Quick Tip: In Praise of the Doodlebug

3M™ Doodlebug™ White Cleaning Pad 8440 cleaning airplane wing

Nobody likes trying to remove dried bug residue. Unless you catch them while still, um, moist, insect remains will dry to have an impressive attachment to your airframe. I swear I’ve seen JB Weld with less resolve.

But I have found a good bug-removal tool. A local airplane detailer shared his little secret: A 3M product called the 8440 Doodlebug, which the company says “safely cleans ceramic tile, glass, some fiberglass, and other delicate surfaces.” The pads are 1 inch thick and 10 inches by 4-5/8 inches each and come in a box of five that will last you a full season. You can get them on Amazon for around $17 a box. 

Although they look like bleached-out Scotch-Brite pads, they’re designed not to scratch. 3M says, “This product is a floor maintenance buffing pad made of polyester fiber in an open-web construction. Polishing particles are dispersed throughout and bonded to the nonwoven construction with a durable resin system that permeates the entire pad. The pads are nominally one inch thick and sized to fit standard swivel pad holder.” I never would have thought to try this pad on a painted surface but my detailer swears by them.

3M™ Doodlebug™ White Cleaning Pad 8440 cleaning airplane wing

In practice, Doodlebugs work fine with either a fully wet aviation wash or with a wet spot cleaner. Moisten the surface, let the soap work on the bug guts for a few minutes, then come back with another spritz of quick cleaner followed by the Doodlebug. Apply light to medium pressure and watch the insect carcasses lift away from the paint. I’ve used the Doodlebug for a couple of years now and can see no evidence that it’s ever scratched the paint on my GlaStar. I am very careful around plexiglass and the vinyl trim on my airplane, but for the base paint I’ve had zero problems.  

Now if I can just find a miraculously effective belly cleaner.



  1. Looks very similar to the “Aero Scrubber” pads from Aero Cosmetics (the WashWaxAll folks), which I’ve been using for probably 20 years now with great results and no indication of any paint scratches.

  2. Belly Wash from Aero Cosmetics, I believe, is the easiest thing I have found to clean the oil and lead residue off the belly. Spray and wipe. Doesn’t get any easier.

  3. After each flight I use an automotive detailing spray, start at one wingtip spray the leading edge then go back and wipe it off with a microfiber cloth, then on to the next wing, cowl etc.. This also leaves a bit of polish behind so the bugs come off easily the next time.


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