Sow There! Hot weather means paint-eating goo and bug guts June 9, 2017

Berry splats on car paint, not a good combo.
Berry splats on car paint, not a good combo. Heather Hacking
No, it's not pretty and its a pretty darn tough job to remove all this tree gunk from the exterior of a car.
No, it’s not pretty and its a pretty darn tough job to remove all this tree gunk from the exterior of a car.
When you buy a new car you vow to wash it regularly, wax twice a year and never toss fast-food bags into the back seat. Six months later your car smells like dirty socks and you can barely see through the passenger side window.

Several months ago I bought a used Prius that has fewer dings than any car I have ever owned.

My old car was a Toyota Camry. When I drove it to the junk yard as part of the Cash for Clunker program, the gal was impressed to read 312,000 miles on the odometer.

That old car fit my lifestyle. The air conditioner worked great, the radio rocked, and I never felt inclined to give it a wax job. At home I park in the shade of my loquat tree, which dumps sticky fruit during the month of June. Over time, the hood of the car had so many scars, it looked like a distant planet in an asteroid belt.

In my mind, the car’s flaws provided protection from joy-riding car thieves who would be too embarrassed to ride without style.

My new (to me) car is shiny, and the loquat tree is dumping fruit.


For those who don’t know the loquat, there is good reason. Only a sliver of tart fruit surrounds a large pit. Squirrels suck some of the juice from each fruit, then dump the rest onto your car.

The pits end up everywhere, and the remainder of the year you’re yanking tiny loquat trees from your flower pots.

As for the hood of the car, the fruit dries quickly and will easily strip away the paint.


Bugs, fruit, bird poop — it’s the acid that bites into the paint job. Same goes for Halloween pranks including eggs and silly string.

At work, I sometimes park next to a woman whose car is covered with purple berry gunk, some of it which looks partially digested by birds.

She may have given up on the car during the drought, finding it difficult to meet her water budget while keeping her car unblemished.

As for my loquats, after half a day in the hot sun they become pliable. This would be perfect if I parked under an apricot tree, at least then I would have dried fruit.

If the loquats remain in the sun until 5 p.m. I’m dealing with burnt-orange tar.


With the Prius, I have vowed to be more vigilant.

Here’s my new trick. For several years, the Handsome Woodsman transformed his old underwear into household rags. I cut them into squares and store them in the laundry room.

The soaked rag square is perfect for covering a glob of fruit goo.

I drive a Prius, which means I drive slowly. I can even leave the rag on top of the car while I drive to work. After about an hour, the fruit stain is soft and easily wiped away.

If you’re wondering why I don’t cut down the loquat tree, the answer is shade. That tree is tolerable 11 months out of the year and keeps the sun from stripping the paint from the furniture in my bedroom. Life is always full of trade-offs.


I spent way too much time this week looking for miracle removers for bug and fruit guts. I’ll stick by my rags, but here are a few other gems. vouches for the miracle work of WD-40, Those helpful folks at Snopes also affirm that pigeons hate the smell of the degreaser, and spraying the tried-and-true goo might keep the critters from your yard statues.

WD-40 also removes duct tape residue and detangles jewelry chains. Who knew?

WHY WD-40?

Since we’ve already tiptoed into obscure facts, here’s a bit more from, In 1953 some very smart engineers at San Diego Rocket Chemical Company were trying to develop a degreaser for missiles. On their 40th try, they came up with a formula to achieve water (W) displacement (D).

Leave it to engineers to mastermind a great product, but drop the ball on creation of a clever name.

Contact columnist Heather Hacking at

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