How To Get Tar Stains Off Shoes

Sometimes if the weather is hot, it will soften asphalt and tar on paved roads and driveways.

This added heat might lead to you getting tar stains on your shoes if you find yourself walking around in hot weather.

You might have even accidentally walked on someone’s driveway that just had fresh tar applied.

Tar is an aggressive substance that might seem impossible to remove from your shoes.

Fortunately, that is not the case.

We have been where you are and researched how to get tar stains off shoes.

Continue reading below to learn what you will need to remove the tar from your shoes.

What You’ll Need

Now that you have assembled all the materials you need, continue reading for step-by-step instructions on how to get tar stains off shoes.

1. Scrape Off The Excess Tar From Your Shoes

Starting with dry shoes and paper towels laid out on your workspace, carefully use a butter knife or toothpick to remove more significant bits of tar from your shoes.

Make sure you are doing this with care so that you do not harm the material of your shoe with a knife or toothpick.

Also, be sure not to force the tar off the shoes so that you do not pull bits of your shoe off with the tar.

2. Create A Cleaning Solution

Combine warm water and dish soap to create a soapy mix in a bowl.

The dish soap should help to lubricate the tar, and the warm water should help to loosen both the shoe material and soften the tar.

3. Brush The Tar Stain With A Toothbrush

Using your toothbrush, brush the cleaning solution over the tar stain.

Be sure to continue dipping the toothbrush into the cleaning solution to rinse the brush and not spread the tar stain over untouched parts of your shoe.

Consider replacing your cleaning solution if it gets too dark from the tar.

Doing this will also help avoid spreading the tar stain to other areas.

Ensure that you are also replacing your paper towels on your cleaning workspace so that you do not get tar in other areas of your home.

More tar flakes should be coming off the shoes while brushing them. 

4. Scrape Off The Tar 

Pause on brushing with the toothbrush and use your butterknife and toothpick to scrape more of the tar stain off of the shoes.

Doing this should allow the bits of tar to come off easier since it should be more pliable and not cling as much to the material of the shoe. 

5. Scrub The Shoe Under Running Water 

Take the shoe over to a sink and run water over your shoe.

Using the toothbrush again, scrub the tar stain on the shoe to work to remove the remainder of the tar and remove the soapy cleaning solution for the shoe.

If there is still tar on your shoe, be sure to repeat the steps above until all of the tar has been removed.

6. Allow The Shoe To Dry

Once there is no more tar stain on your shoe, you can set out your shoes to dry.

If your shoes can be run through the washing machine, consider doing that to get an extra clean shoe. 

Video Instructions

  • Step 1 (6:42) — Scrape off the tar
  • Step 2 (7:57) – Create a cleaning solution
  • Step 3 (8:45) – Brush tar stain with toothbrush and cleaning solution
  • Step 4 (9:17) – Scrape off the tar
  • Step 5 (11:51) – Scrub under running water


What Other At Home Solutions Can Be Used To Remove Tar Stains?

Some people have found success using WD 40 or baby oil.

These can be applied to the tar stains to help lubricate the stain and separate it from the shoe’s material.

You can add these into one of the steps above, but be sure that you clean the shoe thoroughly with dish soap to remove any residual WD 40 or baby oil from your shoe.

Rubbing alcohol, kerosene, or white vinegar can also be used to remove tar stains from shoes.

To different degrees, these can be used to dissolve the tar.

If you choose to apply kerosene, use it sparingly in a well-ventilated room, and be sure to clean the shoe thoroughly.

Should I Use Heat Or Cold To Remove Tar From Shoes?

Heat is what likely caused you to get into this mess in the first place.

Tar is used explicitly because heat allows the tar to be easily used and applied.

While this ease is essential to workers using the tar, it also allows for it to become liquid again and glom onto your shoes.

You can use this to your advantage, but you do not want the tar to become liquid again fully.

Using warm water will help to soften it and make it more pliable for removal.

Too warm may create a further mess on your shoes and your cleaning workspace.

You may consider placing the shoe in the freezer before any of these steps to help with scraping off the tar.

While this can help, do not be too rough on certain fabrics and shoe materials as it may cause irreversible damage to the material’s finish. 

How Do I Avoid Getting Tar On Your Shoes?

Many of your projects will require you to work directly with tar and asphalt if you work on a road crew.

While this may seem simple, don’t walk on tar; that is sometimes easier said than done.

If you live in a city and only walk around, you will likely encounter hot asphalt that has melted.

Like people with occupations requiring you to experience tar frequently, purchase shoes appropriate for your work and that are okay to get dirty with tar.

Infrequently seeing asphalt in the summer of an urban area, you can be sure that you are wearing easily cleaned shoes and consider bringing a separate pair of shoes for you to use at your final destination.