How to Remove Gasoline Stains and Odors From Clothes and Carpet

A man pumping gas into a car

Tom Merton / Getty Images

Gasoline spills are some of the worst stains to remove from clothing or carpets. In addition to the stain, you have to deal with the smell. You must also take care because the fuel makes the fabric more flammable. Even when you think the stain is gone, the smell can linger letting you know that it isn't truly clean and still needs to be handled carefully.

Clothing and rags stained with gas or diesel must not be washed with other clothing. If you can smell any fumes after washing them, the process isn't complete. That is a signal that you should not put the clothes or rags in the clothes dryer, or you risk a fire.

Washable Clothing

First, blot the clothing with paper towels to remove any excess gasoline or fuel and dispose of them safely. You can also use baking soda to absorb any liquid.

  • Pretreatment with a solvent-based stain removal product, like Shout, Zout, or Spray 'n Wash can break up petroleum products. Allow the stain remover to work for at least 15 minutes before washing. Wash the clothing at the hottest setting appropriate for the fabric. Hot water is necessary to remove the gas fully from the clothing.
  • Liquid dish soap is another product that is designed to remove greasy and oily stains, especially the Dawn brand that was developed for that purpose. If you don't have it handy, you can pretreat with an enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent. Work in 2 tablespoons of dish soap or liquid detergent with a soft bristle brush. Allow the clothing to sit for up to five minutes before soaking in hot water for 30 minutes. It's important to use the hottest water that is safe for the fabric type. Launder the clothing at the hottest water setting appropriate for the fabric.
  • Check the clothing for odor and stains after washing. Never put the clothes in the dryer if there is any scent of fuel remaining. If any remain, you should use baking soda to help remove the stain and odor.
  • You can make a baking soda paste of 2 parts baking soda and 1 part water and rub it directly onto the stain. Allow it to air dry and then brush the baking soda off of the clothing. This step can be repeated until the gasoline is fully removed.
  • Alternatively, soak the stained clothes overnight submerged in water with 1 cup of baking soda added. Wash, rinse, and check for odor. You may have to repeat the baking soda paste application or baking soda soak until the odor is gone.
  • If you still have any gasoline smell left, you might also try a vinegar and water soak for 30 minutes. Repeat the vinegar soak again.
  • Another suggestion for exceptionally heavy odors is to soak the clothing in the washer full of warm water and 1 cup of non-sudsing household ammonia. This will smell itself, so shut the lid. Soak for several hours or overnight. Drain and wash as usual, with care not to use any chlorine bleach or detergents containing chlorine as that can form dangerous chlorine gas when in contact with ammonia.
  • As a last resort, you can also add a little orange cleaner to the wash load to help break down the traces of gasoline and get rid of the smell. Look for an all-purpose cleaner derived from oranges, like OrangeGlo's Orange Clean All-Purpose Cleaner or Fantastik Orange Action Cleaner.

If possible, dry the clothes outside. Otherwise, it is safest to use an indoor rack or clothesline. Avoid using a clothes dryer until you are sure that all of the fuel odor is gone.

Illustration of how to remove gas odor from clothing
The Spruce / Theresa Chiechi.

Dry Clean Only Clothes

Dry cleaning chemicals can interact with the gasoline, so it is not safe to use a home dry cleaning kit for these stains. Take the garment to a professional dry cleaner immediately. Discuss the stain with them so they can use safe procedures to clean it.

Carpet and Upholstery

Large spills will need to be professionally cleaned and present a fire hazard. Turn off all electrical appliances and prevent static electricity sparks by keeping family members and pets out of the room. Open windows and doors and use fans to get ventilation of the vapors.

For small spills on the carpet or in vehicles, absorb any liquid with paper towels and dispose of them safely. Sprinkle the stained area with baking soda or kitty litter, leaving it in place for at least four hours or overnight. Be sure to ventilate the area and prevent sparks from electrical appliances or static electricity.

Make a solution of 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent in 1 cup of water. Work the solution into the stained area with a soft bristle brush from the outside edges inward. Blot it with paper towels or white cloth to remove the liquid. Then use plain water on a sponge or cloth to rinse the spot and remove any soap. Air-dry the area, keeping it well-ventilated and away from any direct heat sources. Once it is dry, vacuum the area.

Be sure that any paper towels or cloth used are safely stored and disposed of to prevent fire.