How To Remove Tar Stain From Washable Fabrics

January 29, 2023

Tar stains can be incredibly frustrating to remove, especially when it comes to washable fabrics. But don't let those unsightly marks ruin your clothes or upholstery. With our easy-to-follow guide, you'll learn how to remove tar stains from washable fabrics quickly and effectively. Whether you're dealing with a stubborn stain on your clothes or a spot on your couch, our step-by-step instructions will show you how to tackle the problem with ease. Read on to find out.




These stains appear as discoloration of the fabric that is usually black or dark brown in color. They can be dry or slightly damp to the touch and may have a slightly oily or smoky smell. These stains are often caused by contact with tar or other types of asphalt-based substances.


Hot (120° to 140°F)


Hot water helps to dissolve the tar and make it easier to remove.

The Science Behind Tar Stains

Tar is a hydrocarbon that is typically derived from fossil fuels. When tar comes into contact with fabric, it can stick to the fibers due to its adhesive properties. The tar molecules are able to penetrate the fibers of the fabric, which causes the stain to become difficult to remove. The color of the tar can also transfer to the fabric, causing discoloration.

What You'll Need To Get Rid Of Tar Stains

  • Lighter fluid or mineral spirits
  • Dish soap
  • Stain remover (such as Shout or Spray 'n Wash)
  • Laundry detergent

Step By Step Process To Remove Tar Stains

  1. Blot any excess tar from the fabric using a clean, white cloth.
  2. Apply a small amount of lighter fluid or mineral spirits to a clean, white cloth and gently rub the stain, being careful not to spread it.
  3. Apply a small amount of dish soap to a clean, damp cloth and gently rub the stain.
  4. Apply a stain remover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, following the product's instructions.
  5. Launder the garment in the hottest water recommended on the care label, using laundry detergent.
Note: Before trying any cleaning method, please test on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to check for colorfastness or damage. Be sure to read and follow all product labels and instructions before use. Avoid using heat (such as ironing) on the stain, as it can set the stain and make it harder to remove. If the stain persists after following these steps, consult a professional cleaner.

In Brief

Tar is a hydrocarbon that sticks to fabric fibers and can discolor them. To remove tar stains from washable fabrics, you can use lighter fluid or mineral spirits, dish soap, stain remover and laundry detergent. It is important to follow the instructions and test on a small area before using any cleaning method and avoid using heat on the stain. If the stain persists, consult a professional cleaner.

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