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How To Get Diesel Fuel Out Of Clothes, Your Hands, Carpet & Upholstery

If you’ve got a diesel vehicle, then there are probably times when you end up with that strong diesel smell in your clothes.

Growing up, whenever my dad would come in the house after tinkering on his truck, he would smell strongly of diesel.

So, how do you get this pungent smell out of your clothing? Well, there’s lots of tricks out there using things like Listerine and my mom’s favorite, Fast Orange.

We’ll go over each method of removing diesel from clothes below. (and yes, it works for regular gasoline and kerosene on clothing too!)

But here’s the thing about getting diesel fuel on your clothing – it not only smells really bad, but it stains your clothing and makes your washing machine smell bad too. We’ve got some tips on fixing all of that too.

And, if you’ve gotten the fuel on your hands, or some carpet or upholstery, then we’ve got some tips on removing that as well.

WARNING: Do not put any clothing in your tumble dryer that still has diesel on it because it may catch fire!

5 Ways To Remove Diesel Smell From Clothes

Since you don’t want to walk around smelling like a truck stop, let’s work on getting that pungent fuel smell out of your clothing ASAP.

We’ll start with a few things that you probably already have in the house, and then move on to a specialty product that works for my family.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

This little miracle cleaning combo works on tons of spills and stains, including diesel fuel. And bonus points for it being an all natural cleaning solution.

With these two items you’re going to create a soaking solution to put the clothing in. How much do you need?

Well, that depends on how much clothing you need to soak in it.

The rule of thumb here is to use enough to create your soaking solution as you would if you were using laundry detergent.

So, mix in a bit of water and equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar – just make sure you’re mot creating one of those middle school volcanoes!

What you need:

  • Something to soak the clothing in
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Some water

Leave the clothing soaking in it for at least 15 minutes, but longer is better.

The baking soda and vinegar work together to break down oils from the the fabric. Plus, they are natural deodorizers, so they penetrate the fabric to neutralize that stinky fuel odor.

If the clothing still smells after taking it out of the solution, then you make need to soak it a few more times. And for longer periods.

Still not working? Try out next tip and see if it does the trick.

2. Coca Cola and Baking Soda

In addition to tasting great with pizza, you can use Coca Cola to clean all sorts of interesting things – including your diesel fuel soaked clothing.

For it to work against diesel fuel, you need to combine it with the baking soda.

In this solution, the Coca Cola acts as the degreaser and the baking soda works to neutralize the odor.

What you need:

  • Something to soak the clothing in
  • One two-liter bottle of Coca Cola
  • Baking soda (one box)
  • One cup of stain-fighting laundry detergent (I prefer Tide) or degreaser
  • Warm water

Once you get all the ingredients, here are the steps to take for this method:

  1. Put clothing in the soaking tub and cover with warm water and the laundry detergent/degreaser.
  2. Leave soaking for two – three hours to break down the oils.
  3. Dump the water, rinse the clothing, and put back it in the tub and refill with warm water.
  4. Add the bottle of Coca Cola and the box of baking soda to the tub and mix well.
  5. Leave soaking overnight, or 12 to 24 hours for the best results.

This method works well for those stubborn diesel stains, but if it still doesn’t work for you then keep reading for our next method.

3. Listerine

I know what you’re thinking – can something that you put in your mouth really work on diesel fuel stains, and if so should you really be using it in your mouth?

Both good questions, with the answers being yes and I don’t know.

Here’s what you need to know about Listerine – firefighters apparently use it to remove the smoke smell from their clothing.

Crazy, huh? But apparently it works, so why not try it if you’re having a hard time getting the diesel out of your shirts, pants, and other attire.

Unlike the other methods, with this one you actually put your clothing in the washing machine and pour in the Listerine to wash the clothing with.

We suggest that you pour some of the Listerine on the affected areas and let it soak for 15 minutes before you put the clothing in the washing machine.

Then, do your laundry as usual (with your detergent), and just add in a couple of portions of Listerine.

4. Dawn Dish Liquid

If your house is anything like mine, then you keep a bottle of Dawn dish liquid on hand just for tough spills and stains.

This is stuff is a miracle cleaner, and yes, it works on diesel and gasoline on clothing as well.

Using this to remove the fuel spill smells and stains is pretty simple.

  • Soak the clothing for 12-24 hours in a tub of water with a healthy amount of Dawn dish liquid
  • Rinse and then wash in your washing machine as your normally do (I prefer using Tide for stains like this)

Simple, cheap, and effective. Honestly, I’m not sure any stains or spills exist that can’t be fixed with a bit of Dawn!

5. Fast Orange

Growing up, this right here was a staple in our laundry room thanks to my dad always coming home greasy and smelling like diesel fuel.

Permatex 23218 Fast Orange Smooth Lotion Hand Cleaner with Pump, 1 Gallon

If you’ve never heard of this before, then that’s because it’s more of an industrial hand cleaner that’s used by mechanics and other works in greasy industries.

Best of all, it is a biodegradable, waterless, petroleum solvent-free hand cleaner. And, it has a citrus smell, hence the name.

This stuff comes in a “smooth” or a “pumice” variety – definitely make sure you buy the smooth version because the other one can damage the clothing fibers.

With this stuff, you just need to work in some of the cleaner into the stained areas before putting the clothing in the washing machine. Do your laundry as your normally do.

I think you’ll find that this stuff works 100% of the time, at least it did my household!

In my opinion, this is the best-proven method available to get the diesel smell out of clothes.

Housekeeping Tips : How to Wash Out Diesel From Clothes

How To Remove Diesel Fuel From Leather Boots?

Spill a bit of diesel on your shoes while you were working in the garage? Well, if you’re wearing leather shoes, then we can give you some tips on how to get diesel fuel out of leather boots.

  1. Mix 1 tbsp of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water until you get a paste-like substance.
  2. Use a soft toothbrush to work the paste into the stain on the surface of the leather boots.
  3. Leave the paste to dry on the stain for 12-24 hours.
  4. Brush the dry paste off with the dry toothbrush. For what you can’t remove that way, remove with a wet, clean toothbrush and leave to dry.

If that didn’t work, then I suggest trying a small amount of Dawn dish liquid instead of the paste.

Use the same directions as above, except substitute the Dawn for the paste.

How To Remove Diesel Smell From Your Washing Machine

If you tried washing that smelly clothing before removing the smell and stain, then you may find yourself with a washing machine that reeks of fuel.

Not to worry, you can get that smell out with some common household items!

Things that you can use:

  • White vinegar
  • Listerine
  • Pine-sol
  • Mr Clean

Any of the above items work well at removing the fuel smell from your washing machine, but do note that you may need to do more than one cycle with the vinegar.

Basically, just a run a full cycle in the laundry machine with 2 cups of your preferred cleaner above instead of detergent.

In my household, we prefer to use Listerine but all of the above will work and remove that smell from the washing machine tub.

You can also use Dawn dishwashing detergent, but I don’t really recommend it because it suds so much that you can end up with a real soapy mess on the floor of your laundry room.

Drying Your Previously Diesel-Stained Clothing

I’m sure you noticed our warning above about drying your clothing in your normal tumble clothes dryer.

It is very important that you don’t put anything in your dryer that still smells of fuel because it seriously may catch fire.

If you even think that some diesel may still be in the clothing, then it’s a good idea to either dry it indoors on a drying rack or to line dry it outside.

Keep in mind that air drying is also an effective way to remove odors from clothing.

How to Remove Diesel Fuel From Your Hands

If you’re been working on a car, then you might have gotten some diesel fuel on your hands.

Luckily, removing it is pretty simple and requires the same stuff that you need for your clothing.


Just like with your clothing, you can wash your hands with Listerine to remove the diesel fuel smell from them. 

You may need to plug your sink and fill it with some Listerine to soak them for a few minutes.

Dawn Dish Liquid

My favorite household miracle cleaner can also be use to stop your hands from smelling like diesel or gasoline.

Like the Listerine, just wash your hands with the Dawn dish liquid. You may need to plug your sink and fill it with some Dawn to soak them for a few minutes.

Fast Orange

Hands down the easiest way to remove the diesel, kerosene, and gasoline from your hands it os use this specialized hand cleaner.

It’s the most effective way to remove diesel from your skin – plus, it’s not a harsh cleaner.

How to Remove Diesel Fuel From Carpet and Upholstery

If you managed to get diesel on your clothing and yourself while working on a car, then there’s a pretty good chance that you got it on the car carpet or upholstery. We can help you with that.

For a large spill, you need to determine if it soaked right through it.

For instance, if you were working in the trunk, did the padding in the back get completely soaked? Or did the floorboard mats get soaked?

For something that got completely soaked right through, you’re going to need a professional cleaner.

Of course, if it’s the floorboard mats, then you can just cheaply replace those.

For smaller spills, you can take steps to clean it up on your own. Here’s what we suggest:

  1. Use paper towels to soak up as much of the fuel spill as possible, then safely dispose of them.
  2. Once you’ve soaked up as much diesel as possible, sprinkle some baking soda over the area making sure that’s all covered.
  3. Leave the baking soda there to absorb the odors for 5-6 hours. If you notice that the baking soda gets damp, use a shop vac to vacuum it up and use more paper towels to soak up more fuel. Them re-apply the baking soda.
  4. Use a shop vac to vacuum up the baking soda once the time period has passed.
  5. Mix together one cup of warm water and some Dawn dish liquid (or Fast Orange). Use a bristle brush to apply this cleaning solution to the stain, working from the edges to the center of the stain.
  6. Once done, use paper towels to soak up the moisture again.
  7. Use a clean sponge or cloth in clean water to “rinse” the cleaner from the area. Then, dry again with paper towels.
  8. Let it sit for 12 to 24 hours to dry. You can then use the shop vac to go over the area and restore the pile in the carpet.

If this doesn’t remove the stain, then you can repeat the cleaning process again until it does.

For stubborn odors, you can leave the windows down to air out the vehicle.

You can also use more baking soda or activated charcoal. I’m also fan of Odoban, which you can buy at Home Depot.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several effective methods for removing that terrible fuel smell and stain from your clothing.

And plenty of the items you can use are things that you probably already have at home.

If you are regularly getting diesel, gasoline, or kerosene on your clothing, then we suggest that you buy some Fast Orange to keep in your laundry room for the most effective removal of the fuel stains and odor.