How to Get Tar Out of Your Dryer

Effectively remove tar from dryer drums.
Effectively remove tar from dryer drums. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Spots of tar in a clothes dryer require removal. Leaving the tar in the dryer will cause the tar to melt from the heat and deposit small bits onto clothing. Removing tar from the dryer requires use of a nonflammable solvent. Kerosene, gasoline and mineral spirits are proven tar solvents for metal surfaces. These remedies are not safe for dryer use. Even after washing the surface to remove solvent residue, fire can occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice
  • Putty knife or spatula
  • Citrus-based cleaner or soy-based cleaner
  • Lard or margarine
  • Rags
  • Degreasing dishwashing soap
  • Sponge

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Place ice onto the tar deposits inside the dryer. Allow the ice to harden the tar for 15 to 20 minutes. Scrape as much of the brittle tar as you can off the surface with a flexible, plastic putty knife or plastic spatula. Do not use a metal scraper as this will scratch and damage the dryer drum.

Apply a nonflammable, citrus-based or soy-based all-purpose cleaner to a rag. Scrub the tar stain with the rag. Continue to scrub until the stain disappears. Effective home remedies include applying lard or margarine to the tar with a rag and scrubbing until the tar degrades and transfers to the rag.

Add 1 teaspoon of degreasing dishwashing soap to 1 cup of hot water. Stir gently to dissolve. Dip a rag or sponge into the mixture and wipe off the oily residue. Repeat two to three times. Wipe the surface with a damp rag to remove soap residue.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dry a load of damp rags after cleaning the dryer to ensure no tar remains.
  • Inspect all clothing for tar prior to placing them in a dryer.
  • Do not use flammable solvents in a clothes dryer. Even after washing and allowing the dryer to air, the probability of a fire is great.


  • "Heloise from A to Z Updated"; Heloise; 2004
  • "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home"; Martha Stewart; 2006
  • "Grandpa's 5001 Handyman Secrets"; Dr. Myles H. Bader; 2006
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