Tired of having tarmac-covered shoes that make you look like you just emerged from a roadwork site?

While free upgrades are great, getting the black sticky sludge all over your shoes is not an upgrade anyone enjoys. Getting tarmac on your shoes not only ruins their appearance, but it can also be a real pain to remove and can leave them looking worn out and dirty.

What if I told you there was a way to remove tarmac, bitmac, asphalt, or any other black sticky road “upgrade” from your shoes? And no, I’m not talking about tossing the shoes in the trash.

Today we’re talking about the technique for removing these substances from your shoes with a few products and a bit of elbow grease. So, grab your supplies, and let’s jump right in.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

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To effectively clean tarmac off your shoes, you'll need the following cleaning supplies:

  1. Plastic Scraper: Use a plastic scraper to remove as much of the tarmac as possible from your shoes. This tool will help you loosen and scrape off the debris without damaging the shoe.
  2. Damp Cloth or Sponge: Prepare a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining debris after scraping. This will help you clean off any loose particles from the shoe's surface.
  3. Bucket: Get a bucket to mix warm water and dish soap for the scrubbing process. The bucket should be large enough to hold water and allow you to dip your shoe into it.
  4. Dish Soap: Add a few drops of dish soap to the warm water in the bucket. The soap will help break down any stubborn tarmac residue and facilitate the cleaning process.
  5. Old Toothbrush: Retrieve an old toothbrush that you no longer use for oral hygiene. The toothbrush will be used to scrub the remaining tarmac on the shoe. Ensure it is clean and dry before use.
  6. Clean Cloth or Sponge: Prepare a clean cloth or sponge for rinsing the shoe after scrubbing. This cloth will help remove any soap residue and remaining debris.
  7. Newspaper or Similar Material: If you want to speed up the drying process, have stuffing material available. Stuffing it into the shoes will absorb moisture and assist in the drying process.
  8. Non-Porous Sheet: It's a good idea to protect the surface you're working on with a non-porous sheet to prevent any mess.
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Remember to gather all these supplies before starting the cleaning process to ensure a smooth and efficient tarmac removal from your shoes.

Step 2: Start Scraping

Begin by using the plastic scraper to remove as much of the tarmac as possible. Hold the scraper at a slight angle and use a back-and-forth motion to loosen and remove as much of the tarmac as possible. Be sure to scrape gently so as not to damage the shoe.

If the tarmac is particularly stubborn, you may need to use a bit more force, but still, be careful not to scrape too hard and damage the shoe. Once you've removed as much of the tarmac as possible, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining debris.

Pro Tip: It's a good idea to protect the surface you're working on with a non-porous sheet to prevent any mess.

Step 3: Get to Scrubbing

Fill the bucket with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Mix it well. Dip an old toothbrush into the soapy water and use it to scrub the remaining tarmac on the shoe. Ensure the toothbrush is well-soaked in soapy water before scrubbing the shoe.

Scrub in a circular motion to ensure that all the tarmac is being removed. Pay attention to the areas where the tarmac is most stubborn and apply extra pressure to those areas. Scrub both the outside and the inside of the shoe, and make sure to get into all the crevices and grooves.

Step 4: Rinse Well

Once you have scrubbed the shoe thoroughly, rinse it off with warm water. Hold the shoe under a stream of warm water, and make sure to remove all the soap and debris. Use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining soap and debris.

Make sure to pay attention to the areas where the tarmac was most stubborn to ensure all the debris is removed. Rinse the shoe inside and out, making sure to get into all the crevices and grooves.

Once you have rinsed the shoe thoroughly, ensure all the tarmac has been removed. Repeat steps 3 and 4 if necessary until all the tarmac is removed.

Step 5: Allow Time to Dry

Once you have completed the scrubbing and rinsing process, allowing your shoes to air dry completely before wearing them again is essential. Avoid using heat sources, such as a hairdryer, direct sunlight, or radiator, as these can cause certain materials to become stiff and brittle.

You can stuff your shoes with newspaper or similar absorbent material to speed up drying. This will absorb any remaining moisture and help the shoes dry more quickly.

Tip from Our Editors

  1. Tackle stubborn spots with WD-40 Spray. Simply spray on the area, allow a few minutes to work its magic, then wipe with a soft cloth- using care to avoid spreading the spot. Spot test a small area first, as it may damage or permanently stain some materials (like Suede or leather). It’s also a good idea to place the shoe on either newspaper or a non-porous sheet to protect your surface or simply do this step outside.

On a Final Note

Getting tarmac off shoes may seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it's as easy as pie. So next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, just remember to keep calm and scrape on!

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