tar on shoes

How to Get Tar Off Shoes

Tar is an incredibly tough substance to clean! It is stubborn and sticky and will not be easily removed from the bottom of your shoes. You will need some patience and perseverance.

Here are a few ways to best tackle the tar.

If you can get to the tar as quickly as possible then you have a better chance of fully removing it from your shoes.

There are a few steps to this process but if you follow them carefully you should be able to get those shoes back to looking brand new.


1. Scrape Off as Much Tar as Possible

The first step in the tar removal process is to remove as much of the chunky bits of tar as possible.

This can be done with a plastic knife, an old credit card or something similar. Be careful to scrape away the bigger bits of the tar without damaging or gouging the shoes.


2. Scrub with an Old Toothbrush

remove tar on shoes with old toothbrush

This step will require both an old toothbrush and some degreasing dish soap. Keep a bowl filled with hot water nearby and wet your old toothbrush before squirting some dish soap onto it.

Use the soapy brush to scrub intensively at the spots of tar left behind on your shoes after you scraped off the bigger bits. Move the brush in careful inward circles and be careful not to scrub beyond where the mark already is as you could spread the stain.

Once you’ve worked the soap properly into the stain let it soak in for a few minutes and then rinse the shoe with cold water and dab the area dry with a cloth or towel.


3. Optionally Apply Olive or Vegetable Oil

remove tar on shoes with olive or vegetable oil

If the stain has persisted through the soap method, you may need to consider the next step in this process.

You will still need your toothbrush for this step but now you will be moving on to using oil to tackle this stain.

Oil is an excellent product for tackling tough, greasy marks as long as they are on a surface that will not be stained by the oil.

The rubber sole of your shoe is perfectly safe from any oil stains and so you can take your toothbrush and dip it into some of whichever oil is most accessible to you, whether it’s olive oil, vegetable oil, or even baby oil.

Scrub the area thoroughly so that the oil properly sinks into the areas where the tar is still clinging to the rubber.

Let the oil soak into the stain for a few minutes before you wipe it off with a damp cloth and then rinse the shoe again with cold water.

If you don’t have any oil available, this method can also be attempted with Vaseline or petroleum jelly instead.

An extra tip: If the tar has been on your shoes for a little longer and it’s not possible to scrape any of it away with your plastic knife, try soaking the tar in oil overnight before tackling it with a knife and using the rest of the steps on this list.


4. Optionally Apply WD-40

remove tar on shoes with wd-40

As a last resort, if you’re still seeing no results from the previous steps, you can give WD-40 a try. This product is easily available and affordable and can be relied on for a number of different types of stains on various surfaces.

Dip your handy toothbrush into some of the WD-40 and then scrub all over the area where the tar is still clinging to your shoe.

Repeat the rinsing in cold water process and hopefully, the lingering bits of tar will be washed away!


What to Do If None of the Methods Work

There are a few other options you can try if there is still tar on your shoes after following the other steps on this list. These include rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, turpentine, and even vinegar.

However, by the time you’ve tried everything on the list, you might be reaching breaking point. If the tar is still as stubborn as it was in the beginning, then you may be better off investing in a new pair of shoes.