How to Remove Sap from Clothes

As soon as sap dries, it sticks to the fibers of your clothes and becomes a stubborn stain. Sap is easiest to remove when treated immediately, but you don’t have to throw away stained clothing. Rubbing alcohol, stain removers, and detergent are effective at breaking up a stain. Washing your clothing normally gets rid of any remaining traces of the stain. As long as you don’t set a stain by drying it, your clothing will look fresh once again.


EditTreating Stains with Rubbing Alcohol

  1. Freeze sap for a few minutes in the freezer. You only need to do this when you have a lump of sap on your clothing. It won’t come off easily unless you freeze it. Throw your clothing in the freezer or pack some ice in a bag over the sap. After a few minutes, it’ll harden.[1]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 1.jpg
  2. Scrape off the sap with a knife. Get a blunt butter knife to avoid cutting your fingers or your clothing. Hold the knife flat against the fabric and scrape it over the gob of sap. Be very careful when using the knife. The frozen sap should be brittle and break easily, so you won’t need to push hard.[2]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 2.jpg
  3. Pour some rubbing alcohol on a towel. Moisten an old rag, hand towel, or cotton ball with the alcohol. You can find bottles of isopropyl alcohol at any drug or general store. If you don’t have it, you may use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hair spray instead.[3]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 3.jpg
    • For leather, try saddle soap instead. A little bit of peanut butter may also work without damaging the leather.[4]
  4. Rub the alcohol gently into the stain. Blot the area with the damp towel. If you put a little rubbing alcohol on the spot directly, you can also rub it in with your finger or an old toothbrush.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 4.jpg
  5. Repeat the treatment as needed. You’ll most likely see the alcohol dissolving the sap stain immediately. For large spots, you’ll need to apply more. Use the rag again or apply extra alcohol directly. Rub the spot until it fades.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 5.jpg
  6. Launder the clothing. Wash the clothing as you normally would. You can put it in the washing machine and use your regular detergent. For the most effective cleaning, get the water as hot as it can safely be for the fabric you’re treating. To find this, look at the label on the clothes or search the fabric type online for recommendations.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 6.jpg

EditUsing Stain Removers and Bleach

  1. Pretreat the sap stain with a stain remover. Most commercial stain removers are capable of breaking up sap stains. A little bit of your everyday liquid laundry detergent may also work. Transfer the stain remover with a rag or cotton ball. Spread it thinly over the area you need to clean.[5]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 7.jpg
  2. Soak the sap stain for 20 minutes. Work the stain remover into the stain with your fingers or a toothbrush, if you’d like. Leave the clothing to dry in open air for at least 20 minutes. This gives the product time to loosen the dried sap, which is very difficult to remove through washing alone.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 8.jpg
  3. Wash the clothing on the highest temperature possible. The temperature you use depends on the kind of fabric you’re washing. Most clothing can be washed in warm water, which is usually enough to remove sap stains. Delicates and darks should be washed in cold water. Washing can be done either in a washing machine or by hand.[6]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 9.jpg
  4. Wash with bleach to remove tough stains. Your regular laundry detergent is normally enough to remove sap stains. For extra effect, you may use bleach. Chlorine bleach is safe to use on white cotton or cotton-polyester blends. You’ll need an all-color or oxygen bleach for any other type of clothing. Read the label information to ensure the product won’t damage your clothing.[7]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 10.jpg
  5. Repeat treatment until the sap is gone. No matter how tempted you feel, don’t throw a stained shirt in the dryer. As soon as that stain dries, it’ll be a nightmare to remove, especially if you used heat. Wash the clothing again or try isopropyl alcohol. It may take 2 or 3 rounds to fully remove the sap, but you’ll save a perfectly good piece of clothing.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 11.jpg

EditCleaning with Powdered Detergent

  1. Mix powdered detergent and water in equal parts. Get a small container and fill it with a little bit of powdered non-bleach laundry detergent. You don’t need a lot, only enough to spread over the sap stain. Start with a teaspoon of the powder and combine it with an equal amount of water. Stir the ingredients together to create a paste.[8]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 12.jpg
  2. Apply the paste to the stain. Transfer the paste and spread it over the area you wish to clean. This can quickly be done with your stirring spoon or another object, such as a sponge or rag.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 13.jpg
  3. Let the stain soak for 30 minutes. Leave the paste alone and it’ll begin breaking up the sap. Since it doesn’t have bleach in it, it won’t damage the clothing.[9]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 14.jpg
  4. Sprinkle non-sudsy ammonia on the stain. Non-sudsy ammonia is the clear, colorless ammonia you’ll often see at general stores. Spread a few drops of it over a stubborn stain. This is optional and can also be done for a stain that remains after a wash cycle.[10]
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 15.jpg
  5. Launder the clothing in warm water. Throw the clothing in the washing machine. Put it through a cycle using your normal detergent. Warm water is safe to use on most clothing, but increase the temperature if the fabric can handle it. Now your clothing will be stain-free until the next time you lean up against the wrong tree.
    Remove Sap from Clothes Step 16.jpg

EditThings You’ll Need

EditTreating Stains with Rubbing Alcohol

  • Ice
  • Knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag, paper towels, or cotton ball
  • Washing machine

EditUsing Stain Removers and Bleach

  • Stain remover
  • Rag or cotton ball
  • Water
  • Washing machine
  • Chlorine or all-color bleach

EditCleaning with Powdered Detergent

  • Powdered non-bleach detergent
  • Small bowl
  • Rag
  • Washing machine
  • Non-sudsy ammonia

EditSources and Citations

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