Tar is a dark black, thick and sticky substance commonly used in roofing and road construction, and it can be complicated to remove. Removing tar from your shoes can be a very frustrating experience and can often cause damage to your footwear.
Regardless of how it happened upon your shoe, there are effective methods of taking it off safely, but it will involve some patience. Rolling up your sleeves and learning the proper steps involved is essential. It's not just the tar that you have to remove, but depending on the material of your shoes, the stain which is left after removal.
Tar can be removed from just about anything but you will need the proper tools, some spare time and knowing the rights steps to take in the proper order cannot be understated.
So here are the things you will need to get tar off shoes:
- A plastic scraper - This could be a disposable knife or some adhesive spreader. This is used to remove the large bits from your shoes and the patterns in your soles.
- A softening agent - Commonly found softeners in homes are vegetable or olive oil, lard, margarine or mineral oil. This is used to soften the tar avoiding damage to your shoe. Do not use these on a cloth portion of your shoe as it can leave an oil stain.
- Solvents or a tar specific cleaner - Solvents found around the home include WD-40, gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner or turpentine and are used to remove the stain left on your sole after removing the tar, You can also find a specific tar cleaner for shoes at your local shoes store and use that instead.
- A toothbrush - A toothbrush is a perfect tool for helping gently brush away the stain from the shoe.
- Soap and water - Dishwashing detergent is perfectly adequate as well; you'll use this at the end of the process to get rid of the solvents off your shoe.
Get that tar off:
1. The first thing you'll want to do is to start scraping that tar from your shoe using the plastic spreader or disposable knife.
Pay attention not to scrape your sole when taking the tar off as it can leave permanent scratches or other damage.
Gently scrape off what you can, not getting too close to the sole at first, once you get the large portion off, gently work your way through what's left over.
If there is still some tar left over, follow the next step. If not, you're done!
2. There will usually be a bit of a stain left over, and here is where the softeners are put to good use. You'll want to take about a teaspoon of one of the softeners mentioned above such as olive oil, and dab it into the tarred area.
Allow this to soak in for about an hour to soften the remaining tar and then wipe it off.
If you still have a stain after this step, go on to the next one.
3. This is where the solvents come into play, but you'll want to be careful as they can potentially cause damage or discoloration to your shoe, this is why it's a good idea to use a product specifically made for this purpose. If you choose to use a solvent it's a good idea to test the solvent you're using on a small portion of your shoe before getting to the severe stain removal, to make sure it doesn't do any damage.
You'll want to use a clean rag which will not transfer any color, soak a small portion of it in the solvent and rub in small circles around the stain. Make sure to use new clean portions of the cloth, so you're not rubbing the tar from the cloth into the shoe. Repeat the process with a toothbrush if it doesn't come off with the cloth.
4. Once the stain is gone, wash the solvent thoroughly off your shoe using soap and warm water.
Removing tar from your shoe isn't the easiest process, but with a bit of patience and elbow grease, it shouldn't be a problem.