Removing Tar Stains on Carpet

Road Paving Blacktop.

Cleaning Tar From Carpets.

Removing Tar From Carpet

Whoever dragged tar into the house and onto the carpet – don’t hurt them. It was, in all probability, an accident. When it’s hot, tar melts and sticks easily to shoes.

When somebody’s putting on a new roof, tar falls off and ends up on the bottom of shoes. Tar can be used when a road is being resurfaced or patched. But what a mess it makes and new carpets are expensive.

If you can get to the stain while it’s fresh, maybe there’s hope for your carpet.

How to Remove the Tar Stain

  • First of all see what you can blot up with a paper towel. Don’t rub, rubbing will just spread the tar around more of the carpet.
  • After blotting up as much as you can and if necessary; get a kitchen knife or putty knife and gently scrape up what may be remaining.
  • Use a shop vac to vacuum any remaining particles.
  • Apply stain removal method. Depending on the stain, start with a small amount. Test in inconspicuous area prior to cleaning.
  • Start blotting from the outside of stain in towards the middle to keep the tar stain from spreading.
  • Change blotting material to a clean section as needed.
  • Repeat the cleaning process as needed.
  • Rinse with plain water after using a cleaning method.

There are many carpet types such as: Berber, nylon, plush, polyester, wool, Olefin, etc. Check the manufacturers label for your carpet type and how to best clean it. If there is no label, check with a carpet manufacturer or call a professional carpet cleaner.

Soften Hardened Tar

If the tar stain has hardened, you will need to soften it before using a cleaning method. For this you can try mixing water with glycerin. Glycerin is a solvent which can make it good for cleaning and some stain removal.

  • If any of the tips below stain your light colored carpets a yellowish tinge, pour on some hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for an hour.
  • Blot and repeat if necessary. No need to clean it off the carpet.
  • Remember with hydrogen peroxide it will turn to water when exposed to light, so cover with a clean dark towel.

Cleaning Products

Below are some cleaning methods you can try for removing tar stains from carpet.

Liquid Dish Soap and Water

Using a liquid dish soap that does not contain bleach or lanolin mixed with warm water can help to remove tar stains from carpet. Mix together 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap like Dawn and 1/2 cup warm water.

Tar Removers

Tar removers can be purchased from home stores, amazon and auto supply stores. Make sure to test a small area in an inconspicuous place first in case it stains the carpet.


If you’re not into expensive chemicals, try WD-40. Spray on a little and wait a while. Gently blot the area and the tar should come out of the rug.

Rubbing Alcohol

How about alcohol? No – drinking will not solve this problem. Rubbing alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol. Pour some on the tar stain and blot with paper towels, changing the paper towel as it gets dirty. Repeat the process until clean.


You can also use a heavy-duty degreaser that you can buy at a home improvement store. It will help break up the stain and you should be able to blot it up.

Crisco’s Not Just for Baking

After removing as much of the tar as you can, rub some Crisco into the stain. You’ll have to clean up the Crisco – so don’t use too much – but it’s great at getting tar out. Use a little dishwashing detergent and water to clean up the Crisco residue.

Dry Cleaning Solvent

Dry cleaning solvent is a good tar remover. You can buy it at your local home store. Put a small amount on a clean rag, cotton ball or a cotton makeup remover pad and blot. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Goo Gone

Goo Gone works to remove tar. Put a little on a clean, white rag. Don’t pour it on the tar spot. Blot and work from the outside edge working your way in. Don’t blot too hard and keep it up until the spot is gone.

If Discoloration Remains After Cleaning

If any of these stain removal techniques leaves a light colored or yellowish tinge on lighter carpets, try using hydrogen peroxide.  Again, test before using.

Pour a little hydrogen peroxide over the discoloration, cover with a towel and let it sit for about an hour.

If Necessary, Call In a Professional

If worse comes to worse, you can always call in a professional carpet cleaner. They will know other tricks to use and will have carpet cleaning chemicals that are unavailable to you.

If there’s nothing to be done about the carpet and you have any leftover pieces, you can replace the stained area. The stained piece of carpet can be removed with a utility knife and a new piece can be fitted in. It is recommended that you have this done by a professional or somebody that’s good with home repair. You don’t want to be cutting chunks out of your carpet that may necessitate the removal of the entire carpet due to ineptitude on the part of the person doing the repair.