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How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Tips You Should Know

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Tips You Should Know

Ever wondered how to get tar off shoes? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! You have stumbled onto the right article!

Tar has a famous reputation for being one of the hardest and trickiest substances to remove from shoes. Once it touches the surface of the shoe, it seems to soak into all its pores.

Even when the surface layer of tar is removed, it leaves behind a sticky residue that then serves as a magnet for dust, mud, and the like. Not the most pleasant experience, for sure!

We usually associate tar with freshly tarred roads that we (for the most part) manage to successfully avoid on our daily walks. Unless we’re construction workers or something like that. However, there are other kinds of tar, like the beach, turpentine, or roofing, all of which present a serious cleaning challenge.

There’s no need to be discouraged and toss your shoes away if they get tar on them. There are so many easy and effective ways for you to remove the tar and restore your beloved shoes, making them look brand-new.

Therefore, if you want to be fit for the challenge and learn how to get tar off shoes, keep on reading! I’m about to spill all the tea for you.

Things to do before you attempt to get tar off your shoes

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Ways You Should Know

First of all, there are a few things you need to consider before you proceed with your “getting the tar off” mission.

When you discover a tar stain on your shoe, it’s usually your first instinct to take a dry cloth and remove it immediately. This reaction is understandable, but you should know that tar stain is not your typical stain.

Wiping the tar stain on your shoes with a dry cloth or a paper tissue will only cause the stain to spread, making it even harder to clean later. So, it’s advisable to leave the tar stain to dry and wait until you get home or somewhere where you can clean it properly.

Also, if tar or any kind of sticky substance is a part of your everyday life, consider carrying alcohol wipes with you so you can clean the stain on the go.

Hand sanitizer can also be helpful and it’s highly accessible today. Almost every person carries a hand sanitizer with them. And if not, then surely any type of building probably has it displayed on its entrance.

So, all in all, the most important thing is to leave the stain alone. In times of panic, try to stay calm and let the stain dry completely, so you could properly clean it back home. Take a look at the tips below to learn about the proper cleaning ways and find out how to get tar off shoes.

How to get tar off your shoes?

We all know how stubborn tar stains can be. Sometimes, it seems almost impossible to get them off our favorite shoes. Especially if they are brand new. That’s a special kind of heartbreak, for sure.

But fear not! There’s no need to worry. You can leave panic at the disco and learn how to get tar off shoes in no time. Below, you will see the 12 most effective and easy-to-do ways to remove tar stains.

As you will be able to see in a few seconds, many of the materials needed you undoubtedly already have at home. However, there are also some extra things you can get which are specifically designed to fight nasty tar stains.

Whatever option you decide upon, one thing is certain: your shoes will be clean and tar-stain-free in a matter of minutes. So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase and see how to get tar off shoes.

1. Use a sharp edge or a knife of some kind

This should actually be the first step before going through with the cleaning method you decided upon. This tip is especially useful if your tar stains are thick and in globs.

Cleaning your shoes right away with any type of liquid will do you no good, but rather make the cleaning process much harder. Instead of going in straight away with water and a brush, first scrape off the tar globs off your shoes.

Depending on how thick the stain is and how sturdy or delicate your shoes are, you can use anything with a sharp edge, including an old credit card, flat-head screwdriver, plastic knife, putty knife, or even a stainless steel knife.

The options are endless, really. Anything that will be able to penetrate small crevices of your shoes and scrape the tar off will do.

Make sure to be careful with knives, though. First of all, the last thing you need is to injure yourself. And second of all, you don’t want to end up having tar-free but tear-full shoes, right?

In order to avoid damaging and tearing your shoes, apply as little pressure as you can. Trust me, the sharpness of the tool you use will do the trick.

2. Remove the tar with soapy water

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Ways You Should Know

After you scraped off the tar globs from the surface of your shoes, now you can proceed with actual cleaning methods which will eliminate the tar residue. The first one is to remove the tar with soapy water.

This is probably another thing many people will first think of, and rightfully so since it can be highly effective. All you’ll need for this method is:

  • any sort of container you have
  • warm water
  • dish or laundry detergent of choice
  • smaller brush or an old toothbrush
  • a towel.

The whole process is pretty simple: pour the warm water into the container, add several squirts of the detergent, and stir to make bubbly water. Then, dip your toothbrush into it and brush away the tar stain on your shoes.

With small, circular motions, clean the stain making sure it doesn’t spread outward. When you’re satisfied with the results, thoroughly rinse your shoes in cold water and dry them with a towel.

You should know that this method might not be very efficient with more stubborn stains. Maybe you’ll need to repeat the process numerous times. Or opt for a different method altogether.

3. Use some kind of cooking oil or baby oil to remove tar off your shoes

Oil does not have to be used only for cooking. In fact, believe it or not, it is one of the best cleaning solutions your pantry hides. Oils can nourish all kinds of surfaces and loosen stains, grease, and grime. And they can be another great way to remove tar from shoes!

Oils that can help you get rid of tar stains include:

  • vegetable oil
  • olive oil
  • baby oil
  • mineral oil
  • turpentine oil.

People usually opt for the good old cooking oils (aka. vegetable or olive oils) or baby oils, since those are the ones almost every household has. If you decide to use these, the process of cleaning is very easy. All you will need is:

  • your oil of choice, of course
  • warm water
  • an old toothbrush
  • paper towel
  • and a clean and dry cloth.

Apply your oil of choice to the stain and using a circular motion scrub it with your old toothbrush. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to truly “sink in” the stain. After that, gently scrub away and remove the remaining tar. Then, wipe the stain with a paper towel.

After that, rinse your shoes with warm water to remove the stain and oil residue, and pat them dry with a cloth.

You don’t have to use your fancy extra virgin olive oil for this. Any oil, even a low-quality one will do. So, it’s best to have a bottle of it at hand, simply for cleaning purposes.

4. Use mineral oils

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Ways You Should Know

Mineral oils are another great way to remove tar stains. They can be used for many things, including removing face makeup, cleaning the pain off the skin, removing stains from clothes, and even silencing loud and creaky doors. Mineral oils we are most familiar with are petrolatum and paraffin oil.

If you decide to see how to get tar off shoes with mineral oils, all you will need is:

  • mineral oil
  • cotton balls
  • an old toothbrush
  • water
  • and a towel.

To remove the tar stain, soak your cotton balls in the mineral oil and press it on the stained area. Let it rest for about an hour (or more) and then use the old toothbrush to scrub away the tar remnants. After that, rinse your shoes in water and dry them with a towel.

5. Try using turpentine oil

Turpentine oil is often used for cleaning paintbrushes, paint rollers, and spray equipment. It’s excellent for cleaning oil-based paints, varnishes, or polyurethane application tools. It is also great as a layer on new wood before finishing.

However, if you are wondering how to get tar off shoes – turpentine oil can be your go-to method!

To remove tar stains, all you will need is:

  • turpentine oil, of course
  • soft cloth
  • and water.

Pour a bit of turpentine oil on your soft cloth and brush over the stain using a circular motion. Rub your cloth until the stain is gone, and if necessary, add more turpentine oil. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, of course.

When you notice the stain is gone, rinse your shoes in water and let them air dry for as long as needed. And voilà – you removed the tar stain and your shoes are as good as new!

6. Use petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is another great way to get tar off shoes. It is in fact a combination of waxes and mineral oils and, as we all surely know, is originally intended as a topical ointment.

However, Vaseline can also be used for cleaning as it is amazing for cleaning stains from candle wax, chewing gums, makeup, and crayons. And of course, tar stains, too.

If you want to see how petroleum jelly (aka. Vaseline) performs as a tar stain cleaner, you will need:

  • any kind of Vaseline you have
  • an old toothbrush
  • a paper towel
  • some water
  • and a soft cloth or a towel.

Dip the paper towel into Vaseline and rub it on the tar stain on your shoes in a circular motion. Leave it for a couple of minutes to “sink in” so the tar on the shoes can loosen up. After several minutes, remove the paper towel and gently brush the area with an old toothbrush, until the tar completely comes off.

With another, clean paper towel, wipe any Vaseline and tar residue off. Then, rinse your shoes in water and dry them with a soft cloth or a towel.

And that’s basically it! Pretty easy, right?

7. Use nail polish remover

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Ways You Should Know

You haven’t thought about this one, have you? But yes, you can remove tar stains off your shoes with nail polish remover, too.

Many nail polish removers contain acetone, which is a highly effective cleaning solvent. Acetone breaks down grease, waxes, resins, and other tricky substances and leaves any kind of surface stain-free.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have 100% acetone at home. A regular nail polish remover will do the job since even the simplest and cheapest composition already contains 90% acetone and 10% water. So you don’t necessarily have to run to the store to buy pure acetone.

To clean tar stains off your shoes, you will need:

  • colorless nail polish remover
  • cotton balls
  • some water
  • and a towel

Soak some cotton balls in acetone as you would while removing nail polish. Rub them over the tar stain in circular motions and use new cotton balls soaked in acetone until the stain fades.

When you notice the stain is gone, rinse your shoes in water and dry them with a towel. And just like that, you’ll have clean, tar-free shoes in no time.

8. Get tar off shoes by using WD-40

I think almost every household has a can of WD-40 lying around somewhere. And if you don’t, then you’re seriously missing out. This multi-use product is great for many things, including rust prevention, penetration of stuck parts, moisture displacement, and lubrication.

It is also amazing for cleaning as it successfully removes gums from pretty much any type of surface, destroys grime from tile grout lines, removes gooey label residue from glass jars, separates stuck glassware, and much more.

WD-40 does it all, even removing stubborn tar stains off shoes. If you want to test it and see for yourself, you will need:

  • a can of WD-40
  • some old newspapers
  • an old toothbrush
  • some water
  • and a towel

Place the newspapers on the floor or any type of surface and place your shoes on top of them. Spray the stained area with WD-40 and let it sit for a couple of minutes. After that, gently scrub the stain with an old toothbrush, making sure you’re not spreading the stain any further.

When you’re satisfied with the results, rinse your shoes with water and dry them with a towel. And that’s about it!

9. Try using rubbing alcohol

This is another common household chemical. Rubbing alcohol is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water, and sometimes it can contain other ingredients as well. It can be used as a part of one’s personal care for sanitizing, disinfecting, or eliminating odors, and also as a general household cleaning agent.

Rubbing alcohol works great in removing dark stains on leather surfaces and is good at removing all kinds of discolorations. This liquid also works wonders in softening the bonds of adhesives and, of course, is another efficient way to remove tar stains from shoes.

So, how to get tar off shoes using rubbing alcohol? Easy! All you will need is:

  • some rubbing alcohol
  • a clean rag or a towel
  • and an old toothbrush

Don’t be shy and generously pour rubbing alcohol onto the rag or a towel. Place the saturated rag on the shoes, targeting the tar stain, of course, and leave it the for a couple of minutes. In time, the rubbing alcohol will slowly loosen and dissolve the sticky tar on the shoe.

After about 30 minutes have passed, and you notice the stain is starting to fade, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the stain away from the shoes. If needed, repeat the entire process until the tar stain is forever gone.

And just like that – your shoes are clean again!

10. Use lighter fluid to remove tar off your shoes

How To Get Tar Off Shoes? 12 Effective Ways You Should Know

This is a serious fire hazard, for sure! So, before we jump into this method please, please be careful.

Lighter fluid is an amazing cleaning solution for removing tar stains off shoes because it is able to quickly dissolve the stickiness and ensures an easy cleaning process. Here’s what you will need:

  • lighter fluid
  • cotton balls
  • any kind of dish soap
  • some water
  • and a towel

Soak your cotton balls in lighter fluid and with circular motions rub them on the tar stains on your shoes. By doing so, you’ll ensure the stain is losing its stickiness and is slowly but surely dissolving. Make sure you re-apply new and freshly soaked cotton balls every now and then to the stained area.

After the stain is almost gone, wash your shoes in soapy and rinse them in clean water, and at the end dry them with a towel.

Another thing I want you to do is use protective gloves and a face mask. Breathing in even the smallest amount of lighter fluid is enough to cause some serious breathing difficulties. And it can cause burns or rashes when it comes into contact with the skin.

So just be careful and you’ll have the cleanest shoes ever!

11. Use white vinegar

This is another common household item that is used for many different things, from pickling to disinfecting and, in our case, even removing tar stains from shoes. It is highly versatile and effective since it magically loosens any kind of sticky substance.

To use it as a tar remover, you’ll need:

  • white vinegar
  • warm water
  • any type of liquid dish soap
  • small container or a bowl
  • and a clean rag or a towel

To a bowl of warm water add three spoons of white vinegar and one spoon of liquid dish soap. Apply this cleaning concoction with a rag or a towel to the stain on the shoe. Using circular motions, rub the rag over the stain until it vanishes, after which you’ll rinse your shoes with clean water and let them dry.

And that’s it! As simple as that!

12. Invest in commercial tar remover

Last but certainly not least, if you constantly wonder how to get tar off shoes since you get them stained very often, think about investing in commercial tar removers.

Cleaners specifically designed to remove tar off the shoes can be highly effective since they were custom-made for that specific purpose. You can apply the cleaner to a specific area and leave it on for an hour or more. And the stain will practically slide off your shoes!

You can also find cleaners specially designed for removing tar in the automotive section. These cleaners can be extremely powerful and not damaging to your shoes.