Tar is an essential part of roofing and paving roads, but you can even encounter tar while walking on the beach.
Tar is so sticky that it can adhere to your skin before you have fully realized that you’ve touched it, and getting it off your skin can seem impossible.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about having tar on your skin for the rest of your life.
We’ve done the research, and learning how to clean tar off of your skin is easy.
All you need are a few everyday household items to remove the tar and get back to enjoying your work or beach vacation.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a few common household items to clean tar off your skin.
The oil product can be any type of oil you have, including but not limited to baby oil, butter, sunflower oil, suntan oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Now that you have everything you need, read on to find step-by-step instructions on how to get tar off your skin.
1. Wash the affected area
Wash the area with soap and cool water once you realize that you have tar on your skin.
Allow the affected part of your skin to soak in soapy water while gently periodically rubbing it with a pumice stone.
Doing this will not altogether remove the tar, but it should help remove some of it.
2. Apply some mayonnaise to the affected area
Apply a thick layer of mayonnaise to the tar and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes.
The mayonnaise will begin breaking down the tar, making it easier to remove from your skin.
After about 30 minutes, wipe the mayo and tar away with a cleaning cloth.
Pro tip: If you do not have any mayonnaise, you can use other types of thick cream, like Neosporin or petroleum jelly. None of these products will injure you, so you can reapply if the first coat is not enough to remove all the tar.
3. Rub with a pumice stone and rinse
After the mayonnaise has sat for about 30 minutes, rewash the area to remove any residue or loose tar pieces.
Gently rub the remaining tar with the pumice stone to remove any additional softened pieces, using soapy water to keep the area flexible.
Do not rub aggressively with your pumice stone because you could injure your skin.
Rubbing the skin around the tar raw will make removing the tar itself more difficult and painful.
4. Apply a household oil to the Affected Area
If the mayonnaise did not completely clean the tar from your skin, grab a household oil.
This can be any oil you have on hand, like olive oil, butter, or baby oil.
Apply the oil to the tar and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes to give the oil time to work on the tar.
5. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry
After the oil has worked on the tar for at least 20 minutes, wipe the oil and the tar away.
You may find yourself gently peeling or scraping the softened tar off your skin, which is normal.
Then, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to remove any lingering residue.
Be gentle as you finish removing the tar.
Here is a video demonstrating how to remove tar from skin.
0:28—Soak the tar in soapy water and rub it with a pumice stone.
0:39—Apply some mayonnaise or cooking oil to the tar.
0:43—Rub the affected area with a pumice stone again and rinse.
0:47—Apply oil to the affected area like baby oil or suntan oil, and then buff with a pumice stone again.
0:56—If needed, apply a bit of commercial solvent to remove any remaining tacky areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can tar on my skin hurt me?
Tar is usually warm when it adheres to skin, so there is a potential that the tar could injure you.
Run cool water over the affected area until the tar has cooled entirely or for at least 20 minutes.
You can also soak the affected area in cool water for the same amount of time.
Doing this will cool the tar and halt any burning that may occur.
Most small tar stains can be removed safely at home, but there are some situations where you may need to consult a doctor.
If the tar is still hot after running it under cool water or if it feels like it is burning, consult a doctor immediately.
Also, if the tar is near your eyes or covers a large part of your body, get a doctor’s help to remove the tar to prevent any long-lasting damage or injury to your skin.
Can I use gasoline to remove tar from my skin?
There are suggestions for removing tar involving harsh chemicals like gasoline or nail polish remover.
While they can help you clean tar from your skin, we do not recommend using them because they may absorb into your skin.
These chemicals can be dangerous if absorbed into your body, and they can also damage the affected skin, making the tar more painful to remove, so try to stick to products that will not harm your skin if absorbed.
If you have difficulty removing the tar, consult a doctor instead of turning to harsh chemicals at home.
What can I use if I don’t have a pumice stone?
If you do not have a pumice stone, try to use another exfoliating product.
Baking soda is abrasive, so it will help to exfoliate and remove the tar.
You can even make one out of baking soda.
Mix three parts baking soda with one part water.
This mixture should create a thick paste that you can apply to the affected area of your skin.
When you use your baking soda paste to the tar, rub it on gently and then allow it to sit for several minutes so that it can dry.
Then, remove the baking soda and the tar with a cleaning cloth or paper towel.
How Do You Remove Hardened Tar?
If you have hardened tar on something other than skin, use WD-40 or Goo Gone.
Spray either the Goo Gone or WE-40 onto a clean cloth.
Liberally rub the cloth over the tar and let the solution soak into the tar for 10 to 30 minutes.
After waiting for 10 to 30 minutes, use a clean damp cloth and scrub the stained area until the hardened tar is completely removed.