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How to Get Tar Out of Carpet

A person with dirty shoes walking on a light beige carpet.

Tar and tar stains on carpet are potentially difficult to remove, but even you can learn how to safely clean tar stains out of your carpet in ways that do not include throwing the entire carpet out for the bulk pickup crew

Getting tar out of your carpet is likely not one of the things that you listed on your bucket list. Sometimes, things happen that let you know it is just going to be one of those days where you face difficult, unexpected tasks. One example is when the spouse brings tar stains home on the work boots from a construction project or road paving job site, or when you unknowingly step in wet tar and bring it inside your home and onto your carpets.

Perhaps you believe that the only way to successfully remove the tar and the carpet stains is to call a professional carpet cleaner and spend money that you did not expect to spend. There are ways to remove tar out of carpeting without spending a small fortune. One source suggested that a homeowner should simply cut off the tar-stained carpet fibers with a pair of scissors and throw them away. That is likely the type of tip that you were trying to avoid when searching for tips on how to get tar out of carpet.

Consider these tips on products and methods to safely and effectively get tar out of carpet. Learn what substances or what steps that you need to avoid when removing the sticky substance and the dark stains from your carpets.

Issues with How to Get Tar Out of Your Carpet

A person leaving dirty shoe prints on the carpet.

Most people assume that there will be carpet stain messes at some point. The kids drop their sippy cup full of milk or juice, the teenagers and their friends knock over the snacks onto the carpet, or a guest drops their glass of wine onto the carpet at your holiday party. You likely think that any of those scenarios are better than having to try and get tar out of carpet. You are probably right, but with some great tips, some patience, and ‘elbow grease,’ even you can discover how to safely remove tar from carpet.

One issue with tar stains on carpet is the fact that tar hardens pretty quickly. It also potentially seeps into the carpet fibers while still wet, sticky, and messy. This leaves a dark, deep stain in your carpets.

If you do not realize that the tar is there right away, there is a possibility that you or another family member walks right through it. This likely tracks the tar further, and makes more tar stains on the carpets.

Another issue is that homeowners likely assume that removing and replacing the carpet damaged by tar is the only solution. That is an expensive idea, and one that is not always the right step. There are several ways for you to discover how to get tar out of carpet when you know which is the ideal option for your particular carpets. It is important to understand that there are some products and methods that you should not use when tackling the issue of trying to clean tar and tar stains out of carpet.

Knowing the Products to Avoid is an Important Part of Removing Tar from Carpet

A gloved hand cleaning the carpet with a sponge.

Do you think that running to get the bleach or a product containing bleach is the best way to get tar out of carpet? This will fail to remove the tar, and present bigger issues because you will then have bleached-out sections on your carpet in addition to the stubborn tar.

Another important point is to avoid applying any products directly onto your carpet. This is a safer tip than some sources that inform readers to pour a product directly on the carpet. Applying a product to a cloth or cleaning towel allows you to control the amount of product used on the carpet. It also allows you to test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet to make sure that it does not worsen the stain or add new stains to the carpet.

Use only a white cloth when removing the tar. If you use a colored cloth or towel, you risk transferring the dye onto your carpet.

One of the first products that some people use is dishwashing detergent. An important tip is to make sure that you only use clear dishwashing liquid when you apply a small amount to your wet sponge or in your small container of water and dishwashing liquid.

Avoid using colored dishwashing liquid products, and you avoid stains on the carpet that are the color of the dishwashing liquid. You do not want tar stains and pink or green dishwashing liquid stains mixed together on your carpet.

Always read the product label to make sure that it is safe to use on your specific type of carpet. Avoid using any product, no matter how mild you think it is, if it is not safe for use on the carpet that has the tar on it. Some products indicate that it should not be used on fabrics such as rayon, for example, while other product labels may indicate that you should not use it on wool.

The First Steps to Get Tar Out of Carpet

Removing the loose, or easy-to-remove clumps of tar is the first step. Can you pick up any pieces of the tar or gently remove them from carpet fibers? If the tar stain is fresh, try to blot up as much as possible with paper towels. Do this by patting the paper towel very lightly because if you press down, you will only seep the tar deeper into the carpet, and make the stain worse.

If you are not confident in your ability to safely remove fresh tar, you are not alone. Some people prefer to try and remove the tar when it hardens, believing that it is easier to remove at that time. Therefore, do not panic if you discovered the tar and stains from the tar after it already hardened.

Using ice is one of the first steps, and one of the easiest, natural methods to remove tar from carpet. This eco-friendly method allows you to remove hardened tar without the use of any harsh products. There are no chemical fumes that are potentially dangerous to pets or people.

Put on protective gloves to protect your hands when using the ice cubes. Rub the ice cubes over the tar. This makes it become hard and brittle. Once the tar hardens, scrape it up with a butter knife or spoon. Get creative and use the edge of a credit card or spatula. Some people may use a small brush. If you do this, make sure that the tar is indeed hardened so that you do not brush it deeper into the carpet.

Pick up the loose, crumbled pieces of tar before moving on to any additional steps.

Okay, What are the Next Steps?

Once you remove the loose tar, it is time to remove the tar stains. If you were not successful at hardening and loosening any of the tar with ice, these next steps will likely help you get tar out of carpet.

Use the clear dishwashing liquid by applying it with a damp sponge or cleaning brush. Do not soak the sponge because the water will possibly make the stain worse, and seep through the carpet, possibly giving you a mold issue. Use a 50/50 solution of dishwashing liquid and water. If you use one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, combine it with one tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Apply by dabbing, or blotting the stain. Use small motions and check frequently to see if the tar comes out.

Gloved hands cleaning the gray carpet with a soapy sponge.

Another frequently used method of removing tar from a carpet is to treat the tar stain with a commercial dry-cleaning solvent. Open windows for ventilation, and put on protective gloves before using this method. Wet a white cloth with water and the dry-cleaning solvent. Start along the outside edge of the stain. Work towards the center to avoid spreading the tar stain, blotting or dabbing as you go. Make sure that you avoid soaking the carpet.

Did the tar already set into the carpet? You may have to repeat the steps with the dry-cleaning solvent several times to completely remove the stain. Once it is gone, dampen a clean white cloth with warm water to rinse away any remaining solvent.

Consider using rubbing alcohol to remove tar from carpet if it is a small stain. Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto your dry white cloth, and start gently dabbing across the tar stain. Add more alcohol to your cloth as you move across the stain. Do not use too much alcohol, or you risk the alcohol seeping into the carpet backing, and possibly damaging your carpet.

Baking soda is an eco-friendly method of potentially removing tar from carpet. Consider whether you want the mess of simply sprinkling baking soda on your carpet and then running the vacuum over the area after the product sits over the tar stain a while. A method that is likely less-messy, and possibly more effective, is to use baking soda and white vinegar.

Apply a little white vinegar to a clean cloth and place it over the stain long enough for the vinegar to soak into the carpet but not saturate it. Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet and let sit for several minutes. Some people leave the solution overnight. Vacuum the remaining solution and check to see if the stain is gone.

Commercial Products Possibly Get Tar Out of Carpet

A woman lying on the carpet tired from cleaning.

There are several commercial products that are potentially effective against that pesky, frustrating tar stain. One option is WD-40. Wet a cloth with a liberal amount of WD-40, and lay the cloth directly over the tar stain for at least 10 minutes. Use a dry cloth to blot up the stain and the WD-40.

Once you remove the stain, use a small amount of dishwashing liquid and water to remove the WD-40 from your carpet.

Some retailers that sell commercial cleaning products offer commercial tar remover products. Make sure that it is safe for your carpet, and always follow directions.

There are sources that suggest using products like brake cleaner or other commercial cleaning products. Consider whether you want to attempt using these products, particularly if you have children or pets.

Make sure that you ventilate the area before using any commercial products to remove tar from the carpet. Always follow instructions, no matter which method or product you use, and you may achieve success at your attempts to get the tar out of your carpet.

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