COIT’s Guide on How to Remove Tar Stains

Looking for ways to remove tar stains in your home? COIT can help you get rid of tar stains with a few do-it-yourself solutions. We offer a guide to removing tar stains that can keep your various surfaces, including fabric, looking its best.

Dry tar stains on red surface

The History of Tar

Before we jump into specific tar stain removal techniques you can use at home, let’s take a closer look at what tar is and why it seems to stain. 

Tar is defined as a “dark, thick, flammable liquid distilled from wood or coal, consisting of hydrocarbons, resins and alcohols, and used in road making.” It has been used for centuries and dates back to the Ancient Greeks. Tar acted as water repellant coating for roofs and ships throughout Northern Europe, proving to be quite the useful substance. Even the ancient Greeks used what is called birch bar tar, which they actually produced from wood. They would apply this birch bar tar to broken pots when trying to put them back together. Removing tar stains probably wasn’t a huge concern to the Greeks.Furthermore, the Roman Empire was actually glued together thanks to birch bar tar! In Finland, tar was once used as a type of cure-all that was believed to have special healing abilities. In fact, it’s still considered a mild disinfectant. And believe it or not, tar is an additive that’s used to flavor foods, alcohol and certain types of candy that we consume today. 

Types of Tar

When you’re attempting tar stain removal, remember that there is more than one type of tar, which includes pine tar, coal tar and birch tar, all of which create tar stains. When you heat pine wood, this process causes tar and pitch to drip away from the wood, which then creates charcoal. Turpentine and charcoal are actually by-products of wood tar. 

Why Do Baseball Players Use Pine Tar?

In modern-day baseball, tar is used on a daily basis. But why do players coat their bats, and often their hands and helmets, with this sticky substance? It helps them get a good grip, which enables them to perform at their best. Baseball players rub pine tar, which is often mixed with dirt and rosin, directly onto the handle of the bar to make the grip even stickier. Yet another group of people who is probably not too concerned with how to remove tar stains. 

Composition of Tar

So what is tar made of? It’s good to know what you’re working with when you’re wondering how to remove tar stains. Pine tar, for example, actually contains turpentine, which is added to make the tar thinner. It’s made of up of tar acids, tar bases and aromatic hydrocarbons. Depending on the age of the pine tree it comes from, as well as the type of soil the tree was exposed to, pine tar’s exact components can vary. 

So the next time you encounter a tar stain, remember that COIT’s guide to removing tar stains can help you tackle even the toughest of stains on your own.


How to Remove Tar Stains from Carpet

COIT's Guide on How to Remove Tar Stains from Carpet

When it comes time to remove tar from carpet, there are a few solutions that you can apply to tackle this tough carpet stain.  In COIT’s guide to tar stain removal, we’ll give you step-by-step guidance to keep your carpet looking its best. 

Tar Stains

How to Remove Tar from Carpet: Method # 1

  1. Upon discovering the tar stain, be sure to remove as much of the stain as you can. Blot the stain to remove any tar residue.
  2. Vacuum the tar stain to get rid of any remaining particles.
  3. To create a cleaning solution, mix warm water and ¼ cup of liquid dish soap.
  4. Apply this cleaning solution directly to the tar stain. Slowly work from the outside of the tar stain to the center, moving slowly inward so you don’t spread the stain further onto the carpet.
  5. Rinse the tar stain with cold water and repeat steps 1 through 4 until the stain disappears.
  6. If the stain has not fully disappeared, you may want to consider professional carpet cleaning, which utilizes specialized stain removal equipment.
  7. If you’re able to use this method to successfully remove tar from carpet, place a dry paper towel directly onto the affected area. Weigh down the paper towels and allow them to soak up any moisture from the carpet. Leave overnight.
  8. Vacuum the area. 

Following the above mentioned steps should be a good start when wondering how to clean tar off carpet.

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How to Clean Tar off Carpet: Method # 2


If the above mentioned method is not successfully removing the tar stain from your carpet, try the following:

  1. Moisten the affected area of the carpet with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Let the tar stain sit for 1 minute.
  3. Blot with a paper towel to absorb any remaining stain.
  4. Apply a few paper towels directly onto the area with a weight and let it sit overnight. 


How to Remove Tar from Carpet: Method # 3


This tar stain removal technique involves a bit of store-bought cleaning solution, along with some rubbing alcohol. Before calling a professional carpet cleaner, you can try this do-it-yourself solution to remove tar from carpet.

  1. As soon as you discover the tar stain, it’s important to act quickly by scooping up any tar using a knife or spoon.
  2. If you have any store-bought carpet cleaning solutions available (sometimes these can help when wondering how to remove tar from carpet), try testing a small area of your carpet to see the effects it has. You’ll want to test a small portion to make sure it doesn’t damage your carpet.
  3. Pour a bit of rubbing alcohol directly onto the tar stain. Blot with a dry, clean cloth. 

If you can still see any remaining stain on your carpet, you can also try applying a bit of WD-40 (who knew WD-40 could help you answer the question of how to remove tar from carpet?) then gently working it into the stained area. Remember to try a bit on a smaller area of your carpet before applying it to the stained area. 


The above mentioned methods are meant to be quick solutions to keep your carpet in good shape. For an even deeper clean that will extend the life of your carpet, consider COIT carpet cleaning services to learn more. Don't forget to checkout our coupons!

Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible. These are suggested treatments only and COIT can't be held accountable for any damage sustained by use of the treatments in this spot removal guide.

Ricardo Cleaning Carpet

Home remedies not working?

If you’re still battling stubborn stains after trying these home remedies, professional cleaning may be a good option to explore. Check out COIT’s Cleaning Services to learn more about the help we can offer.

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