A Quick Hack for Getting the Diesel Smell Out of Clothing

Woman pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station.

You’ve been working on your vehicle,  and now your clothes are saturated with a diesel smell. Or, you accidentally spilled diesel on your clothes, causing a stain and you can’t seem to get the smell out. Should you throw the clothes away? No! They’re still (mostly) completely salvageable.

Below are the 10 best tricks I’ve found to remove diesel smell from clothing and preserve their wearability. With any luck, these tips can help you preserve your favorite work or hunting clothes.

Like gasoline, diesel is a petrol based chemical that can sometimes be difficult to remove, especially from fabrics like denim, for this very reason. A good neutralizer can go a long way to help remove the smell of diesel from fabric.

First, it is important to note that the diesel smell can linger if not treated properly. If you’re having trouble doing so, not to worry; the tips below will have you covered. Naturally, some of these tips will likely work better for you than others; various factors including level of saturation and staining will all play a part in how easy or difficult it is to remove diesel smell (and stains) from clothing.

  • Baking soda

First, spray down the saturated clothing with a water hose. Next, to a gallon of hot water, add 1 cup of baking soda and about half a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap, and mix to combine. Add your clothes and soak for about an hour in the mixture, and rinse again with a water hose. Then, wash in a heavy cycle in your washing machine, making sure not to add any other clothes to the wash cycle. You might have to repeat this a couple of times, depending on the strength of the smell, particularly if you have any stains.

  • Mechanic’s Hand Soap

Rinse out the clothing in hot water in order to get most of the smell out. Then, pre wash your clothing with mechanics hand soap and let soak in hot water for an hour. Remove from the water and rinse, and wash your clothes in a hot water cycle.

  • Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent neutralizer, and can often be used to get smells out of clothing. First, rinse the clothes in hot water. Then, to a gallon of hot water, add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Let the clothes soak for at least an hour, then rinse and wash in a high heat setting cycle. You can also add about 2 tbsp of baking soda to the water, if you want to boost the neutralizing ability.

  • Baking soda paste

If a stain is causing the odor, you can make a paste out of baking soda and vinegar, and scrub into the stain. Let sit at least an hour, then rinse. Add vinegar to your wash cycle instead of fabric softener, and wash on the hottest setting.

  • Listerine

Add Listerine to a spray bottle, and saturate your clothing in it. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse in hot water. Wash on your hottest setting. You can add vinegar instead of fabric softener for this step as well.

  • Coffee and baking soda

Specifically if the smell is coming from a stain, you can make a paste out of baking soda, coffee, and water, and apply to the stain. Let sit for an hour, then rinse with hot water and wash. In the past, I have found this to be more effective on gasoline versus diesel, so you would probably have to try this for a longer soaking period.

  • Enzyme treatment

Again, for diesel stains causing the smell, you can use a high performance laundry detergent directly on the stain, and let it soak for an hour. Use a toothbrush to scrub it into the stain before letting it soak. Rinse off with hot water and wash in a hot water cycle.

  • All purpose orange cleaner

Add a few drops of orange cleaner to a gallon of hot water, and let the clothes soak for up to an hour. Rinse with hot water, and wash in a hot water cycle with a good detergent.

  • Citrus essential oil

You can use your favorite lemon, orange, or bergamot essential oil to get rid of the smell of diesel. To a gallon of hot water, add 1 cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of essential oil. Let the clothes soak for an hour, then rinse out and wash in a heavy setting in the washing machine.

  • Ammonia

In a gallon of hot water, add two cups of ammonia and soak the clothes for two to three hours, depending on the severity of the smell. Then, rinse in hot water, and wash in your washing machine on the heaviest setting. You can also add vinegar instead of fabric softener for extra neutralization to further remove any diesel smell from your clothing.

55744475 – clothes in washing machine

Last little bit…

It is important to note that these methods might not work for everyone and some might be more difficult to do than others, especially if you’re doing a lot of work and don’t immediately have access to a washing machine. The best success I’ve had when removing a diesel smell from clothing usually involves rinsing the clothes heavily before using any of the treatment options above.

For set in smells, I highly recommend using a mix of 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of Dawn dish soap to a gallon of hot water. Let the clothes soak and then rinse in hot water before trying any other steps. Since diesel is a petroleum based chemical, it usually takes a good neutralizer to remove any smells and stains before you can run the clothes through a wash cycle.

Hopefully, these tips will help you in the event that you wind up with diesel smells (or stains) in clothing. Most of these will also work for gasoline smell/stains as well, since they’re both petroleum based products. Remember to use a hot water washing cycle on your clothes and you might have to repeat a step, if the smell of diesel is strong and soaked into your clothes.

Good luck!