5 Easy Steps to Get Tar out of Your Clothes

There is a lot of ways you can get tar in your clothes. You can be a construction worker and handle this chemical on a daily or maybe you are a bystander, walking in a nearby construction area, and the next thing you know you have the nasty black tar in your clothes. But, whatever reason you might have for tagging a tar stain, we are here to help you remove it.

Below are the steps on how to get tar out of your clothes.

What is Tar?

remove tar from clothes

Tar is a black and viscous material used to stick asphalt products together. You can commonly see it utilized to make the pavement of a highway or base for constructions of infrastructures such as roofs and tiles.

Tar is a particularly hard stain to remove as it’s oil-based and will harden against the fabric of your clothes. But, you don’t have to worry!

In this guide, we will teach you how to get tar out of clothes. We will tell you all about the different methods, ingredients, and processes.

Step 1: Remove as Much Tar as Possible

Before putting on any treatment to the fabric, be sure to remove any excess tar.

Use Ice

getting tar out of clothes

Wet tar residue might cause further spreading and damage to your clothes, so be sure to let it dry out first before picking it out.

If the residue sticking on your clothes is not yet dry, you can use the ice method. By applying ice to the residue, you can harden it and make it easier to remove. To do this process, you need two things: ice cubes and a dull knife.

Just place the ice on top of the tar and let it sit there for a few minutes. With the help of the dull knife, you can poke it to see if it’s hardened completely. Once it’s hard, you can gently scrape it off until the stain on the fabric is the only residue left.

Use Paper Towel

If the tar is already dry, you can pick it out with your hand with the protection of a paper towel. To see this process, you can watch this video.

Use a Scraping Tool

If you don’t want to risk touching a not completely dried-out tar, you can use a scraping tool such as a dull knife, nail pushers, or any material that can remove the excess dried tar.

Step 2. Pre-treat the Stain

removing tar from clothing

With pre-treating, you can make the washing of the stain easier. You can do a couple of treatment methods when it comes to tar stain.

Pre-treat with Oil

Before putting on any stain treatment, you can put on any oil-based product for easier removal. You might be wondering, tar is an oil-based product so why would you add more oil?

The answer to this is when the tar is dried out, it’s going to be hard and solid so with this pre-treatment, the substance will lift off with more ease due to the grease produced by the oil.

You can use different products such as:

  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Vegetable or any Cooking Oil
  • Lard
  • Oil from Pork or Chicken Fat

Pre-treat with Stain Remover

You can do this alongside the oil-based method. If you are going to use a stain remover, be sure to test out if it’s color-safe first. Most stain remover products have bleach in them and can damage your clothes.

how to get tar off clothing

Pre-treat with Gasoline

Gasoline can help lift off the excess tar. Just be careful to use this method since it’s highly flammable and not good against your skin. Using gloves when handling gasoline is a must.

To do this method, pour a small amount of gasoline into a small container. Get a q-tip and dip it into the gasoline and then rub it against the stain.

Since gasoline is a chemical with a strong smell, washing your clothes with detergent or any fragrant soap is a must.

Pre-treat with Orange Cleaner

If you want a more pleasant smelling product than gasoline, orange cleaner or pure citrus air freshener can be a great alternative. The orange cleaner can be a cleaning agent against tar, so you can use it as a pre-treatment for easier removal.


WD40 is a chemical designed to be a degreaser and rust remover. You can spray on some WD40 before washing your clothes.  This product is excellent and larger damaged areas.

Step 3. Wash the Stain

get tar out of clothes

When it comes to treating tar stains, you have a good amount of choices. It’s better to know all of the options that will suit your need the best.

Before treating your clothes, you should remember a few things, such as what type of fabric is stained and how large the damaged area is.

Without further ado, these are the products you can use to remove tar stain:

Dishwashing Liquid

how do you get tar out of clothes

Dishwashing liquids such as Dawn are formulated to remove dirt and grime from your kitchen wear. One of its features is dissolving grease and oil from food. Fortunately, you can also use this degreasing component against tar stains.

Just pour a few drops of dishwashing liquid directly into your clothes and either work it in with a toothbrush or by hand. Then, let it soak for a few minutes and rinse.

Liquid Detergent

how to get tar stain out of clothes

Laundry detergent is excellent for cleaning clothes as it’s their primary function. You can also use them against tar stains. Just use it like the dishwashing liquid method.

Baking Soda

tar stain removal

Baking soda is an abrasive cleaner. It’s best to use this along with the dishwashing liquid and detergent. Just grab an amount that will completely cover the stain and work it into the fabric with a toothbrush. Then, you can use any detergent or dish soap you prefer.

After pre-treating the clothes with the methods above, you can soak them into a warm bucket of water and half a cup of baking soda.

You can use all of these methods together or choose one that’s best for your clothes.

Repeat the process above if the stain still remains.

Hydrogen Peroxide

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Hydrogen Peroxide, like baking soda, is a great partner with laundry detergent and dishwashing soap to make the removal process of the stain easier. To use this method, just soak your garment on a mixture of half cup hydrogen peroxide and a bucket of hot water. You can leave it in the solution overnight before cleaning the stain off with detergent or dish soap.

Step 4. Soak with Hot Water

tar out of clothes

After removing the tar stain, you can soak your clothes in hot water.

If you have a washing machine, running it to the highest temperature possible is an alternative. Just check the tag to make sure that your clothes are safe with washing with hot water.

The hot temperature will help remove any remaining tar residue in the microfibers of your clothes.

Step 5. Air Dry the Clothes

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Be sure to NOT put your stained clothes into the dryer. If you run your clothes in the dryer and didn’t completely remove the stain, it will be in your clothes permanently. The permanence is due to the friction inside the dryer, it will let the tar seep deep into the fabric.

Instead, opt for air dry. Letting the heat of the sundry out your clothes is the best method. With this, you can still remove the tar stain once it’s not been lifted off completely. [How Long Does It Take To Air-Dry Your Clothes]

If you want to use a dryer for convenience, make sure to check if all of the tar stains are gone.

And that’s it! You can now remove the tar out of your clothes with these four easy steps. But this article is far from over. Here are some general tips for stain removal.

Get the Tar out ASAP

The sooner you get the tar out of your clothes, the better chance of removing the stain, especially if you have a very absorbent fabric. Clothes made with cotton or wool can suck up the residue than clothes made with denim. If you can, be sure to repair the damage as soon as possible.

Know Your Fabric

Removing tar can cause a lot of rubbing, friction, and chemicals. If your stained clothes are delicate, such as natural fabrics like wool or silk, it’s best to bring the damaged clothing to a professional.

If your stained clothes are manufactured with hard synthetic material such as denim or linen, they can take a lot of brushing and chemicals than other fabrics.

Be Patient

With removing hard stains such as tar, you might need to repeat a few processes along the way. By keeping your patience and peace of mind during the process, you can ensure that you will do the methods correctly and make your clothes good as new.


If your clothes can’t handle powerful chemicals, it’s best to go for a much weaker alternative. For example, using petroleum jelly or cooking oil is a much safer way than gasoline. Although, if harsh chemicals are all you’ve got, be sure to check the tags of your clothes to ensure no damage will be done.

In conclusion

With these steps on how to remove tar from your clothes, we hope you completely washed off the nasty stain and can wear your clothes freely again.

If you have more questions about fashion and handling of clothes, be sure to comment them down below.


how to remove tar from clothes

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