Get That Tar Off: Lard Will Do It! Plus More Tips

Here’s a list of items I’ve collected over the years that can help remove splatters from vehicles, upholstery, soles of shoes and other items.

AsphaltBefore Getting Started:

  • Ensure that a surface’s paint, color or finish won’t be damaged by first testing a hidden area before going full steam ahead with a treatment.
  • It’s also important to try to clean off the tar as soon as possible, it can cause permanent damage and make it more difficult to get rid of the longer it is in contact with an item.
  • Do not spray or wash stain with water as this makes it more stubborn.

Fixes To Try

  • Before applying one of the items below, scrape off as much as you can with a putty knife or blunt knife (a plastic scraper works too).
  • If treating clothing or cloth items, treat from behind if possible (with stain face down on clean cotton towel), blot and do not rub as it may spread stain or set it in deeper.


Directions: Smother stain generously with one of the below items and then allow the item to work on softening things up first (about an hour or so). If this works, wash item well with soap and water to wash away all traces of the softener and any residue.

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lard
  • Margarine
  • Mineral oil
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Suntan lotion
  • Vegetable oil

If tar has been lifted but a stain remains, proceed to the list of solvents below (do not wash item with soap and water until after solvent treatment).


*Careful! These are flammable and item must be carefully washed after treatment.

Directions: Soak a corner of a rag with solvent then apply to stain in a dabbing or blotting motion.

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Lighter fluid
  • Turpentine
  • WD-40

For thick splatters: Hold an ice cube against spot and keep it there until the stuff becomes brittle enough that it can be gently pried off with a putty knife or spatula.

Remember to wash item well with soap and water when you’re done to get rid of all traces of solvent and softener.

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    • Dave

    Gasoline is a very dangerous solvent for cleaning purposes… its vapors are both flammable and potentially explosive, are very easily ignited by any flame or spark e.g. static electriciy, and can travel for surprising distances from the point of use. Gasoline is considered to be carcinogenic as well. It hasn’t been used or allowed as a commercial drycleaning solvent for decades.

    Some of the other solvents suggested are less dangerous e.g. Stoddard solvent (used in WD-40) as they have a higher flash point and don’t evaporate into flammable vapors as quickly. Even so, be careful… use them only outdoors and away from any possible sources of spark or flame.

    • stlheadake

    I use WD40 for EVERYTHING!! I keep a can by the washer, under the sink, and in my workshop. It removes makeup, and anything else that is petroleum based. Simply spray it on, and rub out the stain. I will PAT the stain with paper towels to absorb the WD40. Then liberally apply Dawn, or degreasing dish soap. Rub, and WD40 disappears with the stain!

    • Linda Rotert

    The “Tar Remover” article does not include how to remove it from your hands – such as when our driveway needs to be sealed. Just use a wet “Magic Eraser” – it is like MAGIC – and very little effort to remove the tar.

    • travis

    How can I lift a mineral turpentine spill from the road out the front of my house? It’s about 1 week old.

    • Amaka

    Have a cloth that has stained with tar for 3months now. And have applied several kinds of chemicals on it but to no avail.
    Please what should I do next?

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