How to Remove Roofing Tar

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Things You'll Need

  • Petroleum-based solvent

  • Citrus-based cleaner

  • Soft rags

  • Scrub brush

  • Sandblaster (optional)

Tar can take a lot of time to remove.

Roofing tar is a sticky black substance used to waterproof roofs before shingles are applied or used on flat roofs to improve their ability to resist water damage. Sometimes the tar accidentally gets on objects or fabrics, and the longer it sits there, the harder it dries, often making it difficult or challenging to remove it. If caught early, however, common household chemicals can remove it. If it resists removal, professionals may be able to salvage the contaminated surface.

Step 1

Apply the citrus-based solvents first. These solvents are among the safest to use. If the object is a dyed fabric, test a small area for colorfastness. If the color does not fade, continue to clean the stain with back-and-forth movements and a soft rag. Continue to rub it gently and reapply the solvent until the stain is gone.

Step 2

Wet a soft cloth with the petroleum-based solvent and rub it on the stain until it is gone. Take care when using these petroleum-based solvents inside and out. They are flammable and a spark may ignite the fumes. If working inside, open doors and windows to ventilate the room. Turn off the furnace or air conditioner until the fumes have had a chance to dissipate.

Step 3

Scrub a tar stain on a carpet gently by starting at the bottom of the fiber and wiping the fibers upward, using a scrub brush. By using an upward motion, the tar will not seep lower into the backing of the carpet. Rubbing it hard may drive the tar deeper into the carpet and over time, the material will continue to come up.

Step 4

Sandblast masonry surfaces if the tar deposits cover a large area. Solvents may dissolve some of the tar, but most masonry surfaces are porous and it will be impossible to remove the tar that has soaked into the blocks, concrete, or brick.


Dry cleaners can remove tar stains from clothing or other articles made from most fabrics. If you bring it in, tell the cleaner that the stain is roofing tar.

Consider hiring a professional to help remove the tar. A tar stain in the middle of the room is hard to hide, and it is far less expensive to hire a pro than replace the carpet.


Wash and dry clothing before wearing it after removing the stains. Let the carpet dry thoroughly before placing any objects over the stain.

references & resources

Jackie Johnson

Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.