How To Remove Tar Stains From Clothes

If you work in road work or have done some DIY driveway maintenance, you may have had the unfortunate experience of getting tar on your clothing.

Whether it is your pants, socks, or shirt, you will need to use some elbow grease to get those tar stains out – using the washing machine will not fix it on its own.

If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t worry; we have also been there.

We did some research to find out exactly how to remove tar stains from clothes.

Continue reading below to find out what materials you will need.

What You’ll Need

The above items are all you will need to get tar stains out of clothing.

Continue reading for step-by-step instructions on how to remove tar stains from your clothes.

1. Apply Vegetable Oil To The Tar Stain

Carefully apply about five drops of vegetable oil to the tar stain.

Avoid using too much as this can cause a mess, or take extra steps to remove the oily substance eventually.

If your tar stain is more significant, you can use more vegetable oil to address the stain.

The vegetable oil will help to lubricate the tar stain.

2. Apply Liquid Dish Soap To The Tar Stain

Pour about half a tablespoon of liquid dish soap onto the tar stain.

Consider using more liquid dish soap if the tar stain is more extensive. 

3. Scrub The Tar Stain With A Toothbrush

Using an old but clean toothbrush, scrub the tar stain and the vegetable oil and liquid dish soap you had applied earlier.

Be sure not to scrub too far out from the tar stain to avoid spreading the tar stain on your clothes.

Feel free to periodically rinse off the toothbrush to remove the tar from the brush.

4. Apply Liquid Laundry Detergent 

Apply about half a tablespoon of liquid detergent to the tar stain.

If the tar stain is more prominent, be sure to use enough of the liquid laundry detergent, but not too much. 

5. Scrub The Tar Stain With A Toothbrush

Scrub the tar stain with the liquid laundry detergent using the same toothbrush.

It would be best if you had not rinsed or removed the previous vegetable oil and liquid dish soap.

You will be scrubbing the liquid laundry detergent over these. 

Continue to scrub the tar stain and see how the tar stain is being removed from the clothing. 

6. Remove Excess Tar And Cleaning Solution

Using a paper towel, remove the foamy substance of tar, vegetable oil, liquid dish soap, and liquid laundry detergent. Remove as much of this substance as you can. 

7. Rinse The Tar Stain

Rinse the tar stain using warm water.

Take the toothbrush and scrub the tar stain again while rinsing with warm water.

Doing this will help remove any remaining tar, vegetable oil, liquid dish soap, and liquid laundry detergent from the clothing.

Be sure that you have rinsed the toothbrush before scrubbing so that you do not add more tar back onto the clothing. 

After noticing the tar stain has been completely removed from your clothing, you can wash and dry as normal.

If there remains some tar on your clothing, repeat the steps above until it has been entirely removed. 

Video Instructions

  • Step 1 (:22) — Apply vegetable oil
  • Step 2 (:39) – Apply liquid dish soap
  • Step 3 (:49) – Scrub with a toothbrush
  • Step 4 (1:07) – Apply liquid laundry detergent
  • Step 5 (1:14) – Scrub with a toothbrush
  • Step 6 (1:38) – Remove excess tar and cleaning solution
  • Step 7 (1:51) – Rinse the tar stain


Does Vinegar Remove Tar?

Vinegar can be used to remove tar.

If you decide to go this route, first scrape up as much tar as possible using a dull knife or anything similar.

Apply any type of dry-cleaning solvent such as ForceField Dry Cleaning Fluid with a sponge.

Next, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar and add this to two cups of warm water.

Blot the stain with this detergent and vinegar solution until all of the liquid is absorbed.

Apply cold water to a different sponge and sponge the area then blot it dry.

How Do You Remove Dried Tar? 

You can go one of two ways with this: heat or cold.

You can use heat to loosen the tar from your clothing, which may make it more pliable and easier to remove.

Be careful not to overheat the tar, or it may cause the tar to spread further on your clothing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can use cold to help you remove the tar.

You can place ice cubes in a plastic bag and apply them to the tar stain or place the clothing in the freezer for an hour or so.

This simple process will cause the tar to harden more and be easier to scrape and flake away if there is a lot of tar on your clothing.

Be careful with this route that you do not tear or damage the fabric of your clothing. 

Does WD-40 Remove Tar From Clothes? 

You can, as long as the clothing is made of a fabric that you run through the washing machine and dryer.

You can apply a small amount of WD-40 to the tar stain.

Since WD-40 is a lubricant, it can help to lubricate the tar stain to be removed more easily.

This process can also apply to any other lubricant that you have at home, such as cooking oils, such as coconut and olive oil, and essential oils.

Be sure after you remove the tar stain from clothing that you are sure to clean the clothing well to remove the oily substance.

Does Peanut Butter Remove Tar? 

While it may seem an unorthodox method, yes, peanut butter can remove tar.

It is similar to WD-40 and other oils due to the oils in the peanut butter.

It serves as a lubricant that can help to remove the tar from your clothing.

As with other oil-based methods, you will want to make sure you clean it very well before wearing it again.

Otherwise, there may be an oil stain on your clothing instead of a tar stain.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Remove Tar?

Yes, rubbing alcohol can remove a tough stain, such as tar.

The alcohol in the rubbing alcohol should break down and dissolve the tar, loosening any adhesion of the tar to your clothing.

These attributes are also shared by solvents such as kerosene and miner spirits.

These solvents help to dissolve the tar from your clothing.

Because these are so powerful, it is essential that you wear protective gear, keep windows open, or do this outside so that you do not inhale the fumes of these solvents.