How To Remove Tar From Shoes

If you walk anywhere near a building site that has recently used tar, then there is a risk that you will get this material on your shoes. But this risk is greatly increased if you are a builder who works with tar regularly. 

While working boots are designed to be used on building sites, they are still fairly expensive, so it is likely that you will want to remove any tar from your boots as soon as possible. But is this possible? After all, tar is a pretty tough substance. 

Well, you will be glad to hear that you can remove tar from shoes. But, how do you do this? Check out this handy guide to find out all you need to know about removing tar from your shoes. Including what you need to do this, how to remove tar from your shoes, and tips and tricks to make it easier. So, to find out more, keep on reading.  

Can You Remove Tar From Shoes?

As we have said, yes, it is possible to remove tar from your shoes. That is why it is very important that you do not panic when you first notice tar on your shoes. However, just because it is possible to remove tar from your shoes doesn’t mean that this is an easy task. In fact, removing tar from your shoes can actually be pretty difficult. Ultimately, this depends on the amount of tar that has become adhered to your shoes. 

But, as long as you have patience and time to do the job, then removing tar from your shoes will always be doable. There are a couple of methods that you can use to remove tar from your shoes, but it is generally accepted that these methods are most effective if you act quickly. So, if you find tar on your shoes, do not waste your time panicking. Instead, keep on reading this guide to find the most effective method for removing tar from your shoes. 

What You Need

As with any task, to effectively remove tar from your shoes, you will need a number of tools on your side. So, if you want to remove tar from your shoes, you should collect the following items: 

  • Disposable Plastic Knife – such as the ones that you will take to picnics or camping trips. 
  • Dish Detergent – any brand will do the job, so you can simply use the dish detergent that you already have at home. 
  • Toothbrush – if you have an old toothbrush at home, then this will do the job perfectly. 
  • WD-40 – any water-based lubricant will be able to do the job, but in our experience WD-40 is the most effective. 

How To Remove Tar From Shoes

Once you have gathered all the tools that we have listed above, you are ready to begin removing tar from your shoes. As we have said, this isn’t the easiest of tasks, but this isn’t because it is a hard job. Instead, it is difficult because it is a rather tedious job, and it is likely that you will get bored when you are doing it. So, let’s take a look at how to remove tar from your shoes. 

Step 1 – Scrape The Tar

First things first, you should take your plastic disposable knife and use it to remove as much of the tar off your shoes as possible. Tar is a gooey substance, so you might find that it takes quite a few scrapes to be able to effectively remove the tar. Especially if you have managed to get a lot of it onto your shoes.

When using your plastic knife, it is best to use a scraping motion to remove the tar. This is important as scraping will be less likely to damage your shoes than a stabbing motion. So, when you are scraping the tar off your shoes, it is best to take your time, and remove small amounts at a time. This will reduce the risk of your shoes being damaged in the process. 

Step 2 – Prepare Your Detergent 

Next, you should prepare your dish washing detergent. Dish detergent is incredibly effective at removing all sorts of stains from things. So, you should dilute your regular dish detergent in warm water. Use the same amount of detergent that you would when doing the washing up for your home. 

Step 3 – Scrub Your Shoes

Then, you should take your old toothbrush and soak the brush part in the dish detergent mixture. With the brush saturated in this detergent-water mixture, you should then begin scrubbing at the soles of your shoes. It can be tempting to use force to do this, but you shouldn’t as this will not do the job effectively. Instead, you will need to be patient. 

So, instead of scrubbing harshly once, you should scrub at the shoes several times using gentle force every time. This should remove the majority of the tar, but if you have any stubborn stains move onto the next step. 

Step 4 – Use The WD-40

For any stubborn stains, you should spray WD-40 to the sole of your shoe. Leave the WD-40 to stand for a couple of minutes (this will lubricate the stain), then scrub at it with your toothbrush and detergent mixture. This should remove any leftover stains. 

Once you have done this, and all the stains are removed, you should rinse the soles of your shoes to ensure that there is no WD-40 left on them. 

Tips And Tricks 

Here are some other tips and tricks that will make this task easier:

  • The thicker the stain, the longer it will take to remove. So prepare to be patient if your shoes have been covered. 
  • Sometimes it can be easier to remove stains once they have set. If you would rather try this, you can place your shoes in the freezer overnight to make the stains set quicker. 
  • If this at-home remedy fails, you can get cleaners that are specifically designed for removing tar. So, it might be worth giving this a try. 


In short, removing tar from your shoes is a difficult task because it is incredibly boring and tedious. But, it isn’t as hard as you might expect. All you need is an old toothbrush, a plastic knife, WD-40, dish detergent and warm water.

Once you have gathered these tools, check out the guide above to find out how to remove tar from your boots.