How To Remove Pine Sap From Clothing

Spending time outdoors is always a blast, but sometimes, there’s a bit of a mess to deal with afterward. One of the most common stains nature lovers have to deal with is the accumulation of the sticky substance we call pine sap on their clothing. 

Unfortunately, too few people know how to get this sticky pine glob out of their shirts and pants. 

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What’s the Best Way to Remove Pine Sap from Clothing?

To remove pine sap from clothing, you’ll need to treat the area with a stain remover first and let it soak for one full minute. 

If the stain is new and relatively small, then you can toss it in the wash immediately after soaking. It’s best to scrub tougher stains with heavy-duty detergent before washing for a more thorough cleaning. 

How to Remove Pine Sap from Your Clothes

Admittedly, pine sap is a challenging substance to get out of your clothes once it’s already settled into the fabric’s fibers. It stains immediately after hitting your clothing, and the longer it sits, the harder the stain will be to remove. 

With this in mind, you’ll need to get the affected clothing back home as soon as possible and gather the following materials for a complete cleaning:

  • Laundry stain remover: (Best used as a pretreatment)
  • Liquid detergent: (The detergent must be heavy-duty. Pine sap is a resinous substance, meaning that it hardens upon exposure to air and is not water-soluble. These traits make it difficult to remove, but a heavy-duty detergent can do the trick)
  • Bleach
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Paper towels

For further detail on using these ingredients to remove pine sap from clothes, see the guide below. 

Mechanical Sap Removal

Before you start using the necessary chemical ingredients to remove the sap, you’ll need to use a tried-and-true old-school method to get rid of as much of it as possible. Follow the brief instructions below to whittle the stain down before cleaning:

  • Rub an ice cube directly on the pine sap. The ice will freeze the pine sap, making it more brittle, and thus, much easier to break off your clothing. This will not remove the sap entirely, but it will lessen the amount you have to clean in the following steps. 
  • Take a dull knife (a butter knife will work) and scrape the remaining pine sap off. Remember that your goal is not to remove every bit of the existing sap. You’re merely reducing the amount you have to work within the chemical cleaning process. 

Once finished, you should be left with a stain and perhaps some small bits of sap, if any. 

Weaken the Stain with a Pretreatment Stain Remover

As previously mentioned, pine sap is incredibly difficult to remove from clothes because of its resinous characteristics. Even leaving the sap on your shirt or pants for a few hours can significantly increase the difficulty of getting rid of the stain. 

For this reason, you need to start with a pretreatment stain remover to break down the sap stain before you start scrubbing. 

This step must come before any other phase of the cleaning process. Why? Stains that you wash and dry are nearly impossible to remove. If you try to include a stain remover in the wash along with standard laundry detergent, there is no guarantee that the solution will work. 

Instead, follow these instructions to correctly pretreat your sap-stained clothes before tossing them in the wash:

  • Apply the pretreatment stain remover directly onto the stain. If you feel that the stain is too extensive or has too much remaining sap for this pretreatment to be effective, add heavy-duty liquid detergent in hot water. You can gently rub in the added solution by softly scrubbing the spot with a toothbrush.
  • Allow the solution to penetrate the stain for at least one minute. 
  • Wash immediately.

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Wash the Pine Sap Out of Your Clothing

Now that you’ve removed most of the sap on the surface, you’re ready to get the resin out of the fibers, releasing the stain for good. 

You don’t need to set the washer to any specific settings. Putting it in a normal or a specialized stained or soiled location should work just fine, as long as you’ve followed the preceding steps in this guide. 

After the wash cycle is complete, take a close look at your clothes. Search for any lingering stains. If you see any remaining spots, soak the items in bleach (either chlorine- or oxygen-based, depending on what’s appropriate for your clothing) and wash them once again in the soaking solution. 

Washing Extra-Heavy Stains 

Clothes that have been stained with large amounts of sap or left with sap on them for too long will be much more challenging to clean. 

It is best to follow the instructions above as you would with a minimally stained clothing item; however, you’ll need to take one additional pretreatment step to get your clothes clean once again. 

When you’re ready to clean a heavily stained clothing item, follow the guidelines below:

  • Turn the clothing item inside out to reach the back of the sap stain. 
  • Place absorbent paper towels on top of the stain.
  • Apply the dry cleaning solvent to the paper towels and let it sit until it dries.
  • Rinse the clothing item. 
  • Follow this guide from Step 1.

If you regularly spend time out in the wilderness, you’ll likely end up with a pine sap stain on your clothes from time to time. The cleaning process can be lengthy, so it’s best to get it done straight away to prevent the stain from toughening up.

By following this guide, you can ease the stain removal process and get back to your outdoor adventures in no time.

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