How to remove tar

Updated February 21, 2017

Tar is a powerful sealing resin and is convenient for a variety of applications from roofing to road construction. Its highly gluey nature, however, can make tar stains a headache. Don't fret if tar accidentally drips, splatters, or gets tracked on a surface it shouldn't be on, as there are several methods for removing tar. The method you use will depend on the surface or material.

Wash the tar splattered areas with a rag and warm, soapy water. Mild dish soap is fine.

Apply a thick layer of creamy peanut butter over the tar splats. Allow the peanut butter to soften the tar for 24 hours.

Wipe away the peanut butter and softened tar.

Saturate any remaining tar spots with silicone lubricant. Allow the lubricant to saturate the tar for five minutes.

Wipe away the lubricant and remaining tar.

Buff the area with car wax to restore any of the car's protective coating that may have been compromised in the cleaning process.

Saturate the tar stain with tar and grease remover. Tar and grease remover comes in either spray can or squeeze bottle form. Be sure to get the kind that is designed for brick or concrete. It might also be called oil stain remover or concrete stain remover.

Let the tar and grease remover sit on the stain for the time indicated in the directions. After the remover has had time to start to break up the tar, scrub it with a plastic bristle scrub brush. Add more remover if necessary.

Rinse the area with fresh water.

Scrape up as much excess tar as possible with an old spoon or a similar, dull scraping device.

Blot the stain with dry cleaning fluid using a sponge until the tar is liquefied.

Create a solution of 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon each of white vinegar and grease-cutting dish detergent.

Blot and saturate the stain with the solution.

Blot the area with cold water until the stain is lifted.

Scrape up as much excess tar as possible with an old spoon or a similar, dull scraping device.

Blot the stain with dry cleaning fluid until the tar is lifted with a sponge.

Wash the clothing in hot water, if possible. Wash the clothing in the washing machine if the item is machine washable. Otherwise, the clothing can be washed in the sink.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish detergent
  • Rags
  • Peanut butter
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Car wax
  • Grease and tar remover
  • Plastic bristle scrub brush
  • Spoon
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Dish detergent
  • Spoon
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Sponge
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.