Cleaning diesel stains from your clothing can be easy, but not everybody knows how to get diesel smell out of clothes.
Oil and gas seep fast into clothes, creating ugly stains and leaving nasty smells that destroy your clothes. And the worst thing is you can’t get rid of diesel just from washing. Dry cleaning may get the job done, but the costs can rapidly pile up.
Fortunately, you can remove diesel smells from your favorite piece of clothing with everyday household items. So take a look at the tips down below and try them out for yourself.
Why Does Diesel Smell So Bad?
Diesel smells bad because it contains sulfur (1). If you haven’t smelled sulfur before, most people say the smell is similar to rotten eggs. It’s awful!
Additionally, the particles in diesel emissions are tiny, making them readily respirable. These particles can stick to the fibers of your clothes, making it very hard to get rid of them all.
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Breathing in diesel is also bad for your health. Short-term exposure can cause coughing, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, lung irritation. Long-term exposure can even increase the risk for asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, or brain and immune system issues (2).
8 Easy Ways To Get Diesel Smell Out Of Clothes
In this section, I shall give you 8 different methods to effectively get rid of diesel smell. So based on your preference and available products, choose the one that you like the most and give it a try!
Remember that I will focus on removing the smell of diesel. If your clothes still have a stain, you should pretreat it by pouring baking soda on the area. Take a brush and scrub it until the baking soda stops balling up. Then rinse off the baking soda and diesel residue before moving on.
1. Vinegar And Baking Soda
The first method requires some baking soda and white distilled vinegar. Avoid using vinegar with color since it might dye your clothes.
Step 1: Soak It With Vinegar
Fill your sink with water and stir in a cup of white vinegar. Then fully submerge your clothes in the mixture. Allow it to soak for 1 hour or overnight. The longer you wait, the better.
Step 2: Wash It With Vinegar And Baking Soda
Put your clothes in the washing machine with your favorite detergent. Then add ½ cup of vinegar and 7 ounces of baking soda to the washer. Afterward, run a cycle with the hottest water setting that is safe for your clothes.
Step 3: Dry It
Don’t put the clothes in the tumble dryer if they still smell like diesel. If the diesel still lingers on your clothes, it can cause a fire!
Dry the clothes under the sun so the UV rays can deodorize your clothes. But if that option is not available to you, hanging them indoors on a drying rack is also okay.
Learn more about how to eliminate diesel smell using baking soda and vinegar!
2. Rubbing Alcohol And Baking Soda
Rubbing alcohol works as an excellent degreaser that can lift the smell of diesel from your clothes. When it is combined with baking soda, its odor-removing ability will be boosted.
Step 1: Soak It With Rubbing Alcohol
You can apply rubbing alcohol on the area and allow it to soak through. Rest it for 1 hour.
Step 2: Wash It With Rubbing Alcohol and Baking Soda
Wash your clothes in the washing machine with ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and half a 14 oz box of baking soda (roughly 1 cup). Use the hottest water setting for the best result.
Step 3: Dry It
If you can, hang your clothes to dry under direct sunlight. Do not use the tumble dryer if the smell remains.
3. Heavy-Duty Detergent
Nowadays, many brands offer solvent-based heavy-duty detergent that can eliminate lingering odors with ease. Remember not to use them frequently since strong detergents can weaken the fibers of your clothes.
Step 1: Soak It With Detergent
Fill a bucket with water and a few tablespoons of detergent. Then soak your clothes in the mixture for 1 hour.
Step 2: Wash It
Pour the contents of the bucket (the clothes and the soapy water) into the washing machine. Run a cycle with the hottest (but safest) water setting. Add more detergent to your washer if needed.
Step 3: Dry It
Air dry your clothes or hang them under the sun. Check to see if the smell remains after drying. If it does, wash them one more time. Sometimes the fragrance from the detergent can make it difficult to notice the smell right after washing.
4. Coca-Cola And Baking Soda
Baking soda comes to the rescue again. And this time, we will pair it with Coca-Cola!
You might find this odd, but trust me, people have been using Coke to clean stains from clothes since forever. The citric acid in Coke can break down the diesel particles, making it easier to remove them in the washing process.
Step 1: Soak It With Detergent
Soak your clothes in a sink filled with warm water and 1 cup of detergent. Let it sit for 2 hours, then rinse and drain the water.
Step 2: Soak It With Coke And Baking Soda
Fill your sink with water again and pour in 2 liters of Coke and a whole 14 oz box of baking soda. Mix it up and soak your clothes in the solution for at least 12 hours.
Step 3: Wash It
Give your clothes a rinse and put them in the washer. Wash your clothes the usual way using the hottest water temperature.
Step 4: Dry It
Allow your clothes to dry on a drying rack or preferably outside.
Let’s see how you can use Coca-cola to remove diesel smell from clothes!
5. Mechanic Hand Soap
Mechanic soap is designed to remove oil and grease from your skin. And it’s not surprising to know that it can also break down diesel residue on fabric and eliminate the smell.
Step 1: Wash It With Mechanic Soap
Fill your washing machine with water and pour 1 tablespoon of soap in it. If the stain is still visible on your clothes, rub a tiny bit of soap directly on the stain as well. Afterward, wash your clothes with the hottest (and safest) water setting.
Check to see whether the odor is still there after the cycle. If it does, give it another wash with ½ cup of baking soda.
Step 2: Dry It
Sun-drying your clothes is recommended. Or you can hang them on a drying rack if you can’t hang them outdoors.
Another weird but effective hack: Use mouthwash to get diesel smell out of clothes! Mouthwash is designed to wash away the bad smells in your mouth, and the ingredients in mouthwash also help remove diesel smell in clothes.
Step 1: Wash It With Mouthwash
Put your diesel-stained clothes in the washing machine with your detergent of choice. Then add 1 cup of mouthwash either in the drum or in the bleach dispenser. Then wash the clothes with the hottest water setting that your clothes can withstand.
Once it is done, check to see if the smell still lingers. If it does, wash it one more time with ½ cup of baking soda.
Step 2: Dry It
When you are happy with the result, hang your clothes to dry either indoors or outdoors.
7. Eucalyptus Oil
The reason why mouthwash works well on diesel smell is that it contains eucalyptus oil. Not only can eucalyptus oil eliminate stubborn stains, but it can also take away foul odors. So invest in some eucalyptus oil and make it a mainstay in your laundry room,
Step 1: Wash It With Eucalyptus Oil
Just like before, place the garment in the washing machine and fill water in it. Once it is filled, add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil. Then allow the washer to finish its cycle.
Step 2: Dry It
Dry your clothes under the sun to further eliminate the smell. Or simply air dry them indoors if that option is not available.
If the smell is too stubborn, it is time to do it the hard way! So grab some ammonia, and let’s get to work.
Bleach can remove strong odors, but it can damage the fiber of clothes. Ammonia is a better alternative since it has a weaker base, but it can still get that nasty fuel smell out effectively.
Step 1: Wash It With Ammonia
Place the clothes in the washer with any detergent. Then add ½ cups of ammonia in the bleach dispenser. Remember to choose the hottest water setting that is safe for the fabric.
Step 2: Dry It
Check to see if the smell remains. Rewash it with only detergent if needed. This step can also help remove the smell of ammonia if you are sensitive to it. Then air dry or sun dry your clothes.
What You Should Never Do When Removing Diesel From Clothes
With all the methods mentioned above, I hope that you can now know the right ways to get rid of that terrible fuel smell from your favorite piece of clothing.
However, many things can go wrong in the cleaning process. So be mindful of these little mistakes and avoid them the next time you deal with diesel-soaked clothes.
1. Putting Clothes In The Dryer
Never EVER put diesel-soaked clothes in your tumble dryer. If the diesel still lingers on your clothes, the heat and electricity from your dryer can spark a fire from it. So overall, unless you can guarantee that the smell is gone, do not tumble dry your clothes.
2. Washing Diesel-Soaked Clothes With Other Garments
When you want to wash clothes with diesel, do not place them with other garments in the washing machine. The smell of diesel can easily spread to other clothes, making your whole load of laundry smell like fuel.
If you do not want to waste water washing only 1 item in the washer, you can hand wash your clothes instead.
3. Using Hot Water On Delicate Fabric
People frequently use hot water to eliminate odors from their garments. But using hot water is not suitable for clothes with delicate fabrics such as wool or silk. You should always check the labels on your clothes to be sure they can withstand the heat.
4. Using Harsh Chemical Without Testing
Harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, or even rubbing alcohol are not suitable for clothes with bright colors and delicate materials. Again, remember to check the clothes’ labels before using strong products.
To be safe, you can test the product on the underside of your clothes. If nothing happens after a few minutes, it is safe to soak and wash your clothes with it.
For additional information on this subject, have a look at these FAQs. And if you have any further issues, please share them in the comments section below.
No More Diesel Smells!
Not only is diesel smell stubborn and challenging to remove, it is also harmful to your health. Therefore, knowing the effective ways to eliminate the smell is extremely important.
After reading this article, you can know the right products and techniques to get rid of diesel smell from clothes in the comfort of your own home.
What do you think about these methods? Let me know in the comment section down below. Also, give this post a like and share if you want. I hope you all the best and take care!
- EPA, 2021. Diesel Fuel Standards and Rulemakings.
- American Cancer Society, 2015. Diesel Exhaust and Cancer.