How To Remove Tar From Brick (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
Brick is generally easy to clean, but like any surface, you will have a hard time getting tar off of it. Luckily, there are special tar and bug removal solutions that you can easily apply to brick. Whether it be applying a solution, prying it off, or rinsing it away, let’s take a look at how you can remove tar from brick.

Tar is one of those substances that everyone dislikes cleaning. It gets on everything after a paving session, and it’s notoriously difficult to remove. This is especially true when you make the mistake of accidentally spilling tar on brick. Some people might say that it’s downright impossible to remove tar from brick, but it’s not. There is a way to get rid of that stuff once and for all…

The best way to remove tar from your bricks is to use bug and tar removal solution. This solution (along with warm water) softens the tar to the point that you can pry it off your bricks. Then, rinse the remaining tar off with a solution of hand soap and water.

If you recently finished up a roofing project or just had some tar from your asphalt work hit your path, you might be tempted to just throw your hands up in the air and give up. Don’t! We’ll walk you through the best way to get rid of it and keep your home looking spotless.

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What Removes Tar From Brick?

There are a bunch of remedies that you can find on the net, but the one that you want to use when working with bricks is something called “bug and tar” removal solution. This is a solution that is typically used to clear tar off cars, but it happens to work remarkably well as a brick cleaner too.

Which Bug And Tar Remover Is The Best To Use?

Like with a lot of other cleaning projects, it’s good to have a detergent that’s known for being effective. So far, the best ones on the market include:

  • Armor All Bug & Tar Cleaner. If you’re a “car person,” you already know that Armor All’s reputation is golden. This one will work well with almost any surface you bring to it.
  • The Chemical Guys Bug-Tar RemoverThis is professional-grade strength, which means that it can cut your cleaning time short fast. It also comes in a bottle big enough to ensure that you won’t have to deal with needing to re-up.
  • Gunk Tar-Bug RemoverAlong being able to remove bug guts and tar, Gunk’s offering also can remove tree sap. With that said, this one has a pretty strong smell, so hold your nose!

What Should You Do If You Can’t Find Bug And Tar Remover?

If you’re low on bug and tar remover, don’t panic. You can use rubbing alcohol or any other grease remover to finish the job. The key thing here is to pick a product that you know will soften up the tar. If you’re using a substitute, just follow the instructions below as if you have a bug and tar remover bottle in your hand.

Some of the other common tar removal products you can use include WD-40, baby oil, acetone, and paint thinner. However, your mileage may vary with these products, since each one will affect tar a little bit differently. For the sake of this article, we’re going to work with the assumption that you went out and got bug and tar remover.

Do You Need To Remove Tar Off Your Bricks?

For the most part, getting rid of tar off bricks is an aesthetic matter rather than a safety matter. The tar is not going to light on fire or harm your building’s structure. It just won’t look that good. So, if you don’t have time to remove tar from the face of your home, don’t worry. It’s mostly just a visual matter, and your HOA probably won’t even notice.

How To Get Rid Of Tar On Your Bricks

Now that you got a tar and bug remover, it’s time to actually do the cleaning part. Here’s how you are going to have to do it:

  • Apply the tar and bug remover to the brick. You can apply it liberally, since it’s going to need to work its way into the tar.
  • Wait for 15 minutes. This is the amount of time you’re going to have to wait for the solution to work through the tar and soften it up.
  • Grab a putty knife and pry off the tar. If it’s still hard, add more tar remover and wait. Otherwise, just scrape it off to the best of your abilities.
  • Make a solution of two cups of cold water, plus a tablespoon of hand soap. Stir it gently, and then dunk a sponge into the solution.
  • Wash the bricks with the solution, scrubbing gently in small circles. You can use a scrubbing sponge for this if you’re worried about having excessive residue.
  • If your bricks are stained, try washing them with another cleaning solution. Some might even go so far as to try bleach or a power wash. This is usually not that necessary, but, it’s still an option if you are a perfectionist.
  • Leave the bricks to air dry. Once you’ve gotten the tar off your bricks to your level of satisfaction, just leave them to air dry.
  • If you’re still unsatisfied with the results, do a second run. Most, if not all, tar will get lifted off after two passes with bug and tar remover.

Can Tar Permanently Stain Bricks?

Though tar can cause permanent stains in bricks from time to time, it’s very rare to see tar that won’t let up when it comes to discoloration. If you have a particularly stubborn stain, you may need to call up a power washer to get the stain removed. If that doesn’t work, painting over the brick with a similar color will camouflage the stain for good.

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Related Questions

Is tar bad for your skin?

Tar can be very sticky, which can lead to irritation when you’re trying to remove it. If you have hot tar land on your body, you can experience serious burns and scarring. If you come into contact with hot tar, you should immediately pull the tar off and ice your body. Administering first aid and bandaging the burned area is a must.

Is WD-40 safe on car paint?

WD-40 is noted for being incredibly useful on a wide range of materials. It’s also a remarkably gentle lubricant. This means that you can expect to use it safely on your car without worrying about car paint being damaged. WD-40 is so gentle, it can actually remove scratches off your car’s body if you use a rag to buff it into the scratch. Amazing, right?

Can I use turpentine to remove tar?

Like many other paint thinners, turpentine is an excellent choice for people who need to soften up tar or remove it altogether. Along with it being excellent for removing tar from brick and pavement, you can also use turpentine to clean up tar that’s been left on your carpeting.

How do you get tar off shoes?

If you stepped in tar that decided to lodge itself in your shoes, using a putty knife to scrape the tar away will usually do the trick. If you still have tar left, dip a disposable toothbrush in water and grease-cutting detergent, and scrub the rest away. When done properly, this should remove the tar off your shoe with little to no residue left.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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