How to Get Tar Off Shoes (Easy and Fast Ways)

What could be worse than getting some sticky and stubborn tar on your favorite pair of shoes?

Constant cleaning keeps shoes looking fresh and new but even the most cared for pairs can be rendered useless if you step in a bit of tar. That is unless you know how to remove tar from shoes.

Depending upon the material of your shoe, it can take several different ways to use a variety of materials to get the job done.

This is why I have created this comprehensive guide on how to get tar off shoes no matter what the material.

How to Remove Tar from Rubber Shoes


  • Old/disposable knife
  • Dish detergent
  • Old toothbrush
  • Paper towel/ wet cloth

Step 1: Scrape Excess Tar Off

Try using an old knife or spoon or even a disposable one. Gently scrape off as much tar as you can, using the sharp edges. Whilst scraping, be careful about the rubber of your shoe. Do not unintentionally scrape the upper part of the shoe.

Step 2: Scrub Remaining Tar

If you still see some tar remaining then rinse it with a dish detergent and gently scrub off the remaining tar with an old toothbrush dipped in warm water.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Finally, rinse the sole thoroughly with tap water and dry using a clean absorbent rag.

Note: Keep in mind you might have to repeat the process a few times before you completely remove tar from the shoes.

How to Remove Tar from Leather Shoes


  • Old/disposable knife
  • Paper towels/wet cloth
  • Automobile tar remover
  • Leather conditioner


  • Gently scrape off the dried tar, as much as possible using a knife. Be careful not to scratch the leather.
  • Dip a piece of clean cloth in a tar remover and gently rub the affected area to remove the tar. Look out for any signs of discoloration or damage to the shoes.
  • When all tar is removed, use some leather conditioner to bring your shoes back to life and preserve their original color and texture.

How to Remove Tar from Suede Shoes


  • Plastic knife
  • Suede brush
  • Leather cleaner
  • Cloth/paper towel


  • Scrape off any large clumps of tar using a plastic knife.
  • Use a suede brush to remove any tar residue.
  • Apply small amounts of leather cleaner and gently scrub on the affected area to remove any stains.
  • Wipe off any remaining stains and cleaner using a wet cloth and let your shoes dry properly, away from direct sunlight, in a cool place with good ventilation.

How to Remove Tar from Canvas Shoes


  • Plastic knife
  • Lubricant, such as baby oil
  • Paper towel
  • Cotton ball
  • Dish detergent
  • Warm water
  • Empty spray bottle


  • Begin by scraping off large clumps of the black tar from the shoes using a plastic knife.
  • Use a gentle lubricant, like baby oil and dab the stains. Wipe off with a clean paper towel.
  • Spray the stained area with a mix of dish detergent and water and let it stay for a few minutes. Finally, wipe again with a clean towel and air dry.

Note: When cleaning canvas shoes, it is advisable not to use a brush since it could damage the canvas layer of the shoes.

How to Remove Beach Tar from Shoes

Beach tar is comparatively easier to remove than other types of tar.


  • Plastic bag
  • Plastic knife
  • Vegetable oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Dish detergent


  • Put your shoes in a plastic bag and in the freezer for 12 hours.
  • Once frozen, you can easily peel the frozen layer of tar from the shoes.
  • In case of any unwanted stains, rub the area with some vegetable oil.
  • Use a toothbrush to scrub off the more stubborn stains.
  • Lastly, use some detergent mixed in water to wipe the shoes clean.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What can dissolve tar?

The best product to use would be a tar remover or tar solvent available in the market. If you cannot get one, then mix some vinegar, water, and dish detergent. The high levels of acidity in Vinegar cuts through the greasy tar.

2. Does WD-40 remove tar from clothes?

WD-40 is a very good solvent for tar and can remove tar from almost all surfaces and mediums. It removes almost all petroleum-based products. Simply spray WD-40, let it stay for a few minutes and rinse your clothes.

3. How do you get the sticky stuff off the bottom of your shoes?

To get rid of any sticky residue from your shoes, use a cloth dampened in ammonia and rub on the sticky residue. Use can also use a solution of water and white baking soda, mixed in equal parts, and apply it. Let it stay for a few minutes and then wipe or rinse the shoes.

4. How to remove tar from the skin?

If tar gets on your skin, immediately wash under cold water. I would advise you to seek medical help and expert guidance. Rub ice on the skin affected with tar. Let it harden and then gently peel it off. Use some skin oils or lotions to lessen any marks. Apply some anti- bacterial to lower any infection risks.

5. How to get tar out of clothes?

Harden the black tar by putting your clothes in the freezer. Remove as much tar as you can using a scraper. Apply some tar solvent or lubricators such as baby oil or WD-40. Clean the stains using a damp rag. Wash the clothes with some softeners or color enhancers to keep their integrity.


I hope my extensive guide can help you with almost all kinds of sticky situations involving tar and shoes. To be more cautious, I would advise you to buy proper tar removers.

They are mostly available in the car section of the department store. These can prevent discoloration and keep your shoes looking good as new.

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