Five ways to remove tar stains

Having found a tar stain on your clothes after a hike in the woods or a walk in the city park, do not panic, and even more, throw the stained thing immediately. Tar is quite difficult to remove – sticky substance is firmly embedded into the fabric fibers and is not removed by washing with powder. But our experts know a few ways to easily clean clothes from wood resin. The same agents can remove spots of epoxy or bitumen. About them now and we will tell you.

tar stains

General rules for tar stain removal

Tar is a complex chemical structure containing esters, acids and alcohols. Under normal conditions is in a solid state. Resin is not soluble in water, so it can’t be removed with a normal washing.

Resin melts very well when heated above 110C and solvents. It becomes brittle when it cools, so it crumbles easily. Knowing these properties makes it easy to remove tar stains.

You need to follow a few rules so that no tar stains are left behind. When doing so, make sure not to accidentally damage the fabric of the product:

  1. Clean as soon as possible. The sooner you start cleaning a tar stain, the easier it will be to get rid of it.

  2. Do not wipe off tar stains with a cloth or your hand. It will smear on the surface or become embedded deep into the fibers of the fabric, making the job of cleaning more difficult.

  3. Before you begin to remove the stain, scrape away the base of the tar with a knife, being careful not to rub the stain into the fabric. A spatula, the blunt side of scissors, a spoon, or a plastic card can be used. Fine fabrics can be damaged, so do not do that to them.

  4. Since you can still leave a tar stain after pre-cleaning, you need to use one of our recommended remedies to remove it. But before you scrub the contamination from the clothes, you should determine the type of fabric and apply an appropriate method of removal. This will prevent the deterioration of the product.

Resin is an extremely sticky substance, so it sticks to absolutely everything. In order not to have to later scrub the couch, carpet or other closet items, you should remove it from a hard surface (from a table or board), covered with an unnecessary rag.

When removing a small tar stain from clothing, the cleaner should be applied with a cotton swab. Large stains should be cleaned from the edges toward the center. This will prevent it from smearing on the surface of the fabric and increase the area to be cleaned.

Do not machine wash the stained item without first cleaning – the resin may stick to other items and ruin them.


We recommend to wrap the tarred thing into a polyethylene bag and put it into the freezer for 1 hour before treatment with improvised means. Then you need to take the thing into the heat, thoroughly crumple and rub the spot of contamination between your fingers. The frozen tar will crumble, and the tar can easily be removed with the blunt side of a knife, a coin, or a toothbrush.

Outer garments which cannot be put in the freezer rub the spot with ice or put a bag of frozen berries, vegetables or meat (whatever is in the freezer) on top. After 30-40 minutes try to scratch the stained spot with something sharp: a fingernail, a key, a coin or rub it with your hands.

Freezing in the cold is a good way to remove fresh resin immediately. If you put ice on your freshly soiled garment, it’s very likely the stain will come off in about 15 minutes without leaving any trace.

Heat treatment

Thermal treatment

Since tar is known to melt when exposed to heat, cleaning clothes can be accomplished in the easiest way possible – with an iron.

To do this, you need to:

  1. put under the stain (on the wrong side of the product) a few napkins or a sheet of paper folded in two or three times;

  2. put another pair of tissues and a thin cotton cloth (you can use a handkerchief) on the front side;

  3. Iron with a hot iron on top, observing the recommended temperature mode for the kind of material;

  4. as the melted resin soaks in, change the wipes – as soon as there are no more traces left on it, you can end the procedure;

  5. Wet the garment with warm water and rub the stain with laundry soap;

  6. after an hour, wash it in the usual way.

A garment made of material that cannot be ironed with an iron can be put under the stream of air from a steam generator or hair dryer. The stain will soften and can be gently removed with a clean cloth.

Only fresh tar can be removed with the thermal method. To remove stubborn stains, you must use additional cleaning methods.

Ways to remove old stains

Over time the resin is permanently absorbed into the fabric fibers, so heat only partially removes the dirt. It will still leave a trace. There are five ways to get rid of them.

Method 1. Ethyl alcohol

Since there are alcohols in the resin, it can be dissolved with pharmacy ethyl alcohol or alcohol-containing liquids: vodka, toilet water or hairspray.

Alcohol should be applied to a napkin or cotton pad and placed on the tar stain for 10-15 minutes.Brush off after a while and wash the garment in the usual manner.

Alcohol is suitable for tar cleaning of things made of natural and artificial fabrics, including dyed.

Method 2. Solvents

Organic solvents can easily remove tar stains from clothing:

  1. kerosene;

  2. white spirit;

  3. acetone;

  4. purified gasoline;

  5. turpentine;

  6. 646 thinner.

Use special gasoline – one that is free from impurities. It is not sold at gas stations, but in the departments of household chemicals. Regular car gasoline leaves streaks that are very difficult to get rid of. Workflow:

  1. wipe the soiled area of the fabric with a cotton pad soaked in solvent;

  2. wait for about half an hour;

  3. rub the soiled area with a clean cloth until the trace disappears;

  4. Rinse under running water;

  5. Wash with detergent on hands or in machine;

  6. dry the garment in the fresh air.

Before removing a stain with solvent, you need to make sure that, the material from which the thing is made, will not deteriorate. First apply the liquid with a cotton pad to the cloth in an inconspicuous place. If the texture has not changed, and there are no traces of paint on the absorbent cotton, you can safely use this remedy.

Do not use solvents to remove tar stains from coloured clothes and delicate fabrics.

Method 3. Solvent remover with laundry soap

Detergent with laundry soap

To remove tar stains from silk, wool or synthetic items, you should:

  1. Soak a small piece of laundry soap in hot water (1/5 of a piece per 100 grams of water);

  2. Add to 1 tsp.l. purified gasoline (kerosene or acetone) and the same amount of soapy water;

  3. apply the mixture to the soiled area;

  4. After an hour, scrub the stain with a brush;

  5. Wash the thing in the washing machine.

When working with aggressive agents with a pungent odor, safety precautions must be remembered. You must wear a mask and thick rubber gloves with an open window or window.

Method 4. Starch paste

Starchy starch paste can wash stained conifer resin from clothes made of delicates.

To prepare it, you will need:

  1. starch (corn or potato);

  2. Ammonia (ammonia);

  3. turpentine.

Mix all the ingredients in the ratio 3:2:1 in a separate bowl and apply the mixture to the stain for about half an hour. After that, rub with a toothbrush until completely clean and rinse in warm water.

Method 5. Stain remover Dr. Beckmann against grease and bitumen (Germany).

For picnickers in the woods and people, whose work involves the use of bitumen, hutaline, epoxy, we recommend buying a special stain remover against grease and bitumen.

The combination of solvents and surfactants (surfactants) contained in the product quickly dissolve the tar stains and remove them without trace. Suitable for all types of fabric, for white and colored things.

How to Remove Odors and Dissolvents from Solvents

How to remove the smell and stains from solvents

After using solvents, the tar stain on the garment disappears, but a specific smell remains and streaks may appear. Washing in the machine with a good detergent and the addition of laundry conditioner, as well as drying the product in the fresh air most often helps to solve the problem.

But if the smell or stains on the fabric still remained, you can use a mixture of baking soda and salt to remove them:

  1. Mix the components in equal proportions;

  2. Pour onto the area to be treated;

  3. Pour a small amount of warm water on top with a teaspoon or dropper;

  4. Rub the resulting gruel into a cloth;

  5. After 30-40 minutes, scrub with a brush;

  6. Wash the garment in the usual way.

After cleaning the tar stain with the solvent, you can also pour 5 drops of dishwashing liquid on the soiled area. Scrub with a brush and leave for an hour. Without rinsing off, send the clothes to the washing machine.

When washing in an automatic machine it is advisable to use the extra rinse function.

Opinion of the experts

To remove tar stains from clothes is not so difficult, if you know a few secrets:

  1. having a knife and iron at hand, you can easily get rid of fresh dirt;

  2. Solvents, alcohol-containing liquids or special stain removers will help to restore a decent look to clothes with a stain.

It is important to follow the rules of tar removal and choose a method suitable for this type of fabric. This will prevent the deterioration of the product.

When working with solvents one should be especially careful: treat a stain on colored things only after trying it on an inconspicuous area and do not forget about your safety.

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