You wake up in the morning after dressing like P. Diddy for Halloween. With a cup of coffee in hand, you draw back the shades and see that the unthinkable has happened: Your brand-new blue CR-V is covered in Silly String – goopy, gloppy, goofy string. You do a spit-take with your java, raise your fist in the air and shout, “Curse you kids!”

But is it just a playful Halloween prank, or can Silly String really damage your car, forcing you to shell out Benjamins for auto body repairs?

How to clean silly string

The simple answer is: Yes, dried Silly String has the potential to ruin your car’s paint and rubber seals. Because it’s made of a polymer and plastic resin, it can slowly etch into auto paint and soak through clear coats, especially if it’s left to dry under the hot sun. The color additives and dye in Silly String can also stain and seep into your window seals, leaving you with a bona fide mess to clean up.

But clean up you shall, because you’re a responsible car owner. Here are some simple ways to remove Silly String from your vehicle, hopefully before there’s any permanent damage.

Tools You May Need

First things first: Gather up all the equipment to begin cleaning your car. Here’s a list of what you’ll might need.
  • Hose and/or power washer
  • Cotton swabs
  • Buckets
  • Clean sponges
  • Clean microfiber towels or chamois
  • WD-40 or similar product (as needed)
  • Auto body solvent, like Acrysol (as needed)
  • Clay bar and lubricant (as needed)
  • Car wax (as needed)

Garden Hose or Pressure Washer

When Silly String or Goofy String is still wet, spraying it off with a hose or power washer is usually enough. Just be sure to set your pressure washer to a light PSI, as it can potentially peel away at your car paint.

Dry your car with clean, soft microfiber or cotton towels. Check for staining or etching in your car paint.

Cotton Swabs

If you get Silly String on your windows, there’s a chance the colorant will drip and leak down into your window’s rubber seals. Even after a fresh splash of water, this color might not come out. If this is the case, cotton swabs can be used to gently clean out the sealants, as well as any other small areas, like side mirrors, headlight casings, and moonroofs. 


Did you know WD-40 can be used to remove Silly String, eggs, bird droppings, tree sap, and more from your car paint? It’s a wonder product that should be kept in every garage.

But we digress. Any caked-on Silly String should be spritzed with a little WD-40 (or similar product) and wiped clean with a microfiber cloth. The WD-40 will act as a lubricant, breaking up any particles of Silly String on contact. It does have its limits, however, as WD-40 may not have the power to remove old, dry Silly String.

WD-40 can also be applied to those rubber seals to loosen dry Silly String. You’ll notice that the Silly String will become tacky, almost like a paste, which makes it easier to push out with cotton swabs. 

Auto Body Solvent

When rinsing, WD-40 and Q-tips prove to be futile, you can turn to the big guns: auto body solvents, like Acrysol. These chemicals are used to remove contaminants on car paint and hard plastic surfaces, such as bumpers.

Follow the directions on the packaging, which may include soaking a cloth in solvent and applying it directly to the stained areas. You may need to let the cloth rest on the stain for a moment before buffing away with a chamois or towel.

But beware! Although they’re vehicle-safe, be sure to test these solvents and cleaners on inconspicuous areas, like underneath the hood of on the door jamb. And because of their chemical properties, these products will eat away your car’s wax protectant, so you’ll need to wax the car when you’re satisfied with the results. 

Clay Bar

Solvents not do the trick? You’ve got a stubborn stain that will require some significant time and effort to remedy. Try to use a clay bar and clay lubricant to remove the stingy Silly String patches.

First, apply an adequate glob of clay lubricant to the area. This will ensure you don’t scratch the paint.

Next, begin going over the car with your clay bar. Use gentle, back-and-forth motions along with the natural “grain.”

You will want to buff it clean and re-check for stains, then repeat the process at least once more. After a third try with no results, you can call it quits and visit a professional auto body shop.

If you’d like a recommendation for an auto body center near Joplin, contact Roper Honda at (417) 625-0800. As one of the best car dealers in Joplin, we would be glad to direct you toward a winner. 

About Roper Honda of Joplin, MO

Serving the areas of Springfield, Neosho and Joplin, MO, Roper Honda is proud to be recognized as one of the region’s premier auto dealers. We have competitive pricing on all new Honda models, quality used cars, and general auto service and repairs. If you need to buy a vehicle or get an oil change in Joplin, come to Roper for professional, friendly service.

Visit us at 902 N Rangeline Rd in Joplin, Missouri.
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