Removing pine sap from tarp & tent

-- Last Updated: Sep-13-14 7:15 PM EST --

Anyone have a tried and true way to deal with this? I searched this forum and did not find much. Did a google search on removing pine sap from silnylon tarps and tents. Found suggestions all over the place: peanut butter, mayonnaise, bug spray, dirt, freezing, Goo Gone, scraping, etc., but little tried and true of what really worked. Don't want to ruin the waterproof finish on my tarp or tent.

Anyone actually dealt with this - would love to hear what you did, and how it worked.

Thank you.

Pine sap removal
Haven’t had to deal with that issue, as there are very few pine trees in the areas where I canoe & camp.

Would like to know a tried & true method, just for future reference.

One thing you noted was the use of bug spray. There is NO way I would even consider that method.

Sounds like a good way to destroy a rain fly or tent to me. I’ve personally seen bug spray dissolve bug netting on a tent; didn’t take it long to do it either.


Not sure about your H2O proof coating
I’ve used turpentine ( it’s distilled from pine sap) and naphtha to remove pine sap and pine tar. Tent materials are mostly nylon like polymers and will be resistant to this. Waterproof coatings I am not sure what would happen, you would need to test a small spot.

The old fashioned method is to let it freeze outside invert cold temps and scrape and cover with powdered dirt, you still have a bit of goo but it’s no longer sticky.

Of the home solutions that are commonly listed on various web sites the only one that looks safe for nylon is alcohol.

I believe REI recommends . . .
Kerosine. So turpentine might be just as good. Call an REI store and ask. I just got a new tent with maintenance suggestions, and this was suggested for pine sap removal. But I threw away the piece of paper so can’t double check it for you. Sorry.

If you just wanted to make it non sticky
You could try lavender baby powder, gold bond, or diatomaceous earth powder.

Yeah, you still have pine sap on the tent, but it still repels rain, smells better and repels or kills insects…

I get lots of eucalyptus sap on my canvas jeep top during the summer. When it finally does rain in the fall/winter before I park it inside, or if it gets sprayed with water accidentally, it releases an incredible scent when you’re driving it. I’ve actually seen hummingbirds come and check it and me out as I open the doors (hummingbirds here feed on eucalyptus flowers, the trees bloom during the wet season).

The canvas is so old I figure anything helps at this point, but the little tiny birds buzzing me, hoping I’d add a sugar syrup dispenser to it somehow are hilarious.

dry ice ?

White gas
White gas (naphtha), like Coleman fuel, followed by soap and water works. I have used it on urethane coated tents with no apparent ill effects. It would be as safe as turpentine, kerosene, or mineral spirits, or lighter fluid.


Try 70% isopropyl alcohol
It worked to remove a glob of pine sap from my truck. Does no harm, although it probably removed whatever wax might still be there from a year ago (doubt there’s much). I just poured a little bit on a paper towel, dabbed the sap, and it vanished.

I don’t know if it’d work on a fabric but it shouldn’t hurt anything and it’s cheap/readily available.

Kerosene, turpentine, mineral spirits…YIKES.

Sap or pitch?
First off what are you talking about removing? Sap is more of a liquid whereas pine pitch is the thick goey stuff. Pitch you can remove by freezing it and then scraping off as much as possible, then using Goo Gone or some WD-40 to remove what’s left. For pine sap just use Goo Gone or the WD-40 on it. Both have been shown to be the best at taking it off. Neither will harm your tent. I’ve used Goo Gone numerous times on my tents and tarps and also on all of my packs with no damage to to them or the waterproofing.

Doesn’t much matter whether its pitch or

Though rubbing alcohol takes care of the more liquid sap usually, all the above mentioned work too though I have not tried peanut butter.

The thought of smearing that all over my cars is not fun.

We live in a pine grove. White Pine. Everything including the roof of the house and cars is covered with sap or pitch. Don’t really care about the terminology… We can best get the pitch off the windsheild afer its old and can be razor bladed off.

Never really thought about my tent. You can probably just let it harden and peel it off so your tent isn’t stuck together. Could be a good reminder not to store your tent rolled up!

dont remove sap
Anything you apply to remove sap will ruin the waterproofing and most often you will not remove the sap.

Best to sprinkle some talc powder on it to prevent it from sticking and enjoy the additional waterproofing provided by the sap

freeze it.

Don’t use kerosene
It may well remove the sap, but it will leave an odor behind that takes quite a while to dissipate (days to weeks). Alcohol (isopropyl or denatured), white gas or turpentine are better choices for this. The odor from alcohol is gone in minutes, from white gas in an hour or so and the scent of turps may linger longer, but it’s not unpleasant (it smells like pine).

Citrus cleaners will also work, but I suspect that they’d be hard on waterproof coatings.