Removing Diesel Smell from Wood

If diesel fuel has been spilled on a piece of wooden furniture or wooden flooring or construction, the odors and fumes may remain a long time. Odor absorbing materials like baking soda, charcoal and kitty litter can help to minimize the smell but it could be difficult to remove it entirely.


May 26, 2021

I have three pieces of furniture that were exposed to diesel fumes from a garage. They were exposed for about an hour. I can not smell it now, but would like to know if diesel fume exposure dissipates, or if anyone knows if it does before I bring the desk in the house.

Or does anyone know if there is a way to actually make sure the fumes have evaporated from the wood?


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May 27, 20211 found this helpful
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Difficult to know exactly what you mean by 'exposed' but whether it can be removed and how, will probably depend a lot by just how it was exposed (in the area, near the furniture, blowing on the pieces, etc), and the type of finish on the furniture.


I would suggest you do all cleaning suggestions in an open room - open windows, run AC, use fans to pull/draw air out the window.

Gather your materials before you begin so you do not have to 'hunt' as you want to do this as quickly as possible.
I always start with alcohol - wash/wipe the complete item with 70% alcohol - pour alcohol in a pot/bowl/pan and wipe with clean cloths - do not redip cloth in clean alcohol - use new rags. If shortage of rags, rinse dirty rags and lay out to dry. Usually paper towels will not work very well but if necessary give it a try.
You will probably have some very dirty rags as this will also remove other coatings that may be on your furniture.
Be sure to open drawers and wipe all around the front piece.

Some people use a mixture/solution of equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and water. But you may have to wipe this with clean water to remove the solution. Be sure to only use damp cloths - no dripping wet cloths.


Other options:
Liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent
Ammonia - this must be used very carefully as ammonia emits fumes that can be dangerous to breath
Orange cleaner
Orange hand cleaner


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March 9, 2017

I purchased a cedar quilt chest from a yard sale. After getting it home, I noticed a diesel smell coming from it. It appears someone possibly stored a diesel can on top of it for a while, that leaked, causing a slight stain and foul odor.

Any ideas how to remove the diesel smell from the wood?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
March 9, 20170 found this helpful

I would try Nok-Out. You can get it on Amazon.

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
March 9, 20170 found this helpful

Orange Glo is safe for cedar and is good against diesel smells.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
March 9, 20170 found this helpful

It needs to be aired out good, for sure. Does it feel oily? If so, baking soda over the oily spots will help soak up the oil.


Once it gets soaked into the wood though, I doubt it will come out.

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March 10, 20170 found this helpful

You say that a diesel can might have been set on top of this chest, so, does that mean the odor is on the outside and not on the inside? I would hope the odor is on the outside.
If the odor is on the outside you could try to absorb the residue with baking soda, fine coffee grounds, cat urine smell remover, or even a mechanic's hand soap (GoJo hand Cleaner I use for greasy spots). You can then try lightly sanding with fine sandpaper to return the wood to its natural odor. It may take several times to remove all of the odor.


If the odor is on the inside - sad, sad - as I do not believe you would ever be able to remove the odor completely which means that anything you store would have that slight odor. Odors like this tend to come and go so when closed up the odor intensifies.
The first thing to do of course is to leave the chest open as long as possible before trying any remedy. If there is an oil stain here then you could try the removal suggestions from above.
There are all sorts of suggestions for removing odors from wood but being closed up is still questionable.
Here are remedies I have used for removing odors from closed containers including my cedar chests: Most of them have to be left for days to weeks to have any success and will require a light sanding with fine sandpaper to bring back the cedar smell.

box of baking soda sprinkled inside; crumbled newspapers and charcoal cubes; plain coffee grounds; cedar oil; kitty litter; Murphy's oil soap

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March 14, 20170 found this helpful

As near as I remember, it did not have an oily residue. I had put it into a storage shed because I couldn't stand the odor in the house, but I'd like to start using it if I can.

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March 14, 20170 found this helpful

I purchased it a few months ago, so I wish I had thought of these ideas when I put it into the storage shed. I couldn't stand the smell in the house. As near as I remember, the smell is on the outside only. There was a slight discoloration, but I don't think there was an oily residue. I didn't smell it at the time that I bought it, but once it was closed up in the car on the way home, it was very noticeable. I will probably try all the above suggestions because I really want to be able to use it. Thanks a bunch!

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