How to Remove Tree Sap from Clothing


Sam asked: How do I remove tree sap from clothing? It is pine sap and little spots of it got on the back of my white t-shirt when I leaned up against the tree. Thanks!

Tree sap seems to cling to everything including skin and especially clothing. The removal techniques are similar to those of removing adhesives. The most success comes when you either lubricate the sap to remove it or dry it out so it will release from the clothing fibers.

You Will Need:

  • Cleaner (choose one)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Peanut butter
    • WD-40
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Nail polish remover
    • Goof Off
    • Cooking oil
  • Soft cloth
  • Laundry detergent

Steps to Remove the Sap:

  1. Begin by selecting a cleaner. When making your choice consider the type and color of the fabric. Avoid cleaners such as nail polish remover on colored clothing as it may affect the dyes. If you are unsure, test a small hidden area first to ensure that there is no damage or further staining from the cleaning product.
  2. Once you have made your selection, apply a small amount of the cleaner by moistening a soft cloth and blotting at the sap.
  3. If the sap is thick or the area is larger, pour the cleaner directly onto the sappy area and work it in with your fingers.
  4. Launder the clothing as usual with regular laundry detergent and warm water.
  5. Prior to placing the piece in the dryer, check to ensure all of the sap was removed.
  6. If any sap remains, repeat the above procedures.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • It’s important to ensure all of the sap is removed before placing the piece in the dryer. If there is sap remaining, the heat from the dryer can melt it and spread it to other clothing pieces.
  • Sunscreen can also be used in a pinch. Spray it on and rub it in. Launder as usual.


  1. Got this advice from a vet when my cat finally got down out of a huge fir tree and was a mess with pitch. Have since used it successfully on my own hair and clothes and car upholstery. Just rub the baby oil in slowly and the pitch pretty much dissolves. Works amazingly well and smells better than most other options too.

  2. Hand lotion of any kind will get rid of pitch. Used it on the belly of my puppy and it took it right off. Great for getting it off your hands, etc., and it smells nice!

  3. Use the butter. Rub it in to the stain and then wash with the soap.

  4. I got tree sap on my winter jacket. First, I let it dry, then I took a warm damp cloth and tried to removed as much as possible. Then, I followed this article’s advice, taking a warm damp cloth and a little bit of peanut butter and applying it to the area; it worked like a charm!

    Thank you, I love this jacket!!

  5. I let the sap dry on my black dress pants. Then, I took an old toothbrush and made a paste with my washing detergent. I gently rubbed on the spots where the sap was, then threw it in the washer. Worked like a charm!

  6. Sap-Free says:

    Rubbing alcohol, or surgical spirits as it is known in the UK, works amazingly well at removing dried tree sap from clothes. Very quick and clean, no hassle, no oil after stains; just great!

  7. I tried the rubbing alcohol technique from Sapfree (above) and it worked to remove the dried sap on three different pairs of pants, all made of high-quality stretch nylon and/or polyester from REI and Royal Robbins. Yay!

  8. Any suggestions for removing sap from a LARGE area, ie; kids basketball court? Some type of spray, or powder?

  9. I used peanut butter on my fleece sweats when they got sap on them, and it took the sap out! I’m glad I looked on this website, I never would’ve thought to try peanut butter.

  10. I sat on a bench and didn’t notice that sap was seeping out of it, and got it on the bum of my black shorts. I googled how to get it out and it said to use rubbing alcohol. Why not, shorts are destroyed anyway, right? Well, I rubbed the alcohol on the sap spots with a rag until the shininess disappeared, and then washed them in cold water and laundry soap. I now have my shorts back. Great job.

  11. I just used alcohol swabs on the seat of a pair of denim shorts in order to remove sap that had been dried after several washes.
    Brilliant advice! It worked straight away. It required a bit of a hard rub in the thicker spots, but all was removed.

  12. I just used 70% isopropyl alcohol on a patch of scrap fabric. It took the tree sap right off of my 100% wool pants.

  13. Coconut oil also works incredibly well; just rub on and it melts away, then throw it in a regular wash.

  14. Isopropyl alcohol worked instantly! Pour it on and let it sit for 15 seconds, then wipe it off. Wow!!

  15. I used the hand sanitizer version on my son’s Nike shorts and then washed, and the oil/darker residue still remains. Will try a second wash to see if that will remove it. Better than the sap was, but still not great. Hoping for the best!

  16. I used a dryer sheet and a clothes iron. Pretty amazing; just comes out. Don’t forget to fold the dryer sheet once or twice to protect the iron from sap. Then, put it in the washer.

  17. I tried the rubbing alcohol suggestion from Sap-Free on my Columbia polyester hiking pants and it worked like a charm. Some spots were gone before I even began wiping. And no damage to the pants.

  18. Thanks everyone for all the help about tree sap.

  19. My eight-year-old’s brand new school dress had sap all over the backside. I didn’t want to battle an oil stain on the fabric so I used nail polish remover… brilliant. Just dabbed the area and it came off. Thanks so much.

  20. We just had a BBQ today and I got sapped with my new dry fit Oakley white shirt. After reading this article, I tried the rubbing alcohol and brushed it off with a soft toothbrush. Works great; no sweat. Sap disappeared. Thank you!

  21. I tried the cooking oil option. The oil stained the blanket and did not remove the sap… will try isopropyl alcohol next.

  22. Klaudia says:

    Just got sap on a pair of my favorite shorts!! :( I’m on my way home to try to get it cleaned!!! Hope this advice works!! :/ Get back to you soon!!

  23. Try the alcohol; I tried it today. It works great. It takes some rubbing to get rid of it, but it does work.

  24. The rubbing alcohol works great. I just used it on a new pair of REI pants that I got sap on the first time out with them on… gone!

  25. I had tree sap on my black over shirt, and washed it in the washing machine and dried it. I didn’t think anything was going to get it out at that point. I used suntan oi;, worked like a charm. Washed it after; can’t even tell there was anything ever there. So, thank you for the tip!

  26. WOW! The alcohol really worked. I just poured some on the spots and scrubbed it with a tooth brush, laundered it and it was completely gone!

  27. I used blue cheese dressing (don’t ask!) and threw it in the washer; it came out!

  28. I didn’t have rubbing alcohol and used a liquid deodorant (it has a lot of alcohol) and it came of in a couple of minutes, with me removing it with my fingers.

  29. I used lighter fluid. It also worked great; came off right a way.

  30. The alcohol and P-butter sounds way better to use for getting pitch off skin than what my mom used on me as a kid…turpentine! Wouldn’t recommend that now. :)

  31. Malcolm says:

    Baby oil worked perfectly on my Golden Retriever’s nose. (Although I think that she would have chosen peanut butter!!!!)

  32. Got pitch on my expensive Kerritts riding pants. The rubbing alcohol worked great and didn’t damage or discolor the (black) pants. Thanks!

  33. It worked! Thanks!

  34. Another thing that works is hand sanitizer. You have to work at it and scrub it awhile, but it really works. I got sap that had dried for 5 days out of a fluffy cotton towel!

  35. I used WD-40 on hubby’s hooded dark blue sweatshirt and he had a lot of it. He was cutting pine lumber boards out of logs. I used a toothbrush and scrubbed it. It all came out in the wash, but I did wash it twice to make sure I got all the oil out of it and rinsed it twice also. But, it did a good job; no fading at all.

  36. Hand sanitizer worked like a charm.

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