Joe asked: How do I remove tar from clothing? While crossing a railroad bridge, I leaned over the edge and got tar on my slacks. The tar was seeping out of the cracks in the wood rail on the bridge. It was a hot day.
Sticky, gooey tar sticks to clothing like gum clings to hair. To remove the tar, it requires lubricating it with some type of oil to help it release from the fabric fibers. Follow these guidelines to safely and effectively remove tar from your clothing.
You Will Need:
- Ice cubes
- Spoon or dull knife
- Lubricants (choose one):
- Bacon grease
- Vegetable oil
- Liquid vegetable glycerin
- Peanut butter
- Petroleum jelly
- Goo Gone
- Goof Off
- Soft cloths
- Laundry detergent
- Dish liquid
- Liquid solvent:
- White kerosene
- Lighter fluid
- Laundry stain pre-treatment
- Baking soda
Steps to Remove the Tar:
- For large areas with tar, it is best to scrape away as much as possible. Harden the tar with ice and then use a spoon or dull knife to scrape it away.
- The residue left in the fabric will need some lubrication to be removed. This is especially true for old, dry tar deposits. Lay a soft cloth under the stain to absorb any excess lubricant.
- Choose a lubricant from the list above.
- Blot it onto the stained area with a soft cloth. You will want to moisten the stain completely with the lubricant.
- Scrub the area gently with a cloth or blot with pressure to work the lubricant into the stain.
- Allow it to set for a little while, then blot the stain with a cloth. Turn the cloth to a fresh area as the tar is transferred to it.
- When you have blotted off as much tar residue as possible, rub some laundry detergent or dish liquid directly into the stain, then wash the item as usual. Use the hottest water setting that is safe for the fabric.
- Do not dry the clothing until you are sure the stain is removed. If placed in the dryer, the tar will melt and transfer to the walls of the dryer. This will then spread to other pieces of clothing, making a larger mess.
- If a stain remains, you can either use a liquid solvent to remove it or baking soda.
- To use a liquid solvent, sponge the stain with either kerosene or lighter fluid. Let the stains it for about 15 minutes, then apply a laundry stain pre-wash treatment. Wash the item as usual. Do not put the item in the dryer. Instead, let it air dry. If there is any remaining fluid residue on the fabric, it may be flammable in the heat of the dryer. Wash the item again as normal to be sure the fluid residue is removed.
- To use baking soda, mix baking soda with some water to make a paste. It should be about the consistency of toothpaste, not runny. Apply the paste over the stain. Let the paste sit on the stain for about 15 minutes, then wash the item as usual.
Additional Tips and Advice
- There are bug and tar removers available in any automotive department. These will remove the tar, but be sure to test a small area first to make sure there is no damage to the fabric.
- If the tar cannot be removed, have it professionally cleaned.
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