How to remove tar from carpet – 5 solutions to this sticky problem

Removing tar from carpet tends to be a little bit tricky, and requires extra care to ensure you don't damage or remove the fibers from the carpet.

There is nothing worse than coming in from a building site or the road to find a lump of tar stuck in the middle of your favorite carpet or floor rug. Because of their durability, car carpet is more forgiving and easier to clean.

The good news is that you don't need to replace the carpet and even reasonably large lumps of tar can be removed with a bit of care.

Because tar is an oil based product, you won’t be able to remove it from the fibers by only using soap and water. Instead, you need to use a solvent or a hand cleaner to get this type of stain sorted. before you get started, remove any loose bits of tar from the surface.

In this post, we will discuss 3 techniques you can use for tar removal from carpet.

Before trying any of these methods, rub any tar that is larger than a coin with ice cubes. This will set the tar and allow you to chip or scrape out the bigger pieces with a spatulas or spoon. Try not to grind the tar deeper into the carpet.

Method 1 – Dry Cleaning Solution

Dry cleaning solution is your friend when it comes to small stains that are still fresh. If the tar has been in the carpet for more than a few hours, you may have to repeat the procedure multiple times before you begin to notice the stain starting to fade.

To carry out this method, spray dry cleaning solution directly onto the spot and let it sit for a short time. Use a clean white rag to gently dab out the stain using a short flicking motion.

This short video from Josh Bale demonstrates how to use dry cleaning solution to remove a tar stain

As we mentioned above, this is the best solution for a small fresh stains. This is the mildest treatment, and if it doesn’t work, you should move onto one of the other methods.

Method 2 – Glycerin

This method works to solidify the tar to stop it from spreading. Once the tar is solidified, it become brittle and can be removed using a plastic scraper or spatula.

Step 1 : Apply liquid vegetable glycerin to the remainder of the stain. Leave the glycerin on the stain for about an hour and then use paper towels to blot up as much as you can. Repeat this step until most of the tar is gone.

Step 2 : Spray white shaving foam or carpet cleaner on the stain and rub it into the fibers. Use a sponge and water to blot off the remaining glycerin and shaving/carpet foam.

Method 3 – Solvent

This method will use a solvent to dissolve the tar and make it easier to blot up.

Step 1 : Apply a solvent to the stain. The solvent options you can use include:

  • Turpentine
  • WD-40
  • Brake cleaner
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Non-butane lighter fluid
  • Kerosene

It is important that you do this with good ventilation and that you wear gloves. Test the solvent on a hidden area of carpet and look for any adverse effects

Step 2 : Blot the tar as the solvent is applied. Use a fresh part of the cloth or turn it over until the tar is gone.

Step 3 : Mix a few drops of dish washing liquid with a few drops of water (equal amounts), and use the soapy water to blot away any remaining solvents. Make sure the dish washing liquid doesn’t contain bleach.

Method 4 – Mr Clean

We haven’t tested this one ourselves – but some home owners report that amixture of Mr Clean and Baking Soda works well on tar stains.

Mr. Clean Meadown Febreze Freshness Meadows & Rain Multi-Surface Cleaner 40 oz (2 Bottles), Pack of 2, Green
  • Mr. Clean racing on dirts parade
  • Multi-purpose cleaner
  • Wonderful febreze meadows & racing freshness
  • Cuts grease, helps eliminates orders
  • 1.25 qt. 40 fl oz

Step 1 : Add few drops of Mr Clean to baking soda to create a paste

Step 2 : Apply it to the area and gently blot to lift the stain from the carpet (don’t rub)

Step 3 : When the stain has been removed, rinse with clean water and vacuum

Method 5 – Folex

Folex is a cheap and highly effective carpet stain remover. At less than $10, its worth keeping a spare bottle in your laundry or under the kitchen sink.

Folex Carpet Spot Remover, 32 oz
This purpose built product is capable of removing all sorts of stains. It is especially good at removing grease and oil based stains and worth always having a bottle under the sink to deal with life’s little emergencies.

Final tips

Treating tar stains as quickly as possible is really important. If you leave them to sit, they will certainly become much harder to remove.

Don’t be disappointed if you first attempt doesn’t appear to work completely. Tar can be quite difficult to remove, and may require several treatments. However, with a little bit of persistence you should be able to completely remove the spot, and after a vacuum, no-one will know it was there.