One of the “hazards” of working with trees is the large amount of sap that gets on clothing. It seems to stick to us every day, so much so that trying to avoid it is impossible. While you don’t need to clean off a work uniform all that rigorously, most non-arborists don’t want to get sap on their street clothing.
If you accidentally do get some on clothes or fabric you didn’t want to get dirty, do what the pros do and follow this advice!
Step 1: Scrape off the sap
When you notice some sap on your clothes, go to the bathroom and gently scrape it off with a dull knife, spoon, or soft-bristled brush (try not to use your toothbrush). Whether the sap is old and dry or fresh, it reduces the amount you’ll have to remove with cleaning solutions.
Step 2: Apply a household cleaner
Next, apply a small amount of a household cleaner with a soft cloth. It could be rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, Goo Off, Goo Gone, or even nail polish remover. If it’s very stubborn, use an enzyme-based stain remover or a heavy liquid laundry detergent to break down the sap. If the sap is thick or the area is large, pour the cleaner directly onto the sappy area and work it in with your fingers.
Soak your cloth in a small amount of the cleaner and blot the area. If you have to work in a detergent, leave the product on the sap for 10 – 15 minutes. Rinse the stained area with hot water, and if you still see evidence of the sap, treat it. You may need to work through multiple layers of dried tree pitch.
Before using the cleaner, test it on a small spot that no one will see, such as inside the hem. This is to ensure that the cleaning product doesn’t cause any damage to the fabric or dye. Check the label to make sure the fabric is colourfast.
Some sites recommend more unconventional options like peanut butter or sunscreen. These are oil-based rather than alcohol-based, and thus can leave oil stains on the clothing. You can use them, but they will require extra laundry detergent to get rid of the oil in the fabric.
Step 3: Toss the clothing in the laundry on “hot”
Toss the clothing in with your regular laundry detergent at the hottest temperature recommended on the label. The sap spot should be gone once the machine is done, but if it’s still there, repeat the steps. Don’t put the clothes in the dryer if the sap is still there. The heat from the dryer can melt it into the fabric and get it on other clothes.
If you’re trimming, pruning, or planting a tree, sap will most likely get on your clothes. Make sure you’re okay with getting your clothes dirty, but if it happens by accident, follow the steps above. To be completely certain you won’t get sap on you, call in a trained tree specialist to do the job for you!