Whether you attended a monster truck rally or you spent the weekend in your RV, you may come home to find your clothes reeking of diesel fumes. You probably didn’t mind the odor so much while having fun outside, but that gas smell can drive you crazy inside your home. Unfortunately, tossing your clothes in the wash won’t do the trick, so you will need to know expert methods for how to get the diesel smell out of clothes!
The easiest way to get the diesel smell out of clothes is to use a natural deodorizer like baking soda or eucalyptus oil. Cleaning products like Fast Orange, Ammonia, and Pine-Sol can also remove stubborn odors. Pretreating clothing by soaking in dish detergent or strong laundry soap will make these methods more effective.
In this article, you will learn what makes diesel smells so tough to budge. You’ll discover the top seven ways to get rid of that annoying gas smell. Finally, you’ll get some tips for removing diesel smells from shoes and upholstery!
Why Doesn’t the Washer Get Rid of the Diesel Smell?
Simply throwing your diesel-stained clothes in the washer seldom works because many commercial laundry detergents can’t break down oil-based stains to entirely remove the grease and the smell. Instead, you need a commercial degreasing agent, a solvent-based stain remover, or a natural deodorizer.
So, why does diesel have such a powerful, lingering odor? Mostly because it contains a fairly high percentage of sulfur and nitrogen. If you have ever visited a hot spring or cracked open a rotten egg, you know exactly what sulfur smells like!
Regular gasoline evaporates fast and thus doesn’t leave such a clinging smell behind. It’s also more refined than diesel and doesn’t have quite such a powerful scent.
Getting rid of that diesel smell means finding a way to get rid of the sulfur and nitrogen particles that adhere to your clothing or shoes.
On its own, the diesel smell may linger for six to eight weeks in your car or your clothing! Since you don’t want to deal with such a lengthy inconvenience, you can easily learn how to get diesel smell out of clothes if you keep reading!
How to Get the Diesel Smell Out of Clothes: 8 Methods
You can get the diesel smell out of your clothes by applying any of the eight methods described here. Some of them offer helpful tips for using common household products you probably have in your pantry. Others require commercial cleaners or degreasers that will work even on large diesel stains in your clothing.
These methods will work best if you also apply the “before and after” steps recommended here!
Before and After
If you take a few extra precautions before and after any of the eight treatments, you will get even better results!
Just in case you’re tempted to try multiple methods on a smelly garment, please note that it’s generally unsafe to mix cleaning products together. If you try one method and it fails, you can certainly try another–just make sure you rinse out the garment thoroughly before attempting the second method.
Before You Get Started
- Blot the spill if necessary. If you’re dealing with a diesel spill or a wet diesel stain in your clothing, use a paper towel to carefully blot up as much moisture as you can. This way, you will have less to wash out of your clothing later.
- If your clothes reek, or if you can see a diesel stain dried into the fabric, pre-wash the clothing by hand in a solution of water and dishwashing detergent. Just add a tablespoon of dish soap to a bucket of warm water and dunk the clothes right in.
- Alternatively, you can soak your clothes overnight in warm water with a spoonful of heavy-duty anti-grease laundry detergent.
- As a word of caution, don’t try to use chlorine bleach! This may react with the remnants of diesel in the fabric and cause discoloring. Also, as you already know, the regular detergent will not suffice to remove fuel odors or stains. You will need something stronger!
- You will need to follow up on any of these treatments with a regular wash in your washing machine. Make sure you use a good detergent during this process.
- If possible, air-dry your clothing in a nice, sunny spot after washing.
- As a word of caution, do not place diesel-stained garments in the dryer, as there is a faint possibility the heat could cause the lingering diesel particles to ignite!
- If you’re out camping and the diesel accident occurred while filling up your RV, make sure you don’t wear those stained clothes near a campfire or grill, either!
1. Baking Soda and VinegarBaking soda and vinegar both have natural deodorizing and stain removal properties that can provide a cheap, handy method for getting the smell of diesel out of your clothes.
While it’s nice to use natural methods that don’t depend on strong chemicals, you should note that this works best on faint smells. For clothing that still has a strong smell of diesel or diesel fuel stains, you’re probably going to have to resort to a heavy-duty commercial cleaning product or a solvent-based stain remover.
- First, put your smelly clothing in the wash by itself. You don’t want to spread the contagious scent to other clothes!
- Measure in your regular laundry detergent.
- Sprinkle about half a 14 oz box of baking soda and a half cup of vinegar on top of the clothes. You don’t want to pour this into a dispenser area of your machine, as it could cause clogs.
- Run the full wash cycle.
- Take the damp clothes outside to dry if possible.
- Once dry, check them or any remaining scent, and repeat the process as necessary.
These natural products will not damage your machine or mess up your clothes. Vinegar provides a great natural cleaning for your machine, and also acts as a brightening agent for light-colored clothing.
2. Coke and Baking Soda
Coca-cola and baking soda offer another (almost) natural way to get diesel fuel smell out of clothing!
Believe it or not, coke has pretty amazing cleaning properties. It contains citric acid, which can break down and remove rust. It’s a natural degreaser, meaning that you can use it to help remove oil stains from clothes or even your driveway, and it even removes blood stains from clothing or carpets!
Adding baking soda causes a reaction that helps budge tough grease stains.
- Fill up a soak cycle on your washing machine and let your clothing sit for a couple of hours.
- Drain the water and start over for another soak.
- Add a 2-liter bottle of coke and a 14 oz box of baking soda as the washer fills up.
- Allow the garments to soak in this solution overnight or up to 24 hours.
- Finally, wash as usual and then check for any remaining diesel fuel smell.
Dumping a 2-liter bottle of coke and baking soda into your washing machine isn’t the most cost-effective treatment! That said, you may find yourself a convert to the coke-cleaning method as it does work.
3. Rubbing Alcohol and Baking SodaRubbing alcohol and baking soda together also works well as a natural stain lifter and deodorizer. Rubbing alcohol is a great degreaser that also works well to remove small grease stains from many kinds of clothing.
- If you see any obvious diesel stain, sprinkle baking soda over the stained area.
- Pour rubbing alcohol over the stained area until it is soaked through.
- Let this sit for an hour, and then wash as usual.
- If you don’t see a stain and just want to remove the smell, prepare a soak using a tub of warm water, a cup of rubbing alcohol, and about half a 14 oz box of baking soda.
- Soak the clothing in this solution for one to two hours before washing as usual.
4. AmmoniaIt might seem counterproductive to use something strong-smelling to get rid of another strong smell, but ammonia does a fantastic job removing musty, oily, or just plain gross stains and odors from clothing!
- Put the garments smelling of diesel fuel into the wash.
- Measure in detergent as you would normally.
- As the washer fills up, pour 1/2 cup of ammonia into the water.
- Allow the wash cycle to complete
- Air-dry the clothing outside instead of putting it in the dryer.
Depending on how sensitive you are to smells, you may need to wash your clothing a second time to make sure it just smells like fresh detergent after this treatment.
5. Eucalyptus OilEucalyptus oil also contains natural degreasing agents. If you buy essential oils prepared either by cold pressing or distilling so that the oils remain pure, you can easily use this pleasantly scented oil to remove the lingering diesel fuel smell.
- Put the smelly clothes in the washer by themselves.
- Begin a normal wash cycle using warm water.
- When the washer has filled, add several drops of eucalyptus oil to the water.
- Allow the cycle to finish as usual.
This method is cheap and effective, but it does work best on clothes made of natural fibers, like cotton. It may not work on synthetic garments made of polyester or rayon.
6. ListerineListerine does a lot more than give you minty-fresh breath! Listerine contains ethanol and several essential oils, including eucalyptus oil. As a product designed to eliminate bad smells in your mouth, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it can do the same for your clothes!
- Start your washing machine cycle as you usually would, and add detergent.
- Measure a cup of Listerine in, either through the bleach compartment or directly into the water.
- Allow the wash cycle to complete. Before drying your clothing, give it a sniff test and check for any lingering diesel fuel smell. If you didn’t get the diesel fuel smell totally on that first go-round, try going through the same process again, but add half a cup of baking soda to the wash as well.
As a fun fact, you can also use Listerine to remove the smell of smoke from your clothing after a campfire or a grilling session!
7. PinesolYou may think of Pine-Sol as a toilet bowl or bathroom floor cleaner, but it has a wide range of uses around the house! Besides removing oil-based stains and smells from your clothing, it can also clear away the accumulated grease in your washing machine.
- Begin your washing process as you usually would, adding a good detergent.
- Measure in 1/2 cup of Pine-Sol.
- Finish the wash cycle.
- Check your clothes to see if they smell too much like a commercial cleaner, and wash again with detergent if necessary.
You can also substitute several other commercial cleaning products such as Mr. Clean in this process, but make sure you read the label to make sure the product does not contain chemicals that will harm your clothing before you begin.
8. Fast OrangeFast Orange is a lotion-style hand cleaner designed to remove grease and grime from the skin. Mechanics, construction workers, and other folks who work with their hands have a lot of respect for this powerful cleaner!
Surprisingly, it also works well on fabric!
- Locate any obvious diesel stains on the garment and rub just a dab of Fast Orange directly onto the stains.
- If you don’t see any stains and just need to combat the smell of diesel, skip step one and add about a tablespoon of Fast Orange to the water in your washing machine instead.
- Run your regular wash cycle.
- Check the clothes for any remaining odor.
- If necessary, repeat this process, but add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash as well the second time around.
You can also try using a similar commercial cleaning product such as Simple Green. Just test it on an inconspicuous section of your clothing first to make sure it doesn’t damage the material.
How to Remove Diesel Smell From Clothes After Washing
You can usually get rid of the diesel smell in your clothes even after you washed them by adding a vinegar soak to any of the eight methods described in this article.
The best way to get the diesel smell out of your clothes is to treat it right away, but if you already threw the clothing in the washer, don’t despair!
- First, pick one of the eight methods described in this article to try, such as the coke and baking soda method. Get all your supplies out ready to go.
- Next, set up a pre-soak. Fil a bucket, basin, or tub filled with equal parts hot water and vinegar.
- Let your clothing soak for half an hour to an hour.
- Then proceed on to one of the eight methods described earlier!
In all honesty, you may have to repeat the treatment process a couple of times. It’s trickier to remove a smell after you have already washed and dried your clothes. Just do the sniff test after each completed wash cycle to find out if the process worked!
How to Get Diesel Fuel Stains Out of Clothes
All of the eight methods described earlier will do a good job getting diesel fuel stains out of clothing as well as removing the smell.
Here are some tips to help you with stain removal:
- Always blot a wet stain to remove as much moisture as possible before you begin.
- You should pretreat stains with a solvent-based stain remover before you begin. Spray N’ Wash or a similar product should work!
- Alternatively, rub a little baking soda into a fresh stain and let it sit for 24 hours before applying one of the methods from this article.
- Or, as a final option, pretreat by rubbing dish soap directly onto the stain, using either your fingers or a soft brush. Let this sit for several hours before moving on to one of the eight methods.
- Generally, treatments using all-natural products will work but may require multiple applications.
- Powerful commercial cleaners like Fast Orange will do the trick quickly but you run the risk of damaging delicate fabrics.
- Finally, as you might expect, it’s a lot easier to get fresh stains out of your clothes! Try to apply a pretreatment as soon as possible.
How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Shoes
The best way to get the diesel smell out of your shoes is to wash them, treat them with baking soda and vinegar, or deodorize them with a peeled potato.
If your shoes are washable, you can place them in a zipper laundry bag to prevent the laces from tangling up, and throw them in a regular wash cycle. You will want to use either strong detergent or measure in a capful of one of the commercial cleaners mentioned earlier, such as Fast Orange.
Though you can, in theory, put sneakers in the dryer, you’re probably better off letting your shoes air-dry in a nice sunny spot.
If you straight-up spilled gas all over your shoes while filling up a boat or your RV, you may need to take some extra measures such as soaking the shoes in a tub of water with dish soap overnight before you wash them.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Just like with your clothes, you can use the natural deodorizing properties of baking soda and vinegar to remove diesel odors from your shoes. You may have to repeat the process as necessary to fully remove an odor using these household products.
Follow the steps described in the baking soda method earlier in this article.
That said, the great benefit of this method is that you can apply it to many dress shoes and even leather shoes without damaging them. If you have non-washable shoes, you may want to try out this method!
Potato in a Bag
This might sound like a stretch to you, but one great way to neutralize shoe odor is to put a potato in a Ziploc bag with your shoes! This method works really well for leather shoes, though less well for fabric shoes.
First, peel two potatoes that will fit into your shoes. Second, shove the potatoes up into the toe area of the shoes. Finally, zipper the shoes tightly inside a Ziploc bag.
Let them sit overnight. In the morning, the odor should be gone!
You can get diesel out of clothes and shoes using natural deodorizers like baking soda, vinegar, and eucalyptus oil, or commercial cleaning products like Pine-Sol. You can even apply hand cleaners meant to combat grease to remove both the smell and the stains left by diesel fuel!
Ideally, you should try to get the diesel smell out of your clothes as quickly as possible by using one of the eight methods described here. If you have already washed and dried your clothing but the diesel smell remains, you might have to apply a treatment more than once to get rid of the smell for good.
Have you ever successfully dislodged that annoying diesel smell from your clothing? What method did you use? Leave a comment below to let us know!