How to Remove Sticky Tree Sap from Skin, Hair, Clothes and Toys

posted by Andrea | 05/25/2015

sticky tree sap

Since it’s a holiday weekend here in the United States, and many of us will be spending time outside today (and later this spring and summer) I thought it might be fitting to share a quick tip to remove sticky tree sap from hands, clothing, hair, yard toys, and more!

Back when we purchased our house, we had about 35-40 very tall, very old, very scraggly looking pine trees that dripped sap EVERYWHERE.

We have cut almost all of them down and planted much prettier, much “cleaner” trees and shrubs in their place, but we still have a few of those nasty pine trees left… and somehow, our kids ALWAYS seem to get sap somewhere on their hands, toys, or clothing almost every time we’re outside (which is a lot).

So a couple years ago, I did a little research on how to remove sticky sap… and to my surprise, the solution was so simple! I’ve been using it every since — and figured it was about time I shared this little tip with you!

How to Remove Tree Sap from Skin:

This is actually the easiest remedy of them all — simply spray a little cooking spray onto the sappy areas, scrub for a few seconds and then rinse with soap and water.

This has worked every time for me in a matter of seconds.

How to Remove Tree Sap from Hair:

I really wish I didn’t know this tip — but I do, and thankfully, it’s also really simple 🙂

Just pour a little vegetable oil in your hand and rub onto the sappy area. You could even use a comb to scrape it out. Once the stickiness is gone, you can then just shampoo as normal (you don’t need to shampoo immediately, you can wait until it’s bathtime)

How to Remove Tree Sap from Clothing:

This is probably the most annoying process, and it’s not always 100% successful. However, it is fairly simple and doesn’t take much extra time.

The first step is to scrape off any pooling sap if applicable. Then let the sap-infected area soak in a little vegetable oil.

Now comes the tricky part — removing the oil from the clothing. Dish soap actually works really well at removing oil/grease stains so that’s what I usually use. However feel free to try any of your favorite stain/grease removing tricks.

You’ll most likely want to look over the item after it comes out of the wash and BEFORE the dryer to see if the grease stain came out. If not, try the dish soap again.

This can also work with fabric cushions for your outdoor furniture.

How to Remove Tree Sap from Toys:

I can’t even tell how you many toys I’ve almost just pitched because I didn’t feel like dealing with trying to clean the super sticky sap… but since I’m pretty frugal, I usually cave and end up cleaning them.

Of course, now Nora is my sap-cleaning helper, so it’s more fun to clean them 🙂

Whenever I find sap on our plastic toys, I simply grab a small dish and pour in some vegetable oil. Then I take an old rag, dip it in the oil, and rub over the sticky areas. Sometimes I need to use a putty knife to help scrape the sap off, but most of the time it just rubs off onto the rag. (I toss the rag when I’m done)

After the sap is removed, I wash the toy with a bucket of soapy water, rinse it with clean water, and let it dry in the sun.

I’ve had a lot of success with this — but I will say it doesn’t always work — especially if the sap has been on the toy  for a VERY long time (like over the entire winter).

So there you go — a super simple, quick tip to hopefully save you loads of time and frustration if you ever come into contact with sticky tree sap!

Enjoy your holiday weekend! 

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17 comments

  1. Dione

    09/13/2018

    Thank you!!! Your tips made it easy for me to clean my son’s favorite stuffed animal!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — gotta’ keep those favorite animals in tip-top condition!

    [Reply]

  2. Susan J

    07/03/2017

    Thank you for the hair tip. I usually wear a hat when I am cleaning up the needles and pruning dead branches under our huge spruce tree and over many years have never had any sap get on my hat. Today I got busy and forgot to put it on and of course, got a large blob of it in my (long) hair. A bit panicked, I googled how to remove and found your blog. Great tip and worked quickly, effortlessly and completely.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — glad to help you get the sap out. We’ve gotten lots of sap out of hair over the years!

    [Reply]

  3. Flavour Revolution – Toffee | Sip Advisor

    12/01/2015

    […] I loved climbing trees as a wee little sipper, I always hated how sticky the sap would make my hands. The scene in National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold is in […]

  4. Jennifer P

    06/06/2015

    A few years ago my oldest son got some tree sap on a pair of new, expensive basketball shorts. I used rubbing alcohol to remove the sap easily. Just dabbed/wiped it on with a cotton ball. As soon as I was done I washed it as usual. He was so happy because he had just bought the shorts and had only worn them once.

    [Reply]

  5. Mary Dinesen

    05/26/2015

    I had very good success using hand sanitizer getting tree sap out if my jacket. It seemed to disappear and I was able to wear my jacket without washing it afterwards.

    [Reply]

  6. Ali G

    05/25/2015

    I’ve successfully used isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) to get the sap out of clothes!

    [Reply]

  7. Gillian

    05/25/2015

    I’ve found Goo-Gone works too as well as for sticky labels that are stubborn.

    [Reply]

  8. Jennifer

    05/25/2015

    Very timely advice! Had to scrub tree sap off my baby girl’s thigh last night!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    did you eventually get it off?

    [Reply]

  9. Tina Watson

    05/25/2015

    WD-40 is my friend. It works on sap as well as paints and the like.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    can you used it on clothing? and skin?

    [Reply]

    Tina Watson Reply:

    Yes and hair followed by washing. Just stay away from eyes and such. I found it easier to launder away than oil from clothing.

    [Reply]

  10. Ann

    05/25/2015

    Shampoo for oily hair works for getting oil out as well. Not 100% of the time but often. (I often pair it with Fels Naptha soap just because that soap is my go-to for almost anything!

    [Reply]

  11. Jody

    05/25/2015

    I will reference this when we put up our Christmas tree. We always have sappy hands for a few days and nothing I tried has worked. Great tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I never even thought about christmas trees (we always use a fake tree). Good idea!

    [Reply]