How to Get Tar Off Shoes

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Are you searching for simple ways on how to save your tarred shoes? Well, you come to the right place. In this article, I’ll be teaching you how to get tar off shoes easily.

Most of the time, you get tar on your shoes from coal, wood, or if you’re walking on newly repaired roads. Once the tar sticks to your shoes, it’s quite difficult to remove, but it’s not impossible. If you want to know how to salvage your tarred shoes, keep reading below.

Step 1-Scrape The Tar Away

The first step on how to remove tar off shoes is trying to scrape the goo away as much as you can. You can use a blunt knife, a plastic knife, or a putty knife for this process. When scraping, make sure that you don’t gouge the sole of your shoe or damage any of its spikes.

Watch how to scrape your tarred shoe with a knife and check some other solutions in this video here.

This step is usually effective if the tar is just thin and little. However, most of the time, the tar will still remain. In this case, you have to choose any of the treatments suggested in step 2.

Step 2-Apply Some Softeners

For the remaining tar, you can smother it with any of the softeners listed below. Make sure that you allow the softener to work on the stain for about an hour or so. If these solutions still fail, you can lubricate the stubborn tar with any with any of the solvents listed in step 3.

Dish Detergent


With warm water, mix it with your dish detergent to make a nice solution. Next, dunk your old toothbrush in the mixture and scrub the tar away gently.

When you scrub, do it in circular motions and make sure to get down in the sole’s grooves thoroughly. Continue doing this until the tar is fully removed.

Mineral Oil

Yes, a cheap bottle of mineral oil can also soften the stubborn tar from your shoes. To apply, just soak the tarred part with mineral oil and allow it to set for about an hour or so. After one hour has elapsed, you can try to remove the tar with a piece of cloth or a brush.

Olive Oil


If the tar has splattered on the canvas of your shoe, you can soften it with the use of olive oil. To use, just cover the affected part with olive oil and let it set for about an hour. If the tar disappears, then you’re done but if not, follow it through with a solvent.

Other Softeners That You Can Try: petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, suntan lotion, and lard.

Step 3- Use Solvents

More often than not, the stain of the tar still remains even if how hard you scrub the tar away with a softener. This is where solvents can come and save the day. Since they’re flammable, be careful when handling them.


As suggested by this website, you need to lubricate the stained area with WD-40 to make your shoes look good as new. To apply, just spray a small amount on the stained area and let it sit for a couple of minutes to loosen the gooey substance.With a clothes brush or an old toothbrush, scrub the remaining tar. Wipe any dripping solvent with cotton wipes after scrubbing.

Paint Thinner

Another solvent that you can use to remove tar from your shoes is a paint thinner. To apply, just wet a piece of cloth with the solvent and rub it gently on the stained area of your shoe. A word of caution- when using it, make sure that you open a window to ventilate the fumes properly and wear gloves because they can be quite toxic.

Step 4-Wash Your Shoe


Now, that you have removed the tar from your shoe completely with a softener and solvent, wash it properly with soap and water. This particular step will remove any residue of solvent and softener. Next, dry it outside to remove all moisture.

Final Thought

Learning how to get tar off shoes is really easy. Who would have thought that you can use some simple household items to remove the stubborn gunk away? Here are the simple steps.

  • First, scrape the tar away as much as you can with a blunt knife, plastic knife, or putty knife.
  • Use a softener to loosen the tar from your shoe, such as dish detergent, mineral oil, or olive oil.
  • If the stain still remains, apply some solvents, like a paint thinner or WD-40.

Lastly, wash your shoe with soap and water to remove any residue.