How to Remove Tar from Shoes

How to Remove Tar from Shoes to Maintain Its Excellent Condition?

Many are now interested on how to remove tar from shoes as it is one of the most disgusting substances that can get into your footwear. Tar comes from the black sticky substances used in repairing potholes or cracks in roads.

Exposing it to high temperatures causes it to melt slightly and get stuck at the bottom of your footwear when you accidentally walk over it. The good news is that while it is a bit challenging to clean it from your shoes, it is not actually impossible.

Learning it can even save you a few bucks since you no longer need to purchase a new pair.

What Do You Need to Follow this Tutorial?

  • Plastic knife
  • Degreasing dish soap 
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Olive oil
  • Water and soap
  • Solvent – ex. gasoline
  • WD-40
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton swab or ball

Step 1 – Utilize A Plastic Knife

One way to remove tar is to use a plastic knife. Just make sure to be extra careful when doing it to avoid poking the sole and damaging it accidentally. If there are still remaining tar, you can get rid of it by squirting a degreasing dish soap over the affected area.

Prepare a brush to scrub it off using circular movements. Make sure that you reach into the grooves. Continue scrubbing until you notice that there are no tar left. Rinse off the soap using water then dry them off completely with a towel.

Step 2 – Take Advantage of the Power of Olive Oil

Put on olive oil on the affected part of your shoe. Leave it there for an hour or so. This time should be enough to soften the tar. If you noticed that the procedure has fully removed the tar, then just wash it off with water and soap.

However, if there are still remaining stains and tar, then you need to follow it up with a solvent. An example would be gasoline. Just get a rag and soak a part of it into the gasoline. Dab it into the tar and stains. Once they come off, you can wash them off with water and soap.

Step 3 – Lubricate it Using WD-40

Do this step if the water and detergent solution does not seem to work in getting rid of tar and asphalt from your shoes. Use the WD-40 to lubricate the shoe. Just spray it into the area where the tar is visible. Let it stay there for a few minutes. Scrub it off using an unused and old toothbrush.

If you noticed that this worked in fully removing the tar, then you can move on to washing it with water and detergent. Wash it off to get rid of any leftovers from the WD-40.

Step 4 – Make Use of A Nail Polish Remover

Another solution on how to remove tar from shoes is the nail polish remover. All you have to do to take advantage of its power in removing tar from shoes is to dip a cotton swab or ball in it. Rub it over the affected area until removed.

Ensure to use a colorless nail polish remover to prevent the risk of further staining your shoes due to the dye. Note that this is usually the case when you use colored solutions. Aside from removing tar, the nail polish remover is also useful in removing grass stains.

Some Additional Tips that You Have to Take Note Of

While the ways on removing tar from shoes mentioned above seem simple enough to implement, take note that you still need to keep in mind a few tips to ensure that you are doing it correctly.

Here are some tips that will help you do the procedure without any mistakes that could further damage your shoes:

How to Remove Tar from Shoes shoeshine

Test a hidden area – Prior to using any of the solutions above, make it a point to observe your shoe’s reaction to it. You can do so by applying it in an area, which is not that visible.

Check whether there is a negative reaction. If there is none, then it is safe to say that it is an appropriate solution for the tar removal.

Clean or remove the tar right away – Do not wait too long before you remove it as delaying the procedure might only trigger permanent damage on your shoes. Aside from that, there is a great chance that it will become more difficult for you to remove the tar if you wait for a long time to get rid of it.

Avoid spraying or washing it with water right away – Doing such can only make it harder for you to remove it.


When attempting to try any of the solutions on how to remove tar from shoes mentioned in this article, make sure to be patient. Note that there are times when the removal takes more effort and time than you initially expected.

It is also important to follow the instructions correctly, so you won’t end up damaging your shoes instead of fixing it or cleaning it up.

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