Learn How To Clean Spilled Diesel In Easy Steps

When you are working with heavy machinery or on cars every day, it is pretty common that there is a diesel spill on your clothes. Not only there is a big black stain on your favourite shirt, but there is a stinky smell that you can’t get rid of. It travels with you everywhere, especially when you work with diesel every day.

Hand holding clothes with diesel stains

It is crucial that you clean it; otherwise, your clothes are more likely to be flammable. The stains don’t come off in one wash. It takes multiple cleaning solutions on the affected area to completely remove the stain. Don’t worry, though; we have the solution you need to be free of the stains.

Removing diesel spots from clothes

First of all, check the material of the garment. If it is labelled “dry clean only”, then instead of spending time on it to remove the stains, take it directly to your dry cleaners. You don’t want to damage your outfit even more. Check the source of the spill before you start to treat it, as every stain has a different way of cleaning it. In case it is silk upholstery or any other vintage cloth, talk to a professional to preserve the clothing. Here are a few cleaning tips that you can use to treat your diesel fuel spill

Solvent-based stain remover

Apply the solvent-based stain remover on the spilt diesel stain, or you can use the enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent. Scrub the diesel stain with a soft bristle brush and leave it for fifteen minutes. After that, wash it with warm water

Once it is dry, check if the cloth still smells of diesel. If yes, then repeat the process. Soak it in water and soda solution for the night and the following day, wash it with hot water.

Non-sudsing ammonia 

Do your clothes have that strong diesel fuel odour? If yes, then soak the cloth in mellow water and non-sudsing household ammonia in a water tub or a laundry sink and cover the tub. Keep it in for the entire night and then drain the tub.  Wash the garment with hot water and hang it to air dry. Ensure you don’t mix chlorine bleach in the solution since a mixture of ammonia and bleach creates toxic fumes.

Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda is a known cleaning agent that can remove grease stains and oil spills from clothes. And along with vinegar, they can work wonders when cleaning spilled diesel. Soda will be used as an alternative to a detergent, and vinegar will be used instead of water. Together they will create a cleaning solution, and you need to soak the fabric in it for fifteen minutes. Then wash it with hot water.

a bottle of vinegar next to a jar of baking soda

If the smell of fuel oil is overwhelming, repeat the process a couple more times till it is gone. 

Rubbing alcohol and soda

It has been established that baking soda is your ultimate friend that will help you clean up the diesel spillages. You may not know, though,  that rubbing alcohol is a great cleaning agent and is used to remove hard stains from clothes, like acrylic paint or ink stains. Therefore, combining soda and rubbing alcohol will create a powerful cleaning agent that can work well in this case. Apply baking soda on the oil stains, then drench it with rubbing alcohol and scrub the paste on the fabric until it is removed. 

If your upholstery only has a diesel smell, then all you need to do is soak it in rubbing alcohol and half a bucket of water and let it soak in for 20 minutes. After that, you can wash it with clean water. Although if it is a small spill, you need to follow the process above with baking soda till your clothes are back to their original selves.

Liquid dish soap

This procedure takes a few more extra steps than all the other steps, but if you don’t want to spend money on getting extra supplies, you can just the dishwashing soap in the kitchen and begin diesel spill clean up

First, you need to put a cardboard piece underneath the cloth. Then take a piece of dry cloth and press over the stain so excess fuel spill is removed and it doesn’t spread to the clean areas. Now, take the dish soap and apply it directly to the affected area. Scrub it with your fingers or with a toothbrush that has soft bristles. Keep it soaked in for five to ten minutes. 

After that, all you need to do is wash your garment and air dry it. Don’t dry the fabric in the tumble dryer as the high temperature could make the stain permanent. If the stain is still there, repeat the process a couple of times. 


If you tried almost all the methods, but that strong smell of diesel is just not leaving your clothes, then give it a wash with an alcohol-based mouthwash in the washing machine. See if the odour is gone; if not, repeat the wash cycle a couple of times. 

a man wearing a purple shirt holds a bottle of mouthwash

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a washing machine, you can soak the area in the mouthwash for fifteen minutes, and it will make your clothes smell like mint and not fuel oil

Any method you choose, make sure you don’t dry them in the tumble dryer. The diesel spots are flammable, and clothes can burst into flames with the heat in the dryer. Always air dry it either in the house or on a clothing line.

Removing diesel stains from carpet

If there is a large spill on the carpet, it may require professional attention. However, if it is a small spill, you can take care of it on your own with just a few items that you can find around the house.

a clean carpet in a living room next to a sofa

First, you need paper towels and absorb as much excess fuel from the carpet. After that, you spatter some baking soda or kitty litter on the affected spot, which will absorb the smell and fuel. Let the absorbent material be there for about four hours. Next, pick up the absorbent material using a vacuum cleaner and see if it is gone. If it is damp, apply the material to the stained area again and leave it overnight. Then vacuum again in the morning.

Once you are done with that, take a cup of mellow water and mix dish soap or liquid dishwashing detergent. Apply it to the stained area and scrub with a soft bristle brush. Make sure to rub it from the edge to the centre, so it doesn’t spread to the clean areas. Clean it with paper towels dipped in clean water. Let the area air dry before and then vacuum. If the stain is still there, repeat the process couple of times. Keep the windows open to air out the smell


How do you clean up the diesel fuel?

To clean up the stained area, you need a cleaning solution. You can make one at home with warm water, ammonia, baking soda and vinegar. Mix it all up, scrub the area with the mixture, and let it soak for twenty minutes. After that, wash it with clean water. Once it is dry, check if the stain is still there; if yes, repeat the process.

What does diesel smell like? 

Compared to gasoline, diesel is thicker in viscosity and has a different smell. Gasoline evaporates easily since it is in a gaseous state, whereas diesel is liquid. 

How to neutralise the fuel odour?

The fuel smell can be overwhelming. You can get rid of it by washing the clothes with some mouthwash in an extra step. You can also put out a bowl of coffee grounds that can cover up the smell.

close up of a spilled diesel on jeans

It is quite common to have diesel spills in the house since it is a common fuel to be used in the machinery around the house and the car. The smell and the stain can be unbearable, but this guide will help you bring life back to your clothes and your carpet. All you need is some household items, and everything will be good as new!

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