Dead bugs splattered in a car grill

It’s that time of year when the front of your car can look a grisly insect graveyard after a long drive. As well as appearing gruesome, the acids from bugs splattered at speed can also harm your paintwork. The key is to remove them as quickly as possible, and preferably with little effort.

Here’s how to clean up the mess, with limited elbow grease…

Cleaning bugs: no need to be abrasive

When you wash your car, you’ll notice that regular car shampoo doesn’t remove bugs. And if it does remove the remains of the bug, it won’t shift the stain they leave behind. The temptation is to get something abrasive and scrub it off. This may well remove the insect marks, but it will also remove the car’s clear coat finish that gives the surface its shine and most certainly a layer of paintwork.

Cleaning bugs: specialist products

There is no shortage of specialist products designed to remove bugs from your car. Available as sprays, wipes and aerosols, they are specially formulated to break the bond between your paintwork and the bugs stuck to it. Some are sold purely as bug cleaner, some are sold as bug and tar removers.

Which cleaning products work?

There are few independent tests of products like these. However, stick with products from established brands such as Simoniz, Autoglym and Turtle Wax and you’re unlikely to go far wrong. Motoring magazine Auto Express conducted a test of bug removers last year and rated Simoniz Insect and Tar Remover spray as favourite. “It was right up there with the best” testers concluded. It was followed by Kenotech Pro Anti Insect and Gtechniq W8 Bug Remover.

How to use bug cleaning products

If you go for a spray, you simply squirt it onto the area that needs cleaning and leave it for the prescribed time. The product goes to work dissolving the bug and its remnants without removing the paint. You can then clean it off with a damp cloth. The wipes are even more straightforward. However, if you are using a spray, most products should be wiped off before they dry or they’ll leave a mark almost as unsightly as the bugs.

What about dead bugs on the windscreen?

If you want to remove dead insects from your windscreen and they won’t come off with regular glass cleaner, car-cleaning specialist Turtle Wax advises drivers use simple baking soda. Bicarbonate of soda added to water, and then added to the windscreen with a wet cloth, will remove dried-on bugs.

How to stop dead bugs sticking to your car

The shinier your car’s paintwork, the easier it will be to get rid of the dead creepy-crawlies clinging to it. So, as well as giving your car that showroom sheen, waxing its paintwork will also make it easier to remove bugs.