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

posted by Andrea | 05/27/2019

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 had almost every single one professionally cut down — and we replace them with much prettier, much “cleaner” trees and shrubs (I’ll be sharing more landscape pictures and updates in a couple more weeks!)

We do 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).

A few years ago, I did a little research on how to remove sticky sap… to my surprise, the solution was so simple! I’ve been using it ever 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, then wash the area with regular hand or dish soap and warm 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 πŸ™‚

Just pour a little vegetable oil into your hand and rub into 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 bath time.)

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 washer BEFORE you put it in the dryer to see if the oily stain came out. If not, try the dish soap again.

This method also works 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 trashed because I didn’t feel like cleaning the super sticky sap… but since I’m pretty frugal, I usually cave and end up cleaning the toys!

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 t-shirt 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 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!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! 

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Filed under: HomeCleaning

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29 comments

  1. Liina

    05/30/2019

    Ugh! We have the same pine sap problem, but thankfully so far it’s only on our patio furniture and transferred from there onto hands. Rubbing alcohol takes it right off the metal patio furniture! I love rubbing alcohol to get sticky residue leftover from things like price tags too. If it doesn’t wipe right off, saturate a piece of tissue or paper towel in rubbing alcohol and leave it on the area, and it works every time! I will have to try the oil method!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good to know Rubbing Alcohol works so well! Thanks!

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  2. Carol

    05/28/2019

    Thank you so much for these tips.
    My go to dishwashing soap for removing oil is Blue Dawn. It is amazing and even removes the oil left on white collars of shirts and blouses.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Blue Dawn is AMAZING for so many uses. I always keep a bottle in the house!

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  3. Jennifer

    05/28/2019

    Any suggestions for getting sap off of a car? My husband parked under a sappy tree one too many times, and his car is covered in tiny drops of sap. They don’t come off with soap and water. Eek!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh boo — this sounds bad!
    I’m not sure about the answer, but I posted it as a reader question on my Facebook and here’s what others have mentioned!

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    Liina Reply:

    Try rubbing alcohol! It works on our painted metal patio furniture.

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  4. Jen

    05/27/2019

    Completely unrelated question: what type of fern/plant is that in the last photo with the flag?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    it’s an asparagus fern — they are my FAVORITE!! (They will actually be on my list of favorite things for June! πŸ™‚

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  5. Ann

    05/27/2019

    Shampoo for oily hair works well on oil stains on clothing.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh, never thought of this! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. 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!

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  7. 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]

  8. 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 […]

  9. 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]

    Liina Reply:

    Yes! Rubbing alcohol is my go to for all sticky stuff! It works great on pine sap!

    [Reply]

  10. 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.

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  11. Ali G

    05/25/2015

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

    [Reply]

  12. Gillian

    05/25/2015

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

    [Reply]

  13. 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]

  14. 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]

  15. 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]

  16. 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]