How to Remove Tar from Shoes feature image

How to Remove Tar from Shoes – Some Do’s and Don’ts

Tar stains are among those stains that are extremely difficult to remove, especially if they get into your shoes. As a result of a mixture of dye and oil, it is crucial for you to use over one stain remover to remove a tar stain.

Fortunately, despite being a difficult task, note that it is still doable. What you have to do first is to get rid of the sticky oil residue in the tar. After removing it, you can move on to eliminating the black stain.

This article will provide information about how to remove tar from shoes so you will be guided accordingly.

What will you Need to Follow this Tutorial?

  • Disposable plastic knife
  • Degreasing dish detergent
  • Old toothbrush
  • Any of the softeners indicated in Step 3
  • Any of the solvents indicated in Step 4
  • Water and soap
  • Cleaners specifically designed to get rid of tough tar stains
  • Baby oil, which will serve as a lubricant

Step by Step Instructions on How to Get Tar Off Shoes

Step 1 – Test the Shoes to Determine Any Potential for Damage Prior to Treating the Stains

How to Remove Tar from Shoes road

Test a small but hidden part of the shoe prior to treating the stain fully. This is crucial in ensuring that the color, finish and overall look of the shoe won’t get damaged by the solution you intend to use.

Another thing to keep in mind is to remove the tar right after it gets into your footwear. Note that this might cause permanent damage, making it harder to remove it if it stays for longer.

Avoid using water to wash or spray the stain. Doing such can only make the stain more stubborn, thus harder to remove.

Step 2 – Use a disposable plastic knife

How to Remove Tar from Shoes plastic knife

This solution for tar stain removal on shoes requires you to utilize the sharp edge of the plastic knife in scraping off the tar. Make sure not to take extra caution when doing this step to avoid scratching or gouging the shoe’s upper portion.

In those instances when a small amount of tar remains, you can remove it by applying degreasing dish detergent. Dip an old toothbrush in warm water then use it to scrub the remains.

Once done, you should rinse the sole. Do the process again until all the stains are removed. Scrape as much as you can from this knife before trying other solutions mentioned here.

Step 3 – Use Softeners

How to Remove Tar from Shoes olive oil

Do this step only if the tar still remains unremoved with the help of the knife. Also, make sure that you perform the first step – testing a minor and hidden part of the shoe – prior to using any of the softeners recommended in this step.

This is necessary for ensuring that it won’t further harm your footwear. Some of the softeners that are useful in removing tar stains are lard, eucalyptus oil, olive oil, mineral oil, margarine, petroleum jelly, vegetable oil and peanut butter.

Choose one from the softeners indicated above. Smother a generous amount of your chosen softener on the affected part of the shoes. Let the softener do its magic in softening the stain. You can leave it for about an hour to do so.

If it works, then the last step is to rinse it with water and soap. Make sure that all traces and residue of the softener are eliminated.

Step 4 – Use Solvents

How to Remove Tar from Shoes solvents

However, if only some parts of the stain are lifted while there are still remnants then you can proceed to this step. This involves the use of solvents. Avoid washing the shoes with water and soap yet if it’s not treated with solvent yet.

Some of the solvents that you can use are kerosene, gasoline, WD-40, turpentine and lighter fluid. What you have to do is to soak a part of a rag into the solvent. Dap or blot it over the stain.

In the case of thick stains, apply an ice cube on the affected area. Hold it there until the tar stain becomes brittle. This will let you gently remove it with a spatula or knife.

How to Remove Tar from Shoes WD40

When using solvents, keep in mind that it is flammable, so take extreme caution. Wash the shoes completely with water and soap and make sure that all traces of the solvent are removed.

Step 5 – Learn Some Additional Tips

When it comes to how to remove tar from shoes, take note that there are cleaners specifically designed for that purpose. You can find them in the automotive section. The good thing about using these cleaners is that they can get rid of the tar stains effectively without potentially damaging the footwear.

You can also use baby oil in the process. It works as a lubricant, making the process of removing hard stains easier. If the soles got thick asphalt or tar layer, then prepare to spend more time and apply some elbow grease to get rid of it completely.


With the information mentioned in this article, you will realize that while removing tar stains is a difficult process, it is not actually impossible. If you enjoyed this tutorial then feel free to let us know about it by sharing your thoughts in the comment section.

You may also share it to your network, so you can share this new knowledge with them.

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