How to Remove Tar/Asphalt from Shoes


Debbie asked: How do I remove tar/asphalt from golf shoes? The hot weather this past weekend has resulted in our golf shoes becoming filled with tar/asphalt. They were new, so we’re trying to seek answers on how to remove it. I tried putting a shoe in the freezer to see if the tar would become brittle, but had no success. Help!

Removing tar from the soles of shoes can be a challenge to say the least. Add in the factor of the spikes and cleats on golf shoes and you’ve got yourself a real task. Fortunately, it is possible to remove the tar/asphalt, but it will take some time and effort.

You Will Need:

  • Plastic knife
  • Dish detergent (such as Dawn)
  • Old toothbrush
  • WD-40

Steps to Remove the Tar/Asphalt:

  1. Begin by using the plastic knife to scrape off as much of the black goop as possible. Use caution not to gouge the sole of the shoe or damage any of the spikes.
  2. For the remaining tar, mix some dish detergent with warm water.
  3. Dip an old toothbrush in the mixture and use it to gently scrub the remaining tar away. It may take several applications to remove it all.
  4. If the detergent and water does not remove the tar/asphalt, it may be helpful to lubricate it with some WD-40.
  5. Spray some onto the stained area and allow it to set for a few minutes. Continue scrubbing with the old toothbrush as before.
  6. When all of the tar is removed, wash the entire area down with the detergent and water mixture to remove any remaining residue from the WD-40.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • There are cleaners specially designed to remove tar that can be found in the automotive section. These may also be effective in removing the tar without damaging the surface of the shoe.
  • Baby oil also works well as a lubricant to aid in the tar removal.
  • If the tar/asphalt layer is thick on the soles of the shoes, be prepared to put in some time and elbow grease to remove it all (or at least most of it).


  1. Big Geno says:

    1. Put the tar encrusted shoe in a container.

    2. Add gasoline to cover the tar encrusted sole.

    3. Tar is gone in 20 minutes.

    You’re welcome.

  2. Michelle B. says:

    I opened my car door and stepped into a big hot spot of tar, getting it all over a brand new pair of Dansko sandals. I thought for sure I was going to have to toss the shoes. Googled tar removal, tried the WD-40 first with a toothbrush, then used the water/dish detergent to clean off the WD-40. I am thrilled!! The tar came off after 10 minutes or so of careful spraying and brushing. You can’t tell I ever stepped in tar. The shoes are saved. Thank you!!

  3. Thanks for the heads up. Just was helping out on the roof this past weekend and got tar on some shoes that were sentimental. Haven’t tried to clean them yet; just needed some insight. Appreciate it though. Let you know the results soon.

  4. My daughter stepped in a section of fresh road tar this summer in new school shoes. I tried several of these methods. The one that worked for me was baby oil. I also tried Goo Gone, and it worked fairly well as well. It took a whole roll of paper towels and lots of wiping and patience, but I got them 99.9% tar-free again.

  5. I personally find that the WD-40 works much better than the water and dish deterrent. The knife works if you have the cracks in your shoes.

  6. Please can anyone help? My daughter is distraught; her new wedding shoes are covered in tar. They are lace and satin. The path outside the church had been resurfaced…hot day. The tar has gone up the heels, and also on parts of the back of the shoes. They were soooo expensive! Should we bin them?

  7. The detergent Dawn and argan oil worked perfectly. My husband had a large amount of tar on the bottom of his good loafers. Now, looks brand new! He was tickled pink. MaryAnn

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