Driving down the highway with the top down on a sunny day can be an exhilarating feeling. However, dealing with bird droppings on your tonneau cover afterward is far from pleasant.
Bird poop stains not only look unsightly but can also damage your tonneau cover if left untreated. Fortunately, with the right cleaning methods and tools, you can banish those pesky bird poop stains for good.
What Causes Bird Dropping Stains on Tonneau Covers?
Bird droppings contain uric acid, which can eat away at fabric, vinyl, and other tonneau cover materials over time. The longer the bird poop sits on your tonneau cover, the deeper it can penetrate and stain.
Exposure to sunlight also exacerbs the staining effect, as UV rays break down the uric acid into whitish crystals that bond to the surface. This photobleaching effect is why you often see white splotches around old, dried bird droppings.
How Can I Prevent Bird Poop Stains on My Tonneau?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to avoiding bird poop stains:
- Park your truck in a covered garage when possible. This will limit bird access and exposure to UV light.
- Wipe off fresh droppings immediately with a wet microfiber cloth. Don’t let them sit.
- Treat your tonneau cover with a protectant containing UV blockers. This will help resist staining.
- Check for droppings before storing your tonneau cover and clean as needed. Stains can set in over time.
What’s the Best Way to Remove Dried Bird Poop?
If you’re dealing with dried, caked-on bird droppings that have been there a while, you’ll need to break down the staining compounds. These removal tips can help restore your tonneau cover:
Can I just scrape off dried bird poop?
Scraping hardened bird droppings off your tonneau cover with your fingernail or a plastic putty knife can work in a pinch. But this can potentially scratch or damage the vinyl or fabric. It’s better to try dissolving the poop first.
Will soapy water remove dried bird droppings?
For light staining, a mild soap and warm water solution may suffice to loosen and lift away poop stains from tonneau cover fabric or vinyl.
- Mix a few drops of dish detergent or laundry soap into a spray bottle filled with warm water.
- Lightly mist the stain and let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Wipe away with a soft microfiber cloth, using gentle circular motions.
- Rinse the area afterward with clean water to remove soap residue.
For tougher, set-in stains, soapy water alone may not cut through the uric acid bonds. Adding an oxygen cleaner can help break things down further.
Does hydrogen peroxide remove bird poop stains?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide is an effective bird poop stain remover due to its oxidizing properties. When hydrogen peroxide contacts the uric acid residues, it breaks them down into water and oxygen.
Follow these steps to remove bird droppings with hydrogen peroxide:
- In a spray bottle, mix together 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water.
- Liberally spray the stain and let bubble for 2-3 minutes.
- Wipe away softened poop with a damp cloth.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water afterward.
- For tough stains, reapply and let sit longer before wiping.
Can bleach whiten bird poop stains on tonneau covers?
Bleach is a strong whitening agent that can blast away bird poop discoloration. However, bleach can also damage, discolor, or fade vinyl and fabric tonneau cover materials with prolonged exposure.
If you want to try using bleach:
- Spot test first on an inconspicuous area of the tonneau cover.
- Mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water to make a gentle 10% solution.
- Spray on stain and wipe immediately with a clean damp cloth.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Never let bleach solution sit on the tonneau cover, as it can cause irreparable damage.
Will baking soda and vinegar remove set-in bird poop stains?
Making a paste with baking soda and vinegar can make for an effective stain-fighting duo:
- Sprinkle baking soda generously over the stained area.
- Spritz on some distilled white vinegar.
- Let the fizzing paste sit for 2-3 minutes.
- Wipe away with a damp cloth.
The alkaline baking soda combined with the acidic vinegar helps dissolve uric acid staining on a chemical level. Just be careful not to let the paste sit too long, as vinegar can damage vinyl over time.
How Can I Remove Fresh Bird Poop?
The sooner you can wipe away wet bird droppings, the better. Here are some tips:
Should I scrape off fresh bird poop?
Yes, you can carefully scrape off wet, fresh bird droppings with a plastic putty knife or old gift card. Try to remove as much of the poop as possible before wiping the area.
Just be gentle scraping near stitching or vinyl seals, as you don’t want to scratch or gouge the tonneau cover.
Does water remove fresh bird poop?
For vinyl tonneau covers, spray the fresh staining with water to help dilute the uric acid and make it easier to wipe away.
For fabric covers, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and dab at the stain rather than directly spraying. Too much water can seep through fabric and potentially damage the truck bed underneath.
Be sure to fully rinse vinyl or fabric afterward so no poop residue remains.
Can I use rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or mineral spirits?
Light solvents like isopropyl alcohol, acetone nail polish remover, or mineral spirits can dissolve fresh bird droppings on vinyl or painted tonneau covers. They help break down uric acid residues quickly before they have a chance to set in.
However, these solvents can easily damage fabric tonneau covers. Test on an inconspicuous vinyl area first. And make sure to hand wash the area with water afterward to eliminate any solvent residue.
What about bug and tar remover sprays?
Spray-on gel formulas designed for removing tree sap, bugs, and road tar from vehicles can also work well for dissolving fresh bird droppings. The citrus- or soy-based formulas are safer for vinyl and fabric tonneau covers than harsh solvents.
Just be sure to test on a small area first and rinse thoroughly after use. Longer dwell times or higher concentrations may lead to discoloration.
Tips for Removing Bird Poop From Different Tonneau Cover Materials
Cleaning methods can vary slightly depending on whether your tonneau cover is made of vinyl, canvas fabric, or coated polyester fabric. Here are some material-specific tips:
How to Remove Bird Poop from Vinyl Tonneau Covers
Vinyl tonneau covers stand up well to chemical cleaners but can be damaged by abrasives. Follow these guidelines:
- Stick to non-abrasive soft cloths and sponges when wiping vinyl.
- Avoid scraping at dried poop to prevent scratching. Soak and dissolve it instead.
- Hydrogen peroxide, bleach, alcohol, or tar remover gel can be used safely if rinsed promptly.
- Harsh solvents like mineral spirits may degrade vinyl over time.
Cleaning Canvas Fabric Tonneau Covers
Canvas tonneau covers are durable but more prone to water damage and fading. Take these precautions:
- Blot fresh stains rather than rubbing vigorously.
- Avoid excessive water when rinsing to limit seepage into the truck bed.
- Let canvas dry thoroughly before replacing the tonneau cover.
- Avoid bleach, which can discolor canvas over time.
How to Clean Coated Polyester Tonneau Covers
Polyester fabric tonneaus feature vinyl-like coatings for water resistance and UV protection. But the fabrics still require gentler cleaning:
- Use only mild soap and water solutions. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
- Avoid solvents like alcohol or tar remover, which can damage coatings.
- Limit bleach solution contact time to prevent fading.
- Carefully hand wash only. Power washing or machine washing can damage the coating and seams over time.
Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Bird Poop From Tonneau Covers
Follow these key steps for best results removing bird droppings from your tonneau cover:
Inspect and identify the staining
- Examine the bird poop stain closely. Is it a light surface stain or deeper discoloration? How long has it been there? The longer it has set in, the tougher it will be to remove.
- Note what material your tonneau cover is made of. This will determine what cleaning solutions are safe to use.
Test potential cleaners in an inconspicuous spot
- Try out any new cleaning solution on an area that’s not highly visible. Check that it doesn’t damage or discolor the vinyl or fabric.
Loosen dried poop stains
- Cover hardened poop with hydrogen peroxide or baking soda paste. Let it sit and bubble for 2-3 minutes to soften the stain.
Gently wipe away softened poop
- Use a soft, damp microfiber cloth to carefully wipe off loosened bird droppings. Avoid abrasive rubbing or scrubbing.
- For vinyl, also try a soft sponge or non-abrasive wash mitt.
Rinse and repeat as needed
- Thoroughly rinse the area with clean water when done cleaning to eliminate any residue.
- For tough stains, reapply cleaner and wipe again until the discoloration lifts.
Blot wet stains immediately
- For fresh bird droppings, blot gently with a dry section of the microfiber cloth. Try to absorb as much liquid as possible before wiping.
Dry and protect the tonneau
- Ensure vinyl and fabric tonneau covers are completely dry before replacing. Lingering moisture can cause mildew.
- Apply a UV-blocking vinyl or fabric protectant. This helps guard against future bird poop stains.
With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can keep your tonneau cover looking pristine and prevent lasting damage from bird bombing runs. Stay persistent, and you’ll win the battle against bird poop stains!
Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Bird Poop From Tonneau Covers
Can bird poop eat away or damage my tonneau cover?
Yes, bird droppings contain uric acid that can eat through clear coatings, vinyl, and fabric over time if left on a tonneau cover. The acid can bond to materials and leave unsightly stains if not removed promptly.
How soon should I clean bird droppings off my tonneau cover?
It’s best to rinse off any wet bird poop immediately before the uric acid has a chance to set in. Dried, caked-on droppings become much harder to remove the longer they sit. Try to remove them within a day or two at most.
Is it safe to use bleach or solvents on tonneau covers?
Avoid prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals like bleach, mineral spirits, or alcohol-based cleaners on tonneau covers. They can degrade vinyl and discolor or fade fabric over time with repeated use. Mild soap and water is the safest overall cleaning method.
Can power washing remove dried bird poop stains?
Power washing is not recommended for bird poop removal on tonneau covers. The high-pressure water can drive stains deeper into the fabric or vinyl. Power washing may also damage stitching and seals on soft covers over time.
Why does bird poop leave a white stain even after I clean it?
The white splotches left behind are uric acid salts that have photobleached after prolonged sun exposure. They can be difficult to remove once deeply bonded. Using hydrogen peroxide can help further break down the bleached staining.
How can I prevent bird poop stains from coming back?
Regularly applying protectants containing UV blockers helps guard against photobleaching bird poop stains over time. Parking in covered areas limits bird access and sun exposure. Also, frequently washing your truck and tonneau cover deters birds from targeting it.
The Bottom Line On Removing Bird Poop Stains
While cleaning bird poop off your tonneau cover may seem daunting, the right techniques can help restore and protect it. Address stains promptly before they have a chance to set in. Test cleaning solutions first before applying them widely. And avoid harsh chemicals that could damage vinyl and fabric.
With some effort and the proper bird poop removers, you can keep your truck bed cover looking pristine for miles down the road. Just be vigilant about cleaning off any new “bombings” as soon as possible. Your tonneau cover will thank you!