The Miracle Way to Clean Beach Tar Off Shoes (Cooking Spray)

At SurviveSummer, you better believe that we love the beach. Whether it’s the sun, surf, or sand, we enjoy it all.

But that doesn’t mean everything about the beach is great. Sometimes there’s seaweed, or jellyfish, or if you just took a nice stroll along the beach you might find that your sandals are covered with tar deposits.

If you’re reading this, then the odds are high that you’ve got that tar on your shoes right now. In fact, you may have already tried to clean them off… to no avail. Even worse, you might have tracked it all around your house or the car without realizing it.

We’ve been there. During a recent beach trip we came back to see that our sandals were completely covered in the beach tar. What’s especially strange is that we don’t remember seeing the tar at all during the walk, but it certainly stuck to our shoes.

Take a look:

Shoes covered with beach tar
Beach tar that has since picked up sand and dirt

Our initial reaction was to try and clean it off with soap and water. But that didn’t really work for us. Then we tried scraping it off manually. It worked to get off the larger chunks, but was time-consuming and still left black spots all over the soles of the shoe.

Then we decided to test out something that we had heard will work to take tar off of shoes — cooking spray.

The great thing about cooking spray is that everyone has a can in their kitchen, so you don’t need to run out and buy any fancy cleaners to get your shoes clean.

So we grabbed our can of spray and a stiff scrub brush and went to work.

We first gave the entire sole of the shoe a nice coating of cooking spray to make sure there was full coverage. Then we gave it 4-5 minutes to soak into the tar spots on the shoe. Next we went after the tar with a scrub brush. It became clear that the tar was breaking up. We continued to scrub for a minute or two, while also hitting any stubborn spots with a little more cooking spray.

Here’s how the shoes looked after we were done scrubbing the first shoe:

Cleaning shoes with scrub brush

You can tell that they will be significantly cleaner, but they are still covered in a mixture of the tar and oil.

As a finishing step, we rinsed the shoes off under water and then applied a liberal coating of dish soap. Then we went back with the scrub brush to cover the entire surface of the sole in a lather. After about a minute of scrubbing we rinsed everything off with the hose again.

Here was the end result:

Clean shoes after beach tar

In all, the cleaning process from start to finish took only about 10 minutes to go from stained with tar to squeaky clean.

Tips for Cleaning Beach Tar With Cooking Spray

1. We would suggest working on a surface you can toss afterwards (such as a piece of cardboard). The cooking spray is obviously oily, and anything you get it on will also need to be cleaned. It’s much easier just to have a disposable working surface.

2. Be careful about overspray. Remember that oil will cause splotches on anything it touches until cleaned off. You don’t want to get oil over the rest of your shoe, just the sole where the tar is.

3. If you only have a couple of spots of tar, instead of everywhere on the shoe like we did, you can just spot clean using the spray. That will help you avoid getting more oil on things than needed and still get the tar off.


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