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Product group tests

Best car bug cleaner 2024

We reveal the best way to say goodbye to baked-on bugs

While the warmer months mean your car won’t be assaulted by so much mud and grime, there are other perils – bugs. 

After any long journey in warm weather, you’ll inevitably find sticky splats caused by unfortunate insects. They will be tricky to remove, and if they are left for too long, the acid residues can mark the surface of your paint, leaving permanent damage. 

A dedicated bug cleaner will save you some hard work and prevent swirls in your car’s paint and trim caused by sustained scrubbing. They work by breaking down the organic parts of the insect remains – which could have been baked on by warm winds and bright sunshine – so they can be simply wiped or rinsed away. Some products will also work on tar spots and bird droppings, making them an extra- useful tool in your car-cleaning arsenal. 

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We tested eight to see which was best at banishing bits of bugs.

How we tested them

To ensure consistency, we used flies of similar size, which were squashed against a scrap car’s bonnet. Next, the remains were baked on with a heat gun and left in the sun for two hours. Then, the bonnet was allowed to cool in the shade before we applied the bug cleaners according to each maker’s instructions. 

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The sample was then wiped or rinsed away, as suggested, and finally, value and ease of use were also taken into account.

Reviews:

CarPlan No1 Super Bug

  • Price: Around £5.00  
  • Size: 600ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £0.76
  • Rating: 5 stars 
  • Website: halfords.com

The bright orange CarPlan liquid squirts out as a thick gel, so it will stick even on vertical parts of the bodywork. We left it to dwell for the suggested five minutes, and two wipes with a microfibre cloth were enough to get rid of almost all of our baked-on fly remains. The liquid also worked well with bird droppings and tree sap. 

However, the CarPlan’s winning blow to rivals here comes from its price. At the time of writing, a 600ml bottle costs around £5.00 in Halfords. 

Buy now from Halfords…

Angelwax Revenge

  • Price: Around £10 
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £1.99
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Website: angelwax.co.uk
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The Angelwax Revenge gives a strong all-round performance, but there are some qualifications. When used as instructed, it cleans well, after being left to dwell for three minutes, then blasted off with a pressure washer. This means it’s unbeatable for clearing large areas of fly-splattered bodywork as part of a car cleaning routine when you are likely to be using a pressure washer.

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However, it’s not as effective or easy to use if you’re just clearing a few single splats between washes.

Buy now from Amazon…

Autoglym Active Insect Remover

  • Price: Around £12 
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £2.40
  • Rating: 4.5 stars 
  • Website: autoglym.com

Autoglym came very close on points to the winners and was equally as good at shifting the bugs. It comes out of the bottle as a bubbly foam, which sticks to the bodywork with minimal dribbling. The instructions suggest leaving it for just 30 seconds and we were amazed that this was long enough to soften the baked bug – but the remains came off cleanly with just a couple of wipes. 

This makes it much easier to use if you’re trying to clean a windscreen at a service station, for example. 

Buy now from Halfords…

Car Gods Thanatos Bug & Sap Remover

  • Price: Around £11
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £2.20
  • Rating: 4 stars 
  • Website: cargods.com
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The bright pink Thanatos liquid is designed mainly to be used as a pre-wash treatment, which will soften up the bug remains prior to a full car clean. It means the fluid will soon dribble off if it’s concentrated on a small, vertical area of the body, but quickly covers entire panels.

Despite this, it did well in the test, clearing most of our unfortunate bugs with just a couple of wipes from our microfibre. However, the Angelwax does a better pre-wash cleaning job and costs less than this rival. 

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Buy now from Amazon…

Auto Finesse Citrus Power

  • Price: Around £13  
  • Size: 1 litre
  • Cost per 100ml: £1.30
  • Rating: 4 stars 
  • Website: autofinesse.com

Don’t be put off by the seemingly high price of the Citrus Power – it might be the most expensive here, but you get twice the amount for your money because the bottle contains a full litre. 

Rather than being a dedicated bug cleaner, the Auto Finesse is described as an all-round pre-wash that can remove traffic film and even be used on wheels. The watery fluid is easy to spray onto larger areas and made light work of smaller bugs, but struggled to move the bigger remnants. 

Buy now from Amazon…

Dodo Juice Flies Undone

  • Price: Around £10  
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £2.00
  • Rating: 3.5 stars 
  • Website: dodojuice.net
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If there were a prize for names, Dodo Juice would walk this test, but the Flies Undone will need more than a pun to zip to the top of the rankings. The yellow liquid looks like a kid’s milkshake, but is surprisingly watery when applied, so it runs down vertical panels and dries quickly in warmer weather. 

As instructed, we used a pressure washer to clean the treated area, but hardened remnants of our fly remained. The instructions also say not to use the liquid on windscreens, which limits its usefulness. 

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Buy now from Amazon…

Halfords Bug & Tar Remover

  • Price: Around £6  
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £1.20
  • Rating: 3.5 stars 
  • Website: halfords.com

At around £6 for 500ml, the Halfords remover is half the price of many of its rivals here. Rather than being used as a pre-wash, the fluid can only be applied and then removed with a microfibre cloth, after being left to dwell on the car for between one and two minutes. 

The strong smell suggests the liquid is working hard, but it left a disappointing amount of our fly behind on the first application – and needed a second go to get rid of it completely. 

Buy now from Halfords…

Karcher Insect Remover

  • Price: Around £10 
  • Size: 500ml
  • Cost per 100ml: £2.00
  • Rating: 3 stars 
  • Website: kaercher.com
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Unsurprisingly for a cleaner from a pressure washer maker, this fluid needs to be rinsed off with a powerful jet of water to be effective. It also needs to be left to dwell for between three and five minutes, which seems like an age when waiting to wash your car. It also meant the fluid dried out on the warm day of the test.  

However, even after letting the pressure washer do the work, there were still remains of our fly on our car’s paintwork.

Buy now from Halfords…

Verdict:

The Best Buy here is CarPlan’s No1 Super Bug, and not just because it is currently such a bargain. It has strong cleaning power and is versatile enough to be used to clear other paint contamination too. 

Angelwax’s Revenge also cleans really well, especially if used as part of a pre-clean routine when you are already planning to use a pressure washer. It could have won if it had matched the CarPlan’s value.

Third place goes to Autoglym. Its Active Insect Remover cleans well but looks pricey. 

  1. CarPlan No1 Super Bug
  2. Angelwax Revenge
  3. Autoglym Active Insect Remover

Click here to discover which kit came out on top in our Car Product Awards...

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