dastardly little multi-legged critters actually conspire to turn a freshly washed vehicle into a biology-class display of every species of insects known to man. But there’s more to the splatter than the inconvenience of redoing your Saturday morning driveway carwash; the right insect cadaver, left to its own devices, can permanently damage the finish on most autos. Here are a few tips/hacks to keep your ride bug free this year.

Don’t let the pressure get to your car. While it’s tempting to simply blast the bug guts off your vehicle with a pressure washer; this practice damages more exterior trim items than anything else. The best way is to soak the affected areas first with a thorough low-pressure rinse followed by a generous application of car-wash suds with a wash mitt. Never use household cleaners or detergents on painted surfaces as these can mar the finish. Work in small areas (preferably while parked in the shade) and thoroughly rinse each area as it’s completed. Resist the urge to use any abrasive cleaners or applicators. When dealing with bug splatters, use a generous application of car-wash suds and clean the area with a wash mitt. When dealing with bug splatters, use a generous application of car-wash suds and clean the area with a wash mitt.

Ivory is good for more than the baby. There are a few common insects that can damage your vehicle’s paint just by landing on it. They secrete a very acidic bodily fluid and if left long enough, it can eat its way down to bare metal. It’s easy to spot these stains because they don’t come off with normal washing and they’re usually the size of a quarter coin. This time, it’s OK to head into the house for a solution as long as your bathroom is supplied with Ivory bar soap. The stearic acid in the soap is the key ingredient that will remove the stains. Simply create a small amount of soap paste by rubbing a wet face-cloth on the bar. Apply this paste to the stain without any excessive rubbing and let it sit for only a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse it off and the stain should be gone. If there’s any noticeable fading still left, you may have waited too long to tackle the stain.

How to keep it clean. After you’ve got your ride bug-free and spotless, the easiest way to keep it clean is to give it a good coat of wax. Stay away from coloured or tinted waxes or anything marked “polish” and stick with a quality brand such as Turtle or Meguiar’s. The wax will create a barrier between your car and the bugs and make it easier to rinse off the next batch of Kamikaze bugs that splat your ride. Windshields can benefit from their own coating; rain treatments such as Rain-X or Aquapel. These are easy to apply and can also extend your wiper system lifespan as at highway speeds you will seldom need the wipers to improve vision in the rain; it will bead right off.