How to Remove Gas Stains From Car Mats and Upholstery

Commercial spray-on carpet cleaner passing over black car mat

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 day, 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Gasoline, diesel fuel, or home heating fuel stains and odors can be difficult to remove from cars and carpeting. They can even be dangerous if you don't do them correctly. The stains make all fabrics and carpets more flammable than normal, so it is very important to handle the items carefully.

Here is our guide for quickly tackling gasoline stains that may have happened in your car, on your car's upholstered seating, or on carpeting.

Stain Type Oil-based
Detergent Type Solvent-based stain remover and heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Varies depending on the type of fabric
Cycle Type Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

If you do not have the proper cleaning tools to handle spilled gasoline on car carpeting, consult a professional auto shop or detailer for assistance.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 shop vacuum
  • 1 soft-bristled brush
  • 1 sponge or cloth
  • 10 paper towels or rags

Materials

  • 1 box baking soda
  • 1 bottle liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

How to Remove Gas and Diesel Stains From Carpet

Note that this stain removal method is suitable only for very small stains or spills. Larger spills in car trunks or on indoor carpets will likely have saturated the carpet padding and need professional attention. In most instances, the carpet and pad will need to be replaced.

Warning

Fuel stains on carpeting require special care. Whether the fuel is tracked onto your carpet at home or spilled in the trunk of your car, the fumes can be overpowering. Strong fumes can also be a fire or explosion hazard and ignited with just a small spark of static electricity. Turn off all electrical equipment and open all doors and windows to ventilate the area until the spill is removed and the air has cleared.

items for removing gas stains from carpet

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  1. Blot the Stain

    Blot the spill with paper towels or clean rags to remove as much liquid fuel as possible. Dispose of the used towels or rags safely.

  2. Soak Up the Stain

    • Sprinkle the stained area with baking soda or kitty litter to help absorb the oily petroleum and the odor.
    • Leave the baking soda on the area for at least four hours, then vacuum it up with a shop vacuum.

    If the powder becomes damp at any point, vacuum it up, sprinkle it again, let it sit overnight, and then vacuum.

  3. Use a Cleaning Solution

    It's best to use a carpet or upholstery cleaner, which has sud suppressants in its formulas and will be easy to wash out of your carpet. But, if you're in a pinch, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of warm water.

    Using a soft-bristled brush, work the detergent solution into the stained area. Work from the outside edges toward the center to avoid spreading the stain and making it a bigger problem.

  4. Blot, Rinse, and Dry

    • Blot the area with a clean white cloth or paper towel.
    • Rinse with a sponge or cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue.
    • Let the area air-dry away from direct heat.
    • Vacuum the carpet to restore the pile. If the stain remains, repeat the treatment.

    For lingering odors in vehicles, ventilation is key. You may also find that deactivated charcoal, baking soda, or even coffee grounds will help absorb the odors.

Tip

To dispose of oily towels or rags, lay them out flat in a single layer on a concrete surface (such as a garage floor), in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Let them dry out completely before discarding them in a metal trash container.

How to Remove Gas Stains From Upholstery

  1. Blot the Stain

    Blot the spill with paper towels or clean rags to remove as much liquid fuel as possible. Dispose of the used towels or rags safely.

  2. Soak Up the Stain

    • Sprinkle the stained area with baking soda or kitty litter to help absorb the oily petroleum and the odor.
    • Leave the baking soda on the area for at least four hours, then vacuum it up with a shop vacuum.

    If the powder becomes damp at any point, vacuum it up, sprinkle it again, let it sit overnight, and then vacuum.

  3. Use a Cleaning Solution

    It's best to use an upholstery cleaner, which has sud suppressants in its formulas and will be easy to wash out of your upholstery. But, if you're in a pinch, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of warm water.

    Using a soft-bristled brush, work the detergent solution into the stained area. Work from the outside edges toward the center to avoid spreading the stain and making it a bigger problem.

  4. Blot, Rinse and Dry

    • Blot the area with a clean white cloth or paper towel.
    • Rinse with a sponge or cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue.
    • Let the area air-dry away from direct heat.

Additional Tips for Handling Gas Stains In Your Car

Gas and diesel stains on car carpet and upholstery are noxious and need to be handled carefully and as soon as possible. A professional cleaner is best to handle it if it is a large spill, especially on carpet or furniture.