Wisdom Wednesday: How to Remove Leaf Stains from a Car's Finished Paint Surface

Posted by Jess Stoeckeler on

‘Leaves falling onto and staying on a car's painted surface for any length of time can cause damage in the form of an outline stain. Leaves should be removed gently by hand shortly after they fall onto the car. If this does not happen and dew or rain wets the leaves, sap and other chemicals from the leaves can etch the paint's surface. In this case it will be necessary to clean, polish and wax the car to get rid of the leaf stains.

Step 1

Remove the leaves from the car one by one as soon as you can.. Do not brush them off because this may cause microabrasions in the car's finish from scraping dust and other dry residue across the surface. These microabrasions allow sap and other chemicals to penetrate the surface of the car's finish, causing etching.

Step 2

Wash the car well with liquid car wash. Dry it with clean towels immediately after washing. This removes any dust or grime from the surface of the stains which could cause further damage when trying to remove the leaf outlines.

Step 3

Treat each leaf stain with a commercial leaf-stain remover or paint cleaner. Work on them one by one.

Step 4

Apply some of the cleaner to a soft, dry cloth. Work the cleaner into each leaf mark one by one. Rub firmly to remove the stain. Check frequently that you are not scratching or otherwise damaging the paint's finish.

Step 5

Repeat the application of the paint cleaner if necessary, to remove the more persistent leaf marks.

Step 6

Rewash the car with auto wash and clean water when you are done. Make sure to rinse and dry well after washing.

Wax the car, paying special attention to the areas where you removed the leaf marks to lay down a protective coating.


You can also use clay bars for cleaning a car's finish. Buy the clay-bar kit and follow the package directions closely to avoid damaging the surface.


Try a small patch test for the paint cleaner on an inconspicuous area first. If it seems to damage the finish, discontinue using the cleaner.

Items you will need

Auto-washing liquid



Auto-paint cleaner

Soft cloth


- It Still Runs & Photo by Daniel Minárik on Unsplash

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