Cleaning Diesel Fuel Odors From Inside a Car?

January 23, 2005

cleaning a car interiorMy husband brought diesel home from the garage in a can and it spilt in the car. The result is the back seat is saturated and the car is absolutely stinking. Does anyone have any advice on how to get rid of odour and stain?




By sharon (Guest Post)
January 24, 20054 found this helpful
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My husband is a heavy equipment mechanic and his clothes always smelled like diesel no matter what I used to clean them. One day I was reading one of my online newsletters and someone had written in that an insurance adjuster had told her to clean her household items with Listerine after a fire, and the smell would be gone. He said it would remove almost any odor. I tried it on my husband's clothes and it works great. Now I never wash them without it. I was thinking if your spill is a small one, saturating a paper towel or something like it with Listerine and leaving it in the car for a while might help. It's worth a try. Hope this helps, Sharon

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3 More Questions

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April 14, 2013

How do you remove diesel fuel smell from clothes and trunk of car?

By Sheila


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April 22, 20131 found this helpful
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A thick layer of cat litter in the car will absorb the odor, you may need to repeat the application several times to completely rid the space of the smell.


Simply pour the cat litter over the spot, leave it at least 24 hours and then vacuum or sweep up. If you still smell diesel, repeat the application until the odor is gone. It does work-I've had to do it a few times myself and can vouch for the success.

The clothes are a loss. You can't wash the diesel (or any flammable material on fabric) out, and it's dangerous to try because the fabric may ignite if exposed to heat whilst machine drying or even wearing.

I've been there-done that, and it's upsetting to have to throw out clothing that's been splashed with petrol or oil. But it's the safest thing in the situation.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 205 Posts
April 22, 20130 found this helpful
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As the wife of a trucker, I used to have this problem.
One way I use to remove that distinctive diesel odor is to lay a baby wipe in his drawer. Baby wipes tend to absorb diesel odors better than any other product I've found.


Another use for the baby wipes is to get 5th wheel grease off his hands and clothes. We discovered this not long after he started driving. Baby wipes are the ONLY thing that will remove that stubborn 5th wheel grease.

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July 3, 2021

What is the best way to get diesel fuel out of carpet in a car?


Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 425 Answers
July 3, 20211 found this helpful
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First off, using clean rags or lots of paper towels, blot up as much fuel as you can. Also, if you can access under the carpeting, check if the padding underneath has diesel soaked in too, and if so, your problem just got bigger. Here is some info I found that I hope will help:


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 theres 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, youre going to need a professional cleaner. Of course, if its the floorboard mats, then you can just cheaply replace those.

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

Use paper towels to soak up as much of the fuel spill as possible, then safely dispose of them.


Once youve soaked up as much diesel as possible, sprinkle some baking soda over the area making sure thats all covered.
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.
Use a shop vac to vacuum up the baking soda once the time period has passed.
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.
Once done, use paper towels to soak up the moisture again.
Use a clean sponge or cloth in clean water to rinse the cleaner from the area. Then, dry again with paper towels.

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 doesnt 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. Im also fan of Odoban, which you can buy at Home Depot.

I hope this helps yu get your carpet clean.

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December 17, 2011

We recently left for 6 weeks and put the car in the garage. Unfortunately, it picked up a strong odor of diesel (the lawn mower was in there as well). The car has leather upholstery and it seemed to absorb the odor. So far the only thing that helps is leaving the windows down overnight, but it is cold and we get lots of storms this time of year. The odor comes back after the car is closed up. I am quite sensitive to this odor and do not want to have to get rid of the car! Please help.

By Mary R


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December 19, 20110 found this helpful
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You can try a couple of things:

*small shallow bowls of straight vinegar set on the floorboards overnight (maybe for a few days if needed)

*cat litter (the absorbent kind) about three inches deep in a shoe box, again left overnight or even for a few days

I think, too, that there is a deodoriser wipe for leather, look in the car care section of a big-box store, or in an auto supply store.

Good luck, I hope if the thoughts I have don't work that you find something soon that will!

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