If you work as a diesel mechanic or technician or use a diesel vehicle, you are bound to have diesel stains and or diesel smell on your clothing. Additionally, that potent odor can also hang in the air in your home, especially if you come in contact with diesel regularly.
These stains and smells can prove to be stubborn when trying to wash them off. So, it might take you more than one attempt to entirely remove the stains, which can be dangerous if not removed properly. How? Well, diesel stains make your clothes and carpets more flammable! Fortunately, there are various effective solutions for diesel odors and stains.
How to Remove Diesel Fuel Out of Clothes
Now, before we proceed, there are a few things I should mention. If the stained garment is labeled “dry clean only,” take it to the dry cleaner. Remember to point out and identify the stain as different stains require different stain removal techniques. Additionally, for stained vintage or silk upholstery, it is best to consult a professional. There are various diesel fuel removers you can try, including:
Solvent-Based Stain Remover
Pretreat the diesel fuel with a solvent-based stain remover or an enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent. Rub in the treatment with a soft-bristle brush and leave it for at least 15 minutes. Then, wash the article of clothing in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric.
If there are still lingering fuel odors, repeat the treatment or soak the garment in a baking soda and water solution overnight. Wash it as usual afterward.
If your clothes have a strong odor, fill the washing machine, deep laundry sink, or plastic tub with warm water and non-sudsing household ammonia and soak them overnight. Keep the washer lid shut or cover the tub and sink, if possible. Drain the washer the following day and wash the garment as usual. DO NOT USE ANY CHLORINE BLEACH during the soaking or washing. Mixing ammonia with bleach creates toxic fumes.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Use as much baking soda and vinegar as you would detergent to create a soaking solution. Both products are natural deodorizers and cleaning agents that are good at breaking down oils. The vinegar reacts with the baking powder and penetrates deep inside the fabric. Leave the clothing to soak for 15 minutes before rinsing off.
Tip: If the diesel smell is too strong, you may need to repeat the procedure a few times to remove it.
Coca Cola and Baking Soda
A combination of Coke and baking soda can work wonders in removing diesel odor and stains from clothes. Coke acts as a degreaser. A degreaser is a chemical product that dissolves water-insoluble substances, such as greases and oils. On the other hand, baking soda absorbs odors rather than mask them like most commercial air fresheners.
Mix one cup of industrial degreaser with water in a tub or washer and soak the clothes in the solution for about two hours. Doing so breaks down the oils in the fuel. Drain the water, rinse the clothes and refill the tab or washer with clean water and pour in a 2-liter bottle of Coke and one box of baking soda. Let it soak for about 12 to 24 hours.
Rubbing Alcohol and Baking Soda
Baking soda is effective at absorbing smells and alcohol evaporates quickly making this an ideal combo for removing diesel stains on clothes. Sprinkle baking soda on the stained area, douse it with rubbing alcohol, and rub the paste into the clothing.
This method is especially beneficial if the diesel soaks into car upholstery. The reason being, rubbing alcohol will not soak into the material, leaving it susceptible to mold issues. If there is no stain and you are only looking to remove the diesel smell, you can use rubbing alcohol alone.
For this, you will need to pour half a cup of rubbing alcohol in a half-gallon bucket of water. Soak the diesel-reeking clothes in the solution for 20 minutes then wash.
Yes, mouthwash! It may seem bizarre, but Listerine is a surprisingly effective deodorizer. As a matter of fact, it is traditionally used by professional firefighters to remove the smell of smoke and soot from their uniforms.
Pour some alcohol-based mouthwash in your washer and wash the clothes as usual. Check them for odors afterward and repeat the same treatment if necessary. Alternatively, douse the area with the mouthwash and let it sit for 15 minutes. It will eat away any odors that are stuck in the material.
Whichever method you follow, do not place the clothes in a dryer if there is still some lingering fuel odor. The dryer’s heat can cause them to burst into flames! If a faint diesel smell remains, air-dry on an indoor drying rack or clothesline. Air-drying also helps to remove odors.
How to Remove Diesel Fuel From Your Hands
You can also remove diesel fuel smell from your hands using Fast Orange. Fast Orange is a hand cleaner available on Amazon, at Walmart, or in most auto parts stores. While it is specifically made to clean grease and diesel off of hands, it also works well on clothes. And it is even safe to put in your washing machine.
You can also use Listerine to remove diesel smell from your hands. The mouthwash can be found at your local grocery store and for a cheap price.
How to Remove Diesel Fuel From Car Carpet and Upholstery
Large diesel spills in your car trunk or on your carpet at home will likely saturate the padding located underneath your carpet and, therefore, require professional care. In most instances, it will call for carpet and pad replacement. However, for small stains, follow these steps:
- Blot the spill with paper towels to absorb as much liquid fuel as possible, then dispose of them safely.
- Sprinkle baking soda or kitty litter on the stained area to help absorb more diesel and the odor. Leave the absorbent material there for at least 4 hours, then vacuum it up with a shop vac. If it becomes damp at any point, vacuum it up, sprinkle on some more, and let it sit overnight, then vacuum.
- To one cup of warm water, mix in a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. Work in the solution into the stained area with a soft-bristled brush from the edge of the stain toward the center to avoid spreading the stain.
- Blot the area with paper towels, then rinse with a sponge or cloth dipped in plain water. Allow the treated area to air dry, then vacuum the carpet to restore pile. If the stain remains, repeat the treatment.
Keeping your car ventilated will help rid it of any lingering diesel odors. Also, in addition to baking soda, coffee grounds and deactivated charcoal will help absorb the odor. Put some in a plastic bowl under the driver and passenger seat for added air filters.
Top 9 FAQs for removing diesel fuel
How do you clean up diesel fuel?
Combine hot water, ammonia, sodium carbonate (also called washing soda) and vinegar in a clean empty one-gallon container. Shake the jug until the parts are completely mixed. Then use it to scrub the surface where the diesel was spilled. This should clean the area as well as eliminate most odors.
What does diesel fuel smell like?
If you compare regular gasoline to diesel fuel, you will notice a difference in the odor. They also feel different to the touch. Diesel fuel has a thicker viscosity making it feel more oily. Similar to oil, diesel fuel does not evaporate into a gaseous state like gasoline will do. Do to diesel having a thicker viscosity, a gallon of diesel is around a pound heavier than a gallon of gasoline.
How do you neutralize diesel fuel?
To neutralize diesel fuel, start by laying mothballs around the area that had the diesel spill. Wash your clothes in the alcohol-based Listerine as an additional step. Open a can of coffee grounds in the room that smells like diesel. Place a few cans of coffee grounds around the room to cover the smell.
If you are wondering where to throw your gasoline read this -> How to dispose of old gasoline?
The solutions in this guide can help you remove diesel fuel from your clothes, home, and car. Diesel is a widely used fuel and sooner or later you will spill some. The smell is very strong and unpleasant. Always use as much caution as possible to avoid spilling and waste.
I hope one of these methods will help you to finally remove that diesel stain and or smell that’s been nagging you. Good Luck!