Remove tar from clothes

How to Remove Tar from Clothing

Table of Contents:

  1. You Will Need
  2. Steps to Remove the Tar
  3. Additional Tips and Advice
  4. Sources


Joe asked: How do I remove tar from clothing? While crossing a railroad bridge, I leaned over the edge and got tar on my slacks. The tar was seeping out of the cracks in the wood rail on the bridge. It was a hot day.

Sticky, gooey tar sticks to clothing like gum clings to hair. To remove the tar, it requires lubricating it with some type of oil to help it release from the fabric fibers. Follow these guidelines to safely and effectively remove tar from your clothing.

You Will Need:

  • Ice cubes
  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Lubricants (choose one):
    • WD-40
    • Lard
    • Bacon grease
    • Vegetable oil
    • Liquid vegetable glycerin
    • Peanut butter
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Goo Gone
    • Goof Off
  • Soft cloths
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish liquid
  • Liquid solvent:
    • White kerosene
    • Lighter fluid
  • Laundry stain pre-treatment
  • Baking soda

Steps to Remove the Tar:

  1. For large areas with tar, it is best to scrape away as much as possible. Harden the tar with ice and then use a spoon or dull knife to scrape it away.
  2. The residue left in the fabric will need some lubrication to be removed. This is especially true for old, dry tar deposits. Lay a soft cloth under the stain to absorb any excess lubricant.
  3. Choose a lubricant from the list above.
  4. Blot it onto the stained area with a soft cloth. You will want to moisten the stain completely with the lubricant.
  5. Scrub the area gently with a cloth or blot with pressure to work the lubricant into the stain.
  6. Allow it to set for a little while, then blot the stain with a cloth. Turn the cloth to a fresh area as the tar is transferred to it.
  7. When you have blotted off as much tar residue as possible, rub some laundry detergent or dish liquid directly into the stain, then wash the item as usual. Use the hottest water setting that is safe for the fabric.
  8. Do not dry the clothing until you are sure the stain is removed. If placed in the dryer, the tar will melt and transfer to the walls of the dryer. This will then spread to other pieces of clothing, making a larger mess.
  9. If a stain remains, you can either use a liquid solvent to remove it or baking soda.
    1. To use a liquid solvent, sponge the stain with either kerosene or lighter fluid. Let the stains it for about 15 minutes, then apply a laundry stain pre-wash treatment. Wash the item as usual. Do not put the item in the dryer. Instead, let it air dry. If there is any remaining fluid residue on the fabric, it may be flammable in the heat of the dryer. Wash the item again as normal to be sure the fluid residue is removed.
    2. To use baking soda, mix baking soda with some water to make a paste. It should be about the consistency of toothpaste, not runny. Apply the paste over the stain. Let the paste sit on the stain for about 15 minutes, then wash the item as usual.


Additional Tips and Advice

  • There are bug and tar removers available in any automotive department. These will remove the tar, but be sure to test a small area first to make sure there is no damage to the fabric.
  • If the tar cannot be removed, have it professionally cleaned.


  • Clean It Fast, Clean It Right by Jeff Bredenberg
  • Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest
  • Joey Green’s Cleaning Magic by Joey Green
  • Haley’s Cleaning Hints by Graham and Rosemary Haley

Removing Pine Tar from a cotton sweatshirt


Pitch, tree sap, pine tar—whatever you call it, this is a very challenging stain to get out. Try treating the stain directly with DeSolvIt or Goo Gone, which you can find at hardware stores. You should first test for colorfastness (apply a drop to a hidden part of the garments, rinse, and blot dry) if you want to be sure the product is safe for the sweatshirt. If there is no color change, rub a little into the sap/pitch and then wash with detergent in the hottest water allowed (check the care label). Allow to air dry and then check for success. You may need to repeat the treatment to remove the stain fully, so it’s very important to keep the item out of a hot dryer to avoid heat-setting any residual stain that would otherwise come out with a second treatment. If you want to lengthen the time you pre-treat the stains before washing, you may want to check colorfastness again with a longer contact time—just don’t let the product dry on the fabric. Pine tar is difficult to remove but it is worth a shot!

Tar is the sticky, black substance that usually appears on the lower part of your car. Often it is seen behind your wheel wells and on the lower half of the side doors, though in extreme cases it can be on the hood, grille, roof, and windows of your vehicle.

Where does all this tar come from? It is a substance used in asphalting, and when you drive on recently laid asphalt or drive over recently filled potholes tar can splash up onto your car. Or, if you drive past equipment that is performing roadwork, you may even get tar splashed onto your vehicle.

Removing tar from your vehicle is a different process than removing bugs or sap, because tar is an oil-based substance. It doesn’t fully harden for several years and doesn’t come off well with natural cleaners. A solvent-based cleaner is needed to properly remove tar, though tar removers often also work well to remove bugs and sap from a vehicle’s surface. After removing the tar, you should also wash and wax your car to make it shine.

Method 1 of 2: Using a tar remover spray

Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Car wax
  • Microfiber towels
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Tar remover

Step 1: Wet your cloth with tar remover. The cloth shouldn’t be saturated to the point of dripping.

If there is a large area with tar spots, you can apply your tar remover directly onto the car.

Step 2: Wipe over the tar spots. Move your cloth in small circles over the spots of tar.

When your cloth is dirty, flip it over and use a clean section. The tar spots will soften and come off with light pressure. As they dissolve, wipe any streaks that are left behind on your car.

Step 3: Repeat wherever needed. Apply these steps to any other areas that have tar spots.

Make sure to use the same small circular motion when cleaning.

Step 4: Wash your car. Once all of the tar spots have been removed, wash your car.

Using a mild detergent and warm water, wash your vehicle, starting at the top and moving down to the bottom. Rinse with clean water.

Step 5: Check your vehicle for any remaining tar spots. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to perform additional spot touchups.

Step 6: Wax your car. Once you make sure all tar spots are gone and your car looks clean, wax it.

This helps seal and protect the paint of the vehicle.

Method 2 of 2: Using household products to remove tar

Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Car wax
  • Household product (such as peanut butter or WD-40)
  • Microfiber towels
  • Mild soap or detergent

In addition to professional cleaning products, you can use a variety of household items to remove tar from your vehicle’s surface. Some of the more common substances include peanut butter or WD-40.

Step 1: Apply the household product. Depending on what type of product you use, either spray it directly on the tar or apply it using a microfiber towel.

When using WD-40, spray it directly on the area containing the tar. Allow the WD-40 to sit on the tar for at least 30 seconds so that it completely soaks in.

As an option, you can spray the WD-40 directly onto the microfiber towel and apply it that way.

If using a household product, such as peanut butter, use a microfiber towel to apply a liberal amount of creamy, not chunky, peanut butter to the area containing tar. Allow to sit on the tar for at least 30 seconds.

Step 2: Wipe area with a microfiber cloth. Using a soft, microfiber towel, wipe the area clean of both the household product and the tar.

Make sure to use a soft cloth, because an abrasive cloth can scratch the vehicle’s surface. Repeat the process until all of the tar comes off.

Step 3: Wash your vehicle. Using mild detergent and water, thoroughly wash the exterior of your vehicle.

Once you have washed your vehicle, rinse it off using clean water. Wax your vehicle if necessary.

To remove tar from your vehicle’s surface takes a few basic steps. You have a few options to choose from when doing this process, including using a professional tar remover or even an item from within your household, such as WD-40 or peanut butter. If you have any questions about removing tar from the outside of your vehicle, Ask a Mechanic to find out more.

Removing Tar from a Car

There are some items in your kitchen that may be successful in removing tar. Butter, creamy peanut butter, or vegetable oil applied to the tar and left for 12 to 24 hours should soften in and make it easier to remove. If that doesn’t work there are a few items from the garage that may work. WD-40, kerosene, or mineral spirits applied directly to the tar should soften it up and make it easier to remove. WD-40, kerosene, or mineral spirits will most likely remove wax from your car as well.

By ThriftyFun


Cleaning Tar From Your Car

Peanut butter works well, and is fairly cheap, although it takes a little bit of elbow grease. (06/23/2006)

By Steve

I recently got tar on my car from a construction site around my apartment, I was terrified it wouldn’t come out and it was a lot of it sprayed on the side. The car was only 2 weeks old. I knew my hubby would be so upset, so I saw the recommendation of Skin so Soft by Avon. I knew I had some, so I got it and a rag and tried it. I was amazed at how well it worked. I didn’t have to rub too hard and it started coming out. (10/03/2006)

By Amanda

A paper towel dabbed in corn oil worked on mine. It took it of with some light rubbing. Then a quick rinse with some water did the job. (05/26/2007)

By Sooty

The best product I found is Grease B Gone from State Industries, but it is not cheap. $21.00 per pint. (08/01/2007)

By Glen

I tried several things to get the tar (the tar was pretty thick) off my van, Skin So Soft, car polish, etc. Then I tried WD40 which worked like a dream. I had to spray it several times, but it really broke up the tar and I was able to wipe it off fairly easily. (11/19/2007)

By Barbara Army

Yes, baking soda does work! I had 5 spots in one night on my new car, including the windshield and I just put the baking soda on the spots and used a wet rag and “bam” it came out. I couldn’t believe it! Thanks for the tip. (01/18/2008)

By Josh

I just went out and tried a few of these suggestions and for me rubbing with baking soda first and coming back to the hard spots with veggie oil was great. Now my hubby won’t let me get a new car because the problem is solved. Thanks whoever had this great idea! (02/09/2008)

By la

One word, two syllables, Gunwash! It is the easiest way to remove tar from vehicle. Use any clean rag with a bit of Gunwash. It will smudge on first few passes, but with in seconds, boom done. No letting it sit or waiting. Final pass, only swipe in one direction! (06/23/2008)

By Car Cleaning Master

I found the bicarb helpful, but when I used eucalyptus oil poured onto a teaspoon of bicarb that had been placed on a damp rag, the results were fantastic! Much less elbow grease was required and a sparkling car afterwards. It works heaps better than a leading brand of tar remover that was useless! (10/03/2008)

By West Aussie guest post

I used Goof Off and it works wonders. I had the tar stuck on my car for a whole weekend and I removed it using Goof Off. (11/17/2008)

By Manny

Goo Gone works great for getting smoke residue off the windows. Wipe it on, scrub a bit, then wipe it off with a dry microfiber cloth. The microfiber is key to getting a streak-free, residue-free shine.

I am not sure about on painted surfaces, but since it works for painted walls indoors I would guess it might go okay. The Avon bath oil is a good idea. I will have to try it.


By bananapopsicle

The baking soda was amazing. Within a minute or two it softened it right up and I could wipe it off. It also worked well on rubbing off bike tire marks on my bumper. (01/16/2009)

By Sara

I tried the baking soda and that did work. However, another item we had around the house worked even better, Simple Green. It’s just an all-purpose cleaner and it worked great! We just sprayed it on and we wiped the tar off like we were wiping off dirt.


By Peggy

This sticky, icky black stuff gets traipsed into your house after nearby roads have been resurfaced. Watch out for it after a trip to the beach, too for some reason, it’s often found in sand!

General directions Scrape carefully with a blunt knife to remove surface deposits. Follow the directions below for specific fabrics.

Carpet Tar that has hardened may need softening first with a solution made up of equal parts of water and glycerine. Leave for up to an hour, then rinse with clean water and blot well. Then use a proprietary carpet cleaner, such as Bissell OxyKIC, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Washable fabrics Hold an absorbent pad (such as a wad of paper towels) over the stain and dab it from underneath with paper towels moistened with eucalyptus oil (available from pharmacies). WD-40 also works well. Move to a clean area of the pad and towels frequently. Repeat until no more of the stain transfers to the towels. Rub liquid detergent into the remnants of the stain, and machine-wash on as high a temperature as the fabric allows.

Stubborn traces Soak the item in an oxygen-based, colour-safe bleaching product. Check the garment’s care label first and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

On surfaces Spray a little WD-40 on the affected area and leave for thirty seconds. Wipe away carefully with a clean, damp cloth.

Buy the Good Housekeeping Spills, Spots And Stains book.
It’s packed full with tips and information about stains – and how to remove them.

how to remove tar from carpet

COIT’s Guide on How to Remove Tar Stains from Carpet

When it comes time to remove tar from carpet, there are a few solutions that you can apply to tackle this tough carpet stain. In COIT’s guide to tar stain removal, we’ll give you step-by-step guidance to keep your carpet looking its best.

How to Remove Tar from Carpet: Method # 1

  1. Upon discovering the tar stain, be sure to remove as much of the stain as you can. Blot the stain to remove any tar residue.
  2. Vacuum the tar stain to get rid of any remaining particles.
  3. To create a cleaning solution, mix warm water and ¼ cup of liquid dish soap.
  4. Apply this cleaning solution directly to the tar stain. Slowly work from the outside of the tar stain to the center, moving slowly inward so you don’t spread the stain further onto the carpet.
  5. Rinse the tar stain with cold water and repeat steps 1 through 4 until the stain disappears.
  6. If the stain has not fully disappeared, you may want to consider professional carpet cleaning, which utilizes specialized stain removal equipment.
  7. If you’re able to use this method to successfully remove tar from carpet, place a dry paper towel directly onto the affected area. Weigh down the paper towels and allow them to soak up any moisture from the carpet. Leave overnight.
  8. Vacuum the area.

Following the above mentioned steps should be a good start when wondering how to clean tar off carpet.

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How to Clean Tar off Carpet: Method # 2

If the above mentioned method is not successfully removing the tar stain from your carpet, try the following:

  1. Moisten the affected area of the carpet with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Let the tar stain sit for 1 minute.
  3. Blot with a paper towel to absorb any remaining stain.
  4. Apply a few paper towels directly onto the area with a weight and let it sit overnight.

How to Remove Tar from Carpet: Method # 3

This tar stain removal technique involves a bit of store-bought cleaning solution, along with some rubbing alcohol. Before calling a professional carpet cleaner, you can try this do-it-yourself solution to remove tar from carpet.

  1. As soon as you discover the tar stain, it’s important to act quickly by scooping up any tar using a knife or spoon.
  2. If you have any store-bought carpet cleaning solutions available (sometimes these can help when wondering how to remove tar from carpet), try testing a small area of your carpet to see the effects it has. You’ll want to test a small portion to make sure it doesn’t damage your carpet.
  3. Pour a bit of rubbing alcohol directly onto the tar stain. Blot with a dry, clean cloth.

If you can still see any remaining stain on your carpet, you can also try applying a bit of WD-40 (who knew WD-40 could help you answer the question of how to remove tar from carpet?) then gently working it into the stained area. Remember to try a bit on a smaller area of your carpet before applying it to the stained area.

The above mentioned methods are meant to be quick solutions to keep your carpet in good shape. For an even deeper clean that will extend the life of your carpet, consider COIT carpet cleaning services to learn more. Don’t forget to checkout our coupons!

Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible. These are suggested treatments only and COIT can’t be held accountable for any damage sustained by use of the treatments in this spot removal guide.

Removing Roofing Tar from Carpet

The carpets in our homes pick up and hold on to almost everything they come in contact with, dirt, hair, dust, and other particles are everyday things that are in every carpet. Stains from these and similar substances are fairly easy to deal with because we all have had to at some point, roofing tar on the other hand is not really a stain most people get in their carpets yet it is more common than you may think. Roofing tar is an oil based product that will not come out of carpet fibers by only using soap and water, a degreaser of some sort is needed to breakdown the stain. Before you treat the stain make sure you have removed any excess tar that may be sitting on or in the carpet, get as much out as you can. Here are a few ways to get rid of a tar stain in you carpet.

  1. A dry cleaning solvent may work on a small fresh stain. Spray the solvent directly on the spot soaking the fibers and let it sit. After a while, using a clean white rag gently dab the stain out using short flicking movements. This is the mildest of the stain lifters for tar and should be attempted first, if the stain is still present, then move on to the next step.
  2. Go-Jo, Goop, or similar hand cleaners are considered degreasers and can be used to remove the tar stain. Apply a good amount of the cleaner to the affected area, carefully covering the whole stain, then gently work it into the fibers of the carpet and allow time for the tar to begin to breakdown. Then with a rag dab out the cleaner and the stain until no tar is coming out, rinse the area with a damp cloth, if the stain is still not gone, be careful not to smear it around while doing this.
  3. WD-40 sprayed directly onto the stain and left to sit for a while will penetrate the tar and pull it out of the fibers. In the same manner as before, gentle flicking motions with a clean cloth will pull out the stain, next you want to wash out the WD-40with a mild detergent like dish soap and some water, rinse the area thoroughly.
  4. If nothing else has worked you can try gasoline. On a clean cloth pour enough gas to wet the spot but not enough for it to drip. Use this to blot the area wetting the entire stain. Letting the gas soak into the fibers and dissolve the tar, grab another clean rag and with the same movements as motioned earlier dab the stain until it is gone. The gasoline should completely remove the stain and evaporate pretty quickly, the smell will only last for about a day if the area is well ventilated.

These methods will work to get at least some of the stain out, if not all of it, however if the stain will not come out you should think about removing the area of the carpet and replacing the patch. If you have a scrap piece of carpet you are in business otherwise you will need to try and find some carpet that will match or get really close to matching yours. Remember when applying any cleaner to your carpet, especially the gasoline, to test a hidden area of the carpet or a scrap to make sure it will not be harmed in the stain removal process, and do not give up too easily, it is possible for you to get that stain out.

How to Clean Tar from Carpet

Hilliards asked, “What to use to get road tar or oil out of carpet?”

Table of Contents:

  1. The Glycerin Method
  2. The Turpentine Method
  3. Additional Tips and Advice
  4. Sources


Road tar is purposely made to withstand water, be sticky and also to be durable. However, it can be removed even from someplace as delicate as carpet. Select a method below and follow the steps to remove the tar. A fresh tar stain is easier to remove than an older one, so treat the stain as soon as possible.¹

The Glycerin Method

  • Ice
  • Plastic scraper or spatula
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Shaving foam
  • Water
  • Towel
  1. For deposits of tar larger than a coin, rub the tar with ice cubes so that it solidifies and turns brittle, then use a plastic scraper or spatula to chip and scrape the tar off the carpet.¹
  2. If you don’t have any ice or the tar deposit is small, scoop off as much as possible with a spoon or spatula. Try not to grind the tar further into the carpet as you scrape it off.¹
  3. Apply vegetable glycerin in liquid form to the remaining tar and stain. Leave the glycerin on the stain for about an hour, then blot up as much of the tar and stain as you can with paper towels.²
  4. Repeat the glycerin procedure until the tar and majority of the tar stain is removed.²
  5. When the tar and stain are gone, apply white foam shaving cream to the area and rub it into the carpet fibers. If you don’t have shaving foam, you can use a foaming carpet cleaner instead.²
  6. Sponge the area with water to rinse off the glycerin and shaving foam, then blot the area dry with a towel.²

The Turpentine Method

  • Ice
  • Plastic scraper or spatula
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Olive oil
  • Turpentine
  • WD-40
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lighter fluid
  • Kerosene
  • Dish liquid
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Tar:

  1. For deposits of tar larger than a coin, rub the tar with ice cubes so that it solidifies and turns brittle. Then, use a plastic scraper or spatula to chip and scrape the tar off the carpet.¹
  2. If you don’t have any ice or the tar deposit is small, scoop off as much as possible with a spoon or spatula. Try not to grind the tar further into the carpet as you scrape it off.¹
  3. If the remaining tar is brittle or dry, apply petroleum jelly¹ or warm olive oil to soften it so that it can be removed with the methods below.³
  4. Use turpentine, WD-40⁴, mineral spirits⁵, non-butane lighter fluid or kerosene¹ to remove the remaining tar and stain. Ventilate the area well and put on gloves, then test your selected cleaner on a small, hidden area of the carpet first to look for any adverse effects. If safe, apply the solvent to a cloth and blot the tar until it is gone. Turn the cloth to a fresh area as the stain is transferred to the cloth.⁴
  5. When the tar and stain are gone, mix a few drops of dish liquid in water to make suds and blot the area with the soapy water to rinse off the cleaning solution.⁶
  6. Sponge the area with water to rinse off any residue from the dish liquid, then blot the area dry with a towel.²


  • Do not use any water on the tar or stain until it is completely removed, as water can cause the tar stain to set.¹
  • Dry cleaning solvent can also be effective on tar stains. Follow the instructions on the label of your selected cleaner.⁵
  • Use caution when working with mineral spirits. See Wikipedia for more safety information.
  1. Clean it Fast, Clean it RIGHT by Jeff Bredenberg
  2. Joey Green’s Cleaning Magic
  3. The Spot and Stain Remover Handbook by Jean Cooper
  4. How to Clean Practically Anything by Consumer Reports
  5. The Cleaning Encyclopedia by Don Aslett
  6. Haley’s Cleaning Hints by Graham and Rosemary Haley

How to Remove Tar

Tar is often used in road building and construction projects.

Don’t fret if tar accidentally drips, splatters, or gets tracked on a surface it shouldn’t be on, as there are several methods for removing tar. The method you use will depend on the surface or material.

Car Paint

  1. Wash the tar splattered areas with a rag and warm, soapy water. Mild dish soap is fine.

  2. Apply a thick layer of creamy peanut butter over the tar splats. Allow the peanut butter to soften the tar for 24 hours.

  3. Wipe away the peanut butter and softened tar.

  4. Saturate any remaining tar spots with silicone lubricant. Allow the lubricant to saturate the tar for five minutes.

  5. Wipe away the lubricant and remaining tar.

  6. Buff the area with car wax to restore any of the car’s protective coating that may have been compromised in the cleaning process.

Concrete and Masonry

  1. Saturate the tar stain with tar and grease remover. Tar and grease remover comes in either spray can or squeeze bottle form. Be sure to get the kind that is designed for brick or concrete. It might also be called oil stain remover or concrete stain remover.

  2. Let the tar and grease remover sit on the stain for the time indicated in the directions. After the remover has had time to start to break up the tar, scrub it with a plastic bristle scrub brush. Add more remover if necessary.

  3. Rinse the area with fresh water.

Carpet and Upholstery

  1. Scrape up as much excess tar as possible with an old spoon or a similar, dull scraping device.

  2. Blot the stain with dry cleaning fluid using a sponge until the tar is liquefied.

  3. Create a solution of 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon each of white vinegar and grease-cutting dish detergent.

  4. Blot and saturate the stain with the solution.

  5. Blot the area with cold water until the stain is lifted.


  1. Scrape up as much excess tar as possible with an old spoon or a similar, dull scraping device.

  2. Blot the stain with dry cleaning fluid until the tar is lifted with a sponge.

  3. Wash the clothing in hot water, if possible. Wash the clothing in the washing machine if the item is machine washable. Otherwise, the clothing can be washed in the sink.

Things You Will Need


  • Dish detergent
  • Rags
  • Peanut butter
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Car wax
  • Grease and tar remover
  • Plastic bristle scrub brush
  • Spoon
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Dish detergent
  • Spoon
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Sponge