Tips & How To’s

How To Get Sap Off Hands, Fabrics, and Hard Surfaces

Tim Parry


how to get sap off hands

We all love Christmas trees, but the sticky pine sap is tough and can easily get on your hands when handling your Christmas tree. It can also get on your hands when cleaning the gooey stuff off your car's hood after you parked it beneath a tree. So, are you wondering how to get sap off hands because soap and water alone don't cut it to get tree sap off hands?

What Is Tree Sap?

Tree sap is the sticky substance that oozes from at least 22 tree varieties in the US. The sticky goo-like texture of the tree sap gets to just anything it comes into contact with, including hair, clothing, skin, cars, and many more.

Tree sap is among the annoying substances in the world where if you touch a drop of sap, it will feel like you are in a battle of dish soap and water to wash off the feeling of stickiness. However, learning how to remove tree sap off hands doesn't have to be hectic, as pine sap can be removed with common household products. Below are some methods to easily remove pine tar from hands, fabrics, or cars.

1. Using a Hand Sanitizer

a). Check the ingredients of your hand sanitizer

Take your bottle of hand sanitizer and check the back of the bottle. Ensure it contains at least 60% isopropyl alcohol, ethanol or n-Propanol for maximum effectiveness. It is important because a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer won't remove sap. After all, it's the alcohol that dissolves the sap.

b). Rub the hand sanitizer on your Hands

Take the bottle of hand sanitizer and put a small amount on your palms and rub it vigorously. If any sap remains on the back of your hands, rub it over your whole hand.

If you have pine sap anywhere else on your skin, like your arms or feet, you can also use hand sanitizer. However, be careful to avoid getting sanitizer in any sensitive areas or open cuts on your body as it could burn. Also, remember that hand sanitizer with alcohol is drying, and therefore you should use it with caution if you have flaky or sensitive skin.

c). Wipe Down your Tools With Hand Sanitizer if Sticky

If you used any tools such as pruners or saws, and they have sap, you should wipe them to remove tree sap. Squirt a few pumps of your sanitizer on a paper towel, wipe the blades of your tools using a hand sanitizer then store them.

Sticky tools could dull your blades and make your tools stick together, and this leaves them unusable.

2. Using Home Ingredients

a). Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the go-to solutions for almost everything because it has multiple benefits. So you have dry skin, chapped lips, dry hair, and also tree sap. The answer is coconut oil.

To remove tree sap off hands, apply some coconut oil directly to the place where the sap is, rub it in, and allow it to sit. The tree sap should bind to coconut oil and rub off easily. Alternatively, you can use baby oil or olive oil to eliminate the pine tar.

Afterward, you should rinse your hands as usual to remove any greasy film remaining from the baby oil.

b). Cooking Oil

If you don't have any coconut oil, you can remove tree sap off your hands with the same process but by using the readily available vegetable oil or cooking oil.

  • Rub a small amount of vegetable oil over your hand.
  • Scrub lightly over the sticky sap spots for about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • When done, wash your hands using warm water and grease-cutting dish soap to remove tree sap from your hands.
  • If there are difficult patches, you need to get the remaining tree sap from your hands using baking soda.
  • Pour some dry baking soda directly on the tree sap and rub it using cooking oil to break it down.
  • Rinse your hands with water and grease-cutting dish soap to wash away the baking soda paste.

c). Toothpaste

Coat the sticky area with toothpaste and lightly scrub it between your hands. The abrasives in your toothpaste will get tree sap out within one to two minutes. Wash away the toothpaste using dish soap and warm water to finish the job.

d). Peanut Butter

Take a spoonful of peanut butter on your hands to get tree sap off. The same way peanut butter helps to remove gum from your hair is how it will be effective for removing tree sap from your hands.

  • Rub it in the covered areas and massage the peanut butter lightly onto your skin.
  • Use a hairdryer in the warm setting to soften when removing tree sap from your hair.
  • It should start with removing sap off your hands.
  • After washing your hands with grease-cutting dish soap and warm water, the remaining pine sap will be removed.

Peanut butter works the same as mayonnaise. For mayonnaise, you will need to allow it to sit for a few minutes before you rinse and then comb your hair.

e). Nail Polish Remover or Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, nail polisher, or any drinks with a high percentage of alcohol such as vodka can help cut through the sticky tree sap off hands or hair. These liquids may dry your hands out, but they effectively remove tree sap off hands.

  • Soak a cotton pad in some rubbing alcohol
  • Press the cotton pad against the tree sap and hold it in the area for about two minutes.
  • Rub your cotton pad in a circular motion to get the tree sap off your hands.
  • Once the sticky tree sap is not stuck on your hands anymore, wash the rubbing alcohol away.
  • If there is any remaining tree sap on your hands, use baking soda and dilute it in warm water.
  • Wash your hand with soap and water when you are done.

e). Warm Water, Salt & Honey

This method is the best to remove sap from your hands using a natural softening clean.

  • Take a large bowl and fill 2/3 of it with warm water.
  • Add two tablespoons of salt and a squirt of honey, then mix it.
  • Soak your hands in a bath for about three to five minutes.
  • Gently remove sap by scrubbing your hands.
  • Air dry your hands and proceed to wash them using soap and water to get rid of any remaining sap on your skin.

3. Use a Little WD40

Squirt some of the WD40 degreasers into your hand and use it foR washing your hands as if it's liquid soap. Take your time scrubbing the sap, and it should come right off. Ensure you wash your hand with soap and warm water immediately after finishing.

WD40 has mild-solvent properties that help break down sap easily, and the lubricant is safe for use on most paint types. While removing sap from a car, spray WD40 on the affected area, rinse with a water and vinegar solution, and wash as usual with a garden hose.

4. Use Loose Dirt

While pine sap is still wet and fresh and you are in the wilderness, rub some loose dirt into the sap. Wait until the dirt dries, and the dirt makes the pine sap breaks and prevents it from sticking too hard on your skin.

You can then use soap and water to remove pine sap off your hands and skin. If you can find some red rotted wood, it will be more effective for removing sap.

How to Remove Sap from Floors, Carpets, and Clothing

1. Test Your Cleaning solution on a Small Section

Before using your cleaning solution, test it on a small section of the surface you are cleaning pine sap off. Don't just spray WD40 on your clothes and try to rub it out, and this ensures you don't ruin the surface of your fabric.

  • Place a small drop of your cleaning solution on your surface and rub it in.
  • After 20 minutes, check to ensure the surface doesn't warp or discolor as a result.

2. Use Isopropyl Alcohol

Using some cotton balls, dip into rubbing alcohol (preferably 90%), rub the pine sap stain in a circular motion, and lift sap from your fabric. This method works for curtains, clothes, and carpets.

You should try removing tree sap from your fabric first before washing or drying your clothes, where it can harden the pine sap, making it impossible to remove.

3. Use Mineral Oil to Remove Sap from Hard Surfaces

Mineral oils are the best methods for removing sap from floors, cars, and any other hard surfaces sap may stick to. You should use a gentle oil-based cleaner where you will need to rub it onto the sap, and the sap will break quickly.

4. Use a Bug Spray

As odd as it may sound, some squirts from a powerful bug spray can loosen spa off your house flooring, car roofs and fabrics. Squirt your surface using a bug spray and allow it to soak for several minutes, and then rub it away.

Additional Tips to Get Tree Sap Off Hands, Fabrics, or Surfaces

  • The sooner you try to remove pine tar from your hands or fabric, the easier it will be to remove.
  • If you get tree sap in your hair, you can use vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol to remove tree sap. However, since it could dry your hair, ensure you condition your hair well to avoid it getting tangled.
  • Tree spa may seem harmless, but it can be a mess if you let it stay on your hands long after you set your Christmas tree.

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Tim Parry

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