How to Remove Tar from Shoes in Five Simple Steps!

If there is one abused part of our clothing, it would be our shoes! That’s because it comes in contact with the ground and as much as we try to avoid it, tar always finds its way to our shoes, making them look dirty and old.

Tar can be found in coal, wood, and roads and once this ingredient gets stuck in our shoes, it can be a bit difficult to remove. But the good news is, it is not impossible, and in this article, I will teach you how to remove tar from shoes. So if you are ready, let’s get started!

What You Will Need

Here are some of the things you will need for this process:

  • Plastic Knife
  • Old toothbrush
  • Warm water
  • Mineral Oil
  • A piece of clean Cloth
  • Olive Oil
  • Dish Detergent
  • Paint Thinner
  • WD-40
  • Fan
  • Newspaper
  • Dryer
  • Detergent soap

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Remove Tar from Shoes

Follow these simple steps and restore the look of your shoes!


Scrape the tar using the plastic knife as soon as possible.

It is a must that you remove the tar right away once it gets into your footwear. Delaying this step may cause greater damage to your shoes. When left untreated for long, tar will be a lot harder to remove.

Using a plastic knife, scrape off the tar from under your shoes but please do so gently to avoid scratching or damaging the sole of your shoes. If you have already removed a large amount of the tar, but there is still a small amount that remains, you can scrub it off using an old toothbrush that has been dipped in warm water

Pro Tip: Do not wash your shoes with water when it is covered in tar (many people tend to do this). Doing so can cause the tar to harden, making it harder to remove.


Soften the tar

I placed this tip in here because you need to know this before you push through with the process. Whatever softener or any other substance you plan to use in removing the tar, make sure to apply a small amount of it first on a small, hidden portion of the shoe to ensure that the solution won’t damage the finish and color of your shoes.

No matter how hard you scrub or scrape it off, there will still be remaining tar (those that have already hardened), and the best thing that you can do is to use softeners on it. Here are some of the best softeners that you can use:

• Mineral Oil


Just simply soak the affected part of the shoes with mineral oil for an hour. Afterward, remove the oil using a piece of cloth.

• Dishwashing Detergent

Mix this with equal parts of warm water. Dip an old toothbrush into it and use it to scrub the remaining tar.

Pro Tip: Scrub the sole in circular motions to ensure that you can get rid of the tar in the sole’s groove.

• Olive Oil

This softener is recommended if you plan on removing the splatters of tar in the canvas area of your shoe. Let the affected part soak in olive oil for an hour then remove the oil using cloth.


If there is still tar remaining, use solvent.

There will be times when, no matter how hard you have tried, a small amount of tar will remain. If this is the case, your next best step is to use a solvent. Here are two of the best solvents that you can use:

• Paint Thinner

Apply a small amount of the thinner to a piece of cloth then use the cloth to gently rub the affected area.

• WD-40


This solvent can help loosen up the gooey tar that got stuck in the shoe. For best results, soak the stained area in a small amount of WD-40 for a few minutes. Using a brush, scrub off the tar. Wipe any remaining solvent using cloth.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that these solvents are flammable and toxic, so you need to take extra precautions when handling them. It is best that you wear gloves and keep the windows open (for proper ventilation) when using them.


Thoroughly wash your shoe

Once the tar has been completely removed, you can wash your shoes with soap and water to completely get rid of any remaining softener and solvent.


Dry the shoe

There are plenty of ways on how you can dry shoes faster—using a dryer, fan or newspaper. Just choose the method that would work best for you.

To know how you can dry your shoe in the dryer, please watch this video:


Many people think that removing tar from shoes is impossible, but it can be done! In fact, you can do it using items that you can already find at home! To recap, here are the simple steps on how to remove tar from shoes:

• Scrape.

• Use softener.

• Use solvent.

• Wash.

• Dry.

Sara Smith

My name is Sara Smith, the proud owner of the blog and the writer of all the articles that you can see on this website. It is my goal to share my knowledge to all of you and to provide valuable learnings in one way or another.

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