Last updated on May 9th, 2023
Trees provide unparalleled beauty and tranquility in our outdoor spaces. However, the shade and shelter we get from most tree varieties also come with the risk of tree sap stains. These resin stains can be pretty stubborn, but knowing how to remove tree sap from outdoor furniture can make your outdoor living more enjoyable and stress-free.
To remove tree sap, gently rub it out with acetone or alcohol-based removers such as rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or hand sanitizer. Then clean the surface with a soap and water solution before rinsing it with clean water or clean white cloth dampened in clean water.
Table of Contents
How to remove tree sap from outdoor furniture
To remove tree sap from outdoor furniture, consider the material that has the stain. The methods you use to clean the resin will vary slightly from wood to fabric to metal. Ideally, there are instances where you’ll need to harden the wood sap structure – much like gum – to make it easier to remove the tree sap stains. In some other cases, you will just need to dissolve it.
How to remove tree sap from outdoor wood furniture
It is easier to remove tree sap stains from wood furniture when it (the tree sap) is dry, hard, or crystallized.
This means if the sap is still wet, you may want to solidify it before you proceed to remove it. Place a bag of ice on the fluid and allow it time to gel. The ice, in this case, will precipitate the resin and harden it.
Step 1 – Removing excess hardened sap.
Start by finding a sharp chisel or blunt knife for scraping off the excess, hardened, sticky sap from the wood surface. Place the dull knife or chisel on the wood with the flat side of the object resting against the wood surface.
Gently push on the top side of the knife or end of the chisel handle to pop the sap loose from the wood. You will want to desist from hitting the top of the knife or back end of the handle as doing so can cause the object to dig into the wood surface, damaging it.
Step 2 – Removing sap residue.
There are likely to be some traces of the dry sticky sap left on the wood after popping it out this way. There are several ways and household products you can use to clean this residue.
Method 1: Hand sanitizer or running alcohol
Alcohol acts as a solvent for tree or pine sap. It breaks up the resin and dissolves it, allowing it to come off the wood surface with ease.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol have one main thing: they both contain alcohol as the key ingredient.
To remove the sap stains residue, soak a paper towel or small piece of cloth in hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol, then lightly blot the stain with it. Try to avoid scratching the stain, as doing so might spread it across the surface and make the problem worse.
You may have to repeat this step a few times to get rid of the residue completely.
Method 2: Nail polish remover
Nail polish remover is something most women already have in their possession. You can wet a section of a clean rag with acetone-based nail polish remover and use it to clear the tree sap stains residue off your wood furniture.
Like alcohol, acetone will act as a solvent for the dry tree resin. Dab the rag with the polish remover onto the stains until the sap becomes soft, then wipe it off with a clean rag.
You will need to apply more polish remover and repeat the process if the first attempt does not get the job done.
In the absence of regular nail polish, you can use a lacquer thinner. Also known as cellulose thinner, lacquer thinner is a mixture of solvents that can dissolve several different resins or plastics used in contemporary lacquer.
You should be able to buy lacquer thinner from Amazon or your local hardware stores.
Step 3 – Washing away the sap stain remover
Both dishwashing detergent and specialized oil soap can be used to wash away sap stain remover along with any remaining pine sap residue from wood furniture.
If you choose to go with a dishwashing detergent, apply a small amount of the detergent to the affected area and rub it out with a cloth slightly wet with warm water. Always experiment on a small, inconspicuous area first.
Alternatively, add a cup of liquid dish soap to a gallon of warm water and mix well. Dunk a clean rag or nylon-bristled scrub brush into the cleaning solution and scrub the furniture with it.
Rinse the washed surface well to remove all the soap and cleaning agent residue from the wood; then air dry thoroughly. Any excess product remaining on the surface could collect dust and lead to mildew.
Besides dish soap, you can use a specialized oil soap such as Murphy Oil Soap Concentrated Wood Cleaner.
Apply the cleaner over the affected area and let it sit on the wood for up to 15 minutes, then scrub with a nylon-bristled brush doused in warm water.
Once all the residue has come off, thoroughly hose down the furniture to remove the cleaner and any remaining soap residue.
How to remove tree sap from outdoor metal furniture
Tree sap can adhere to the surface of any metal furniture regardless of how smooth it is. This can mess things up, especially if it is in a conspicuous area. And, plain soap and water will not remove the stain effectively.
Thankfully, there are quite a few inexpensive ways to eliminate this kind of stain. You can opt for household products you already have in your pantry or buy commercial options.
Method 1 – mineral spirits
Apply mineral spirits to a clean rag until it is damp with the spirits, then rub the affected area with it until the sap stains come off.
Use dish soap and warm water to wash the item to get rid of the mineral spirits along with any sap residue.
Let the furniture air dry before using it.
Method 2 – nail polish remover
Nail polish remover contains alcohol which effectively dissolves tree sap. Dampen a cotton ball with the nail polish remover and use it to remove the stain. To do this, gently rub the sap with the wet cotton ball until it is removed.
Finish up by washing the metal surface with soap and water, and allow it to air dry.
Method 3 – lard or bacon grease
The oils found in bacon or lard help break down the sap, making it easy to remove. Apply bacon grease or lard on the tree sap and scrub to remove the tree resin.
Remove the product residue by washing it away with soap and water. Rinse the metal well and let it air dry.
How to remove tree sap from outdoor wicker furniture
Tree sap can splatter on outdoor wicker furniture if it sits under a tree or if there are trees nearby.
To get tree sap off the furniture, try WD40, a product with several uses, including removing sap from surfaces.
If your outdoor wicker furniture has a protective finish or coatings, then WD40 is an ideal pick. The product is designed to be safe on most paints and finishes, so you won’t need to take so many precautions to use it.
It is still good to test the product in a small inconspicuous area before using it on the rest of the affected furniture.
As a solvent, WD40 will break down the tree sap, making it easy to wipe out.
Goof Off is another effective product that you could try out. It is a dried-paint remover that contains chemicals that will help break down sap and make it easy to remove from the wicker.
Spray the product on the resin stain and rub it with a clean rag. You may have to spray the product more than once to remove all the sap stains.
Once you have used either of these products on your furniture, ensure you rinse the lubricant off the surface. Start first with a solution of vinegar and water, and then hose the cleaned area down for a final rinse.
How to remove tree sap from outdoor furniture cushions
The standard way to clean cushions is to wash them with regular laundry detergent, but this method won’t remove the sap.
The first step, in this case, is to scrape off any excess tree sap from the upholstery. Use a flat edge, careful not to spread the stain further.
Mix two cups of cool water with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid to prepare your cleaning solution. Dip a sponge, nylon-bristled scrub brush, or clean white cloth in this soapy solution and scrub the tree sap stain with it.
Then, blot at the area until the liquid is absorbed.
If you are not satisfied, repeat the process until the sap stains are gone and the upholstery is clean.
Next, get a new white cloth and plain cold water, dunk the cloth in the water and sponge the area with it to remove the cleaning solution, and then blot the area dry.
You could also remove the resin stains with a dry cleaning solvent after removing the excess hardened sap.
As always, be sure to test the cleaning solution first in an inconspicuous area of the upholstery before going all-in with it. The idea is to ascertain it will not affect your upholstery before using it entirely.
How do you remove pine sap from patio furniture?
You can expect to end up with tree sap stains on your outdoor furniture if they are under trees or if you have trees around your outdoor area.
To remove the pine sap, consider using a flat edge such as a blunt knife to chisel away the excess resin. To get rid of the remaining sap stains, apply nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, WD40, or even mayonnaise to the stained area and let it soak in to break down the sap.
Dampen a clean white rag in the remover of your choice (from the options above) and gently rub the stains with it, careful not to spread them further.
Dip a nylon-bristled scrub brush, a sponge or clean white cloth in a solution of warm water and soap, and scrub the affected area with it till the cleaning agent has come off. Then, soak a white cloth in plain cold water and sponge the area with it to remove the cleaning solution, and blot the area dry.
For removable fabric, you can wash them directly in Murphy’s Oil Soap after chiseling away any excess sap. This will clean the fabric and remove the tree sap at the same time.
All you need to do is pour this soap into a bucket of water (the amount recommended on the container) and wash the fabric with the solution.
What you need to know when removing sap from outdoor wood furniture
Remember that crystallized or dry hard sap is the easiest to remove, especially from smooth surfaces such as finished wood or metal.
To remove tree sap, always start by removing the excess resin first, then deal with the sap stain that remains afterward.
Most importantly, always remember to remove the cleaning agent or soap residue by rinsing off the affected area with clean water or clean cloth soaked in clean water before air drying.
If you are going to enjoy the privacy, shade, and tranquility that trees offer in your outdoor space, then prepare to deal with the sticky tree sap.
While sticky tree sap can be messy, it is harmless and easy to remove if you know how and have the right tools.
Thankfully, this guide provides you with everything you need to remove tree sap from your outdoor furniture and coexist happily with any trees in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is tree sap dangerous for outdoor furniture?
The tree sap is not harmful to the wood, metal, or fabric on your outdoor furniture. However, it is sticky and can cause stubborn stains that trap dust and pollen. Not to mention that such a sticky surface could provide a foothold for mildew and molds.
Does vinegar remove sap?
Vinegar dissolves tree sap, so it will effectively remove tree sap from surfaces by breaking it down or dissolving it. You can then rinse it off along with the sap residue, as discussed in the previous sections, based on the type of surface affected.
Does WD4O remove sap from outdoor furniture?
WD40 is a stain removing product that is effective against several types of stains, tree sap included. Regardless of the material that has tree sap on it, WD40 is one of the best products you can use to remove the sap.
What will dissolve sap from outdoor furniture?
Though there are different products that can be used to dissolve pine sap from different surfaces, paint thinners and mineral spirits are the most ideal for dissolving sap from outdoor furniture.
What will dissolve tree sap?
There are several products that can be used to dissolve pine sap depending on the surface which is stained. Mineral spirits and paint thinners are ideal for dissolving pine sap on hard surfaces while rubbing products with high alcohol concentration like nail polish remover and hand sanitizers, is preferred for gentle soft surfaces.