How to Remove Tar from Shoes?: Save Your Shoes and Your Time with These Tricks


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There are different kinds of tar that can get stuck in your shoes, such as beach tar, turpentine tar, pine tar, black tar, etc. Removing any of these types of tar from your shoes can be a challenge, to say the least, especially if your shoes have deep imprints or creases where the tar could be stuck. But, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is possible. And we are here to help you solve this problem quickly and easily. Continue reading to find out how you can remove tar from your shoes in no time.

What Is Tar?

If your shoes have been a victim of tar stains, you most probably are familiar with tar; it is a black, oily, and really sticky substance that stains whatever it comes in contact with. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines tar as “a dark brown or black bituminous usually odorous viscous liquid obtained by destructive distillation of organic material (such as wood, coal, or peat).”

How to Get Tar Off Shoes?

Even though getting tar off shoes can be a pretty time-consuming and challenging process, those very noticeable black tar stains can (almost always) be removed if you are patient, persistent, and resourceful. But, if you really love your shoes and want them to look stain-free and as good as new, we have some quick and easy hacks to help you achieve that. You will need a plastic knife, a clean cloth, an old toothbrush, water, detergent or softener, alcohol, and tar-removal chemicals.

Use a plastic knife

A disposable plastic knife is helpful in the first stage of removing large pieces of chunks from the grooves of the sole without staining the shoes even more.

Take your shoes and scrape off the hard tar from the bottom as much as possible. But, be careful not to scrape too harshly because you can damage the shoes. You might not be able to remove all the tar from the shoes; if that is the case, leave it for later and move on with other steps.

Use a clean cloth

For the remaining stains in the corners of your shoes, you will need to use a clean cloth and a kind of solvent such as fuel (petrol), lamp oil, turpentine oil, WD-40, or rubbing alcohol.

Take the clean piece of cloth, dip it in one of those solvents, and rub it over the stain in circular motions until it vanishes.

Brush away the tar with an old toothbrush

Now take an old toothbrush and brush the areas with tar; it should come off quickly after being softened by the use of one of the solvents. But, in case the tar did not come off completely, there are other steps that you can follow.

Apply water, detergent, or softener

Next, take that old toothbrush and dip it in a mixture of a good quality dishwashing liquid, preferably with degreasing properties or softener (olive oil, lard, mineral oil, vegetable oil, petroleum jelly, etc.) and warm water. Then, start scrubbing gently over the stained areas. You might need to repeat this step several times until the tar loosens up and is finally gone. The disposable plastic knife may be helpful here, too, especially for getting rid of hard and stubborn tar.

Freeze the tar

Freezing the tar is another method that can save the day (and the shoes). This method is great for easily getting rid of beach tar using only a few things. So, start by placing your shoes in a plastic bag and then in the freezer; leave them there overnight or for six to eight hours, or until the tar is frozen. This will make the sand or beach tar brittle; as a result, it will be easier to remove it.

Scrape off the tar

After the tar is frozen, take the disposable plastic knife or a hard bristled brush and start scraping or peeling it off carefully. Try to scrape off as much tar as you can, but if there is still some tar left on your shoes, continue with these other steps:

Rub some alcohol into it

Apply only a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, clean cloth, or paper towel, and dab the tar stains. You might need to repeat this step until the stain vanishes.

Use tar-removal chemicals

You can also use strong chemicals to remove tar from your shoes without much effort. We know the word chemicals can sound harsh and scary, but if you use them correctly, they will not damage your soles. Here is how to do it; tape the shoes’ sides and use a WD-40 on the tarred areas. It will remove all the tar, stains, and dirt from your shoes in a quick and easy way. After that, make sure you clean the area using a wet cloth or Armor All Wipes, and your shoes will look good as new.

How to Get Tar Off Canvas Shoes?


For canvas shoes, mix dish detergent with warm water, spray it on your shoes, and leave it for two to three minutes. After that, go in with a towel (do not use any kind of brush, they may damage the material).

As soon as you are done cleaning them, throw the shoes in with the laundry to get rid of any stains or dirt left behind.

How to Get Tar Off Suede Shoes?


You can effectively get tar off your suede shoes by taking a plastic knife and scraping off the tar clumps. After doing that, take a suede brush to brush off the remaining tar off your shoes.

If there is still tar left on your shoes, clean the area using a leather cleaner. And finally, take a cloth or tissue paper to wipe off your shoes, and let them dry.

Remember, suede shoes are delicate, so go gentle with them when cleaning them.

How to Get Tar Off Leather Shoes?


Take a plastic scraper and scrape off the tar from your leather shoes. Be careful not to scrape too hard because leather is a very delicate material, and you can end up scratching it or even scraping it out. Try not to get everything off immediately as you can damage the leather. Instead, take a paper towel and rub off the thin layer of tar or dirt left behind. Next, take the Armor All Wipes to wipe out any residue left. And finally, caste a layer of boot shining cream to restore the moisture and shine of the leather.

We all know that removing tar from your canvas, suede, or leather shoes can be an arduous task, but the good news is that it can be done. So, if you have stepped in tar, follow the steps that we mentioned above, and you will most likely be able to save your beloved shoes.


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