How to Remove Tree Sap Stains From Clothes

How to Remove Tree Sap Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 25 mins - 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Removing sap, pitch, or tree resin is not difficult and does not require special cleaners, but it may need a few steps and some soaking before it's completely gone. Sap is particularly problematic because it's so sticky. As soon as you get a smear of it on your pants or jacket, it begins picking up and attracting dirt, turning into a darker stain that seems to grow on its own. However, never dry this stain unless it's completely gone. Heat can set the stain making it more difficult to remove. Read on to learn how to tackle this stain once and for good.


Click Play to Learn How to Quickly Remove Tree Sap Stains

Stain Type Tannin-based and gum-based
Detergent Type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Wash Temperature Hot or warm

Before You Begin

Rubbing alcohol is a good solvent to use in a pinch to prevent the stain from setting. But before applying it to a material, test for colorfastness by applying a drop to a hidden part of the fabric. Rinse it, then blot dry. If the color doesn't change, continue to use alcohol as a step to prevent the tree residue from leaving a stain. However, stick to laundry detergent, liquid dish soap, or color-safe stain removers if the color changes.

Dry cleaning solvent is another strong cleaner that can remove sap, pitch, and resin. If you don't have this cleaner or would rather leave your fabric items in the hands of professionals, take your clothing to the dry cleaners to remove the stain.

If you have a stain on silk or vintage upholstery, consult a professional furniture cleaner, especially if you need more stain removal tips. Also, do not use these cleaning steps on suede clothing. Suede has different cleaning procedures.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush


  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent


materials for removing sap stains from clothing

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Sap From Clothes

  1. Pretreat the Stain

    Start by treating the sticky component of the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover. If you do not have a stain remover, use a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent that contains enough enzymes to break down the stain. Tide or Persil are two leading brands with sufficient cleaning power and enzymes to break apart the sap from the fabric fibers.

    pretreating a tree sap stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Apply Stain Remover

    Work the stain remover into the tree sap stain using a soft-bristled brush (or an old toothbrush) and allow the product to work for at least 15 minutes.

    rubbing the stain with a soft brush

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Rinse the Stain

    Rinse the stained area with hot water. If you still see the stain, treat it again. You may need to work through multiple layers of dried tree sap or pitch.

    rinsing the sap stain off of a sweater

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Wash in Hot

    Wash the fabric at the hottest water temperature recommended on the garment's care label. Double-check the area to ensure the stain is gone before tossing the item in a clothes dryer. You might even need to let the fabric air dry to be sure. It can sometimes be difficult to tell if a stain is fully gone from a wet, dark fabric. If the stain remains, repeat the stain removal treatment steps. 

    Note: A high heat dryer can fuse the sap or pitch with the fibers and make removing it even more difficult to get out.

    laundering the item as usual

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


If you're not at home to wash a garment but have some clear hand sanitizer on hand, apply it to the stain (only if the fabric is colorfast). The alcohol in the sanitizer will help dissolve the sap. Blot with a rag or paper towel to remove the bulk of the stain.

Additional Tips for Removing Tree Sap

If the stain persists, you should repeat the above steps until the stain disappears. DIYers report some success with other home remedies.

  • Suncreen: Spray or dab a small amount of sunscreen on the stained area and gently rub the fabric together, then launder as usual.
  • Ice and Vinegar: Another DIY method is the combination of an ice cube plus vinegar. Using an ice cube, freeze the sap stain, scraping off the residue. Next, dip a cloth in vinegar and gently rub the stain until it’s no longer visible. Rinse the stain under running water, then launder it as usual.