Don't Bug Me - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Don’t Bug Me

by | Jun 1, 2022 | Protection, RV/Motorhome

Testing — and ranking — 10 top products for keeping your RV clean of splatter during and after your travels

Taking our motorhome out for vacation has to be the highlight of the year for us — and everyone else we know with an RV. If you’re like us, you spend weeks planning the trip and days packing and getting ready. After driving all day, you set up camp and are ready to relax and enjoy yourself away from the daily grind back at home — but after walking around your RV and or tow vehicle, you notice that it is covered with a thick, unsightly layer of bugs. It’s an unfortunate part of the camping season — the same weather that draws us to the outdoors is prime season for insects, and for many their “cycle of life” oftentimes ends across the front of our rigs.

If you are one of those people who prefers to keep your rig clean and shiny, you know you can’t leave those bugs on all week, drying and etching the paint, so out comes the water hose and your bug cleaner of choice. As you start cleaning, you notice the whole front of the RV and tow vehicle as well as the windshield are covered in bugs.

What a mess.

various bug removal solutions
Here’s a look at all the products we tested, along with the cleaning mitts and bug sponges that will help to make this task a bit less tedious. The wash mitts (from Auto Drive) have a typical microfiber side for washing your auto or RV while the other side is a dedicated bug scrubber sponge.
We’ve all been there, done that — and learned from our experiences. And while we can’t promise to turn this chore into something that you will look forward to doing, there are some tips, cleaning tools and products that will make this process easier. In this article we tested 10 different bug removers and report on their effectiveness. We’ll also clue you in on what we’ve found to be the right cleaning tools to use — and when is the best time to clean up those unsightly bug stains.

First, let’s start with the right tools. To properly remove stubborn bugs off your RV you will need a dedicated bug remover sponge. There are many different types and brands, but we did not find any major performance differences in the ones we gathered for this article and those we have used in the past 15-20 years of RV cleaning. All major auto parts stores as well as Walmart and Camping World have bug sponges that work fine. Some wash mitts have one side with a microfiber sponge and a perforated surface on the other side just for bugs. Those mitts are very handy if you are removing bugs and washing the RV at the same time.

The best time to clean and remove bugs off your RV or tow vehicle is, as you might expect, as soon as possible. Usually that means after arrival at your destination or when returning home. Some of these products are more flexible than others in terms of when and at what temperature they can be applied, but it is always safest to apply bug removing chemicals in the shade when the surface is cool.

bug remover on rv bumper
Starting with a cool, dry surface, spray the product on a section of the RV and allow it to dwell for 30-60 seconds — do not allow the product to dry on the surface. Then, use a dedicated bug sponge and agitate the cleaner on the surface. If all the bugs are not easily removed, add a little more product and continue to scrub until clean. After removing the bugs most product manufacturers suggest you rinse with water to neutralize the chemical and prevent damage to the finish.
meguiar's bug and tar remover foam on rv bumper
Notice the thick foam created by the Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug and Tar Remover. This product does a great job at softening and removing heavy layers of tough bugs but is not our favorite for removing tar or sap.
If you absolutely have no other option than to clean in the direct sun, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. First, fully wet the surface with cool water. This will not only help cool the paint but will help loosen and soften the bugs. When spraying bug cleaner on the vehicle, make sure you do not allow it to dry before wiping it off or rinsing. Some cleaners are harsher than others and, of course, you should always read the manufacturers suggestion on the product label. Some of these cleaners are a gel or lotion and are meant to be sprayed on dry and then wiped off with a microfiber towel without water; others specifically state that they need to be rinsed with water to neutralize the effects of the cleaner.

Some RV parks and, in particular, high-end RV resorts, don’t allow you to use a water hose to wash or rinse your RV on-site; in those cases, you’ll want to stick to some of the “waterless options” tested. If you have access to water and a hose, we find this traditional water method to be the most reliable as you can keep scrubbing and applying more bug remover to the surface until each spot is clean.

turtle wax bug and tar remover on rv
Though we didn’t like using the Turtle Wax Bug and Tar remover on large areas due to its thick consistency, it does a great job on spot removals of bugs because it doesn’t require rinsing. We also found that when removing heavy spots of tar or sap, it has no equal among this group of products.
chemical guys microfiber towel

If you do not already have some dedicated microfiber towels these are some of our favorites. These towels are from Chemical Guys (Chemical Guys Microfiber Towels) and are a 70/30 blend and a full 16×16 inches in size.

Also, keep in mind that some of these products state they do not remove wax while others recommend a wax or sealant should be used afterwards. One product that we tested, from Aero Cosmetics called Wash Wax All, is a waterless cleaner and sealant built into one. If you plan on using a cleaner that removes the wax, it is simple enough to keep a bottle of spray sealant in your bag of detailing supplies and give it a quick wipe down after removing the bugs — this will restore any loss of sealant and make the surface as smooth and slick as possible, which will make clean up easier the next time. There are literally dozens of spray sealants to choose from, so pick one you like and use it after cleaning off the bugs.

Know, too, that some of these specialty bug remover products are available at your local auto parts stores — but some of the higher-end products are only available through automotive detail suppliers such as Autogeek.net. Many are also available online at Amazon.

Below is a product-by-product breakdown of the 10 bug removers we tested, in no particular order, along with our user notes and ratings of each one.

CarPro Bug-Out
CarPro Bug-Out bottle
CarPro Bug-Out is a spray dispensed liquid that is $16.99 for 16.9 oz and it comes with a two position spray dispenser on top. It is intended to be used as is without dilution. Shake well, then spray on the surface allow to dwell for 30-120 seconds then scrub with a bug sponge. Rinse after cleaning It is safe for all surfaces including glass and plastic trim.

Bug Removal Score — 8

User Notes: Easy to use and bugs came off easily with light rubbing.

Mothers Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover
Mothers Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover
Mothers Speed Foaming Bug and Tar Remover is $7.99 for an 18-ounce aerosol can. This product sprays as a foam on the surface then you scrub with a bug sponge or microfiber towel. Once clean you simply wipe it off — no rinsing needed.

Bug Removal Score — 7

User Notes: Spray foam is good, but not as heavy and thick as Meguiar’s. Also, if you plan on wiping off instead of rinsing, the foam gets into small cracks and crevices — making the wipe-off method a bit more difficult. However, the no-rinsing method is a huge advantage if you don’t have access to water.

Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover
Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover
Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover is a thick liquid with a lotion-like consistency. It comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle for $7. This product is safe for use on all surfaces. Wash area first, then — after drying — spray on the bug-and-tar remover and allow it to soak in. Use a microfiber towel to wipe away the bugs and tar until clean and dry. This product is incredible for removing fresh tar from paint.

Bug Removal Score — 6 (only because the thick liquid is hard to deal with on large areas)

User Notes: This is the best product I’ve found for removing tar and sap and for that reason alone it is in my personal RV.

Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug and Tar Remover
Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug and Tar Remover
Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug and Tar Remover is $6.99 for a 15-ounce aerosol can. Spray on the foam and allow to remain briefly. After scrubbing with a towel or bug sponge, it can be rinsed or wiped with a microfiber towel. Do not allow product to dry on surface.

Bug Removal Score — 9

User Notes: It produces a thick, clingy foam and if you can wait the full 5 minutes dwell time, the bugs can be removed very easily.

Camco RV Black Streak Remover
Camco RV Black Streak Remover
Camco RV Black Streak Remover is $5.74 for a 32-ounce spray bottle. This product can be used for bugs and tar as well as black streaks. Apply to a towel and rub on the surface until clean, then rinse with water.

Bug Removal Score — 7

User Notes: The bug removal is pretty good; not among the best in terms of strict bug removing power, but it is very economical — and it also removes black streaks!

3D Bug Remover
3D Bug Remover
3D Bug Remover is a liquid spray in a 16-ounce bottle for $8.99. It is safe on glass, trim, plastic and all painted surfaces — but do not use on hot paint or in direct sun. Spray on the surface and allow to dwell for 1-2 minutes. Use a bug sponge or microfiber towel to agitate the surface, then rinse off or use a waterless wash afterwards to neutralize the product.

Bug Removal Score — 10

User Notes: This is the most satisfying product here to use in terms of bug removal. If you will follow the directions, the bugs wipe off more easily than any other bug cleaner we have ever tested or used. The price is good, too — and you can buy it in a gallon jug for very economical refills.

Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All
Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All
Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All is a liquid in a 16-ounce spray bottle for $9.99. This product (originally designed for airplanes) is both a cleaner and a sealant, so after removing the bugs you do not need another wax or sealant. It is safe for all surfaces such as glass, paint, plastic trim and vinyl. Spray on the surface wet or dry and agitate with a bug sponge or its own dedicated Aero Scrubber pad. Once the bugs are gone, use a clean microfiber towel to wipe clean. It leaves a slick surface that feels as if you just applied wax.

Bug Removal Score — 8

User Notes: It does take a bit longer to cut through heavy layers of bugs but if you use its bug removal pad that helps speed up the process. The big advantage with this product is you do not have to use a spray sealant afterwards to restore surface protection.

Duragloss Bug Remover #471
Duragloss Bug Remover #471
Duragloss Bug Remover #471 is a spray liquid that retails for $9.99 for a 22-ounce bottle. It is safe on glass, painted surfaces, fiberglass and chrome. It will not remove durable sealants when used properly. Spray on the surface and allow 30-90 seconds to penetrate, then scrub with a bug sponge. Rinse with water.

Bug Removal Score — 9

User Notes: This is an industry favorite and a product we have used successfully for many years. It is among the very best products in this test and simply powers through bugs, making clean up a breeze.

Griot’s Garage Bug and Smudge Remover
Griot’s Garage Bug and Smudge Remover
Griot’s Garage Bug and Smudge Remover is a clear liquid that comes in a 22-ounce spray bottle for $14.99, making it one of the more expensive products in the lineup. This product should be sprayed on and allowed time to dwell. Use a microfiber to clean away the bugs then simply wipe it dry. No rinsing required.

Bug Removal Score — 8

User Notes: This is a good product overall but thick and/or big bugs took a bit longer to fully hydrate and remove.

PoorBoys Bug Squash
PoorBoys Bug Squash
PoorBoys Bug Squash is a concentrated liquid that can be used as is or diluted up to 3-1. It comes in a 16-ounce bottle for $11.99. It is safe on all surfaces such as glass, paint, metal, plastic trim and paint. Spray on the surface and allow 30-60 seconds to dwell, then use a microfiber towel to clean away the bugs. Wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel.

Bug Removal Score — 9

User Notes: When used at full strength, it is one of the very best products on the market today. If you do not have a heavy layer of bugs, you can dilute it — making it even more economical to use.

Get Updates
Subscribe today and never miss an issue!
Get all the latest tips and news to keep you moving on that open road!
July 2022 issue mockup of magazine and digital issue on a computer
Current Issue
July 2022
Want to increase your campsite comfort levels? Our July issue covers fantastic tips on making your RV home sweet home, presents top products for loading-and-unloading and the latest in RV maintenance, plus so much MORE! Don't miss it!
Already a Subscriber? Click here for Access to the Full Issues.
Share This