Gasoline spills are some of the worst stains to remove from fabric. In addition to the stain, you have to deal with the smell. You must also take special care because the fuel spill makes the fabric more flammable. And even when you think the stain is visibly gone, the smell can linger, letting you know the fabric is not truly clean and still needs to be handled carefully until the stain is removed completely. Here are some tips for how to get gasoline out of clothes.
Before You Begin
Fabric stained with gas or diesel fuel must not be washed with other clothing due to the risk of cross-contamination.
Test any cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that they won't discolor the fabric. Also, cleaning chemicals and the high heat of the dryer can interact with the gasoline, so it is not safe to use a home dry cleaning kit for these stains. If the item is dry clean only, take it to a professional dry cleaner immediately. Discuss the stain with them, so they can use safe procedures to clean it.
Do not dry the fabric in a dryer until the stain and smell are entirely gone. If gasoline is still present on the garment, it can ignite in your dryer and cause a fire. If possible, dry the clothes outside. Otherwise, use an indoor drying rack.
|Detergent Type||Stain remover|
|Cycle Type||Varies with fabric type|
Click Play to Learn How to Remove Gasoline Stains and Odors Quickly
Equipment / Tools
- Paper towels
- Soaking basin (optional)
- Washing machine
- Soft-bristle brush (optional)
- Baking soda (optional)
- Stain remover stick, gel, or spray
- Liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent
- Vinegar (optional)
- Ammonia (optional)
- Orange cleaner (optional)
Blot Away Excess Gasoline
Blot the fabric with paper towels to remove any excess gasoline, and dispose of the paper towels safely. You can also use baking soda to absorb gasoline from a wet spot on your clothing.
Make sure you prevent the flammable towels or cloths used for blotting from starting a fire. To do this, set out the cloth or towel to air dry. Flammable gas fumes will dissipate in the open air. Once the item is dry, find a sealable metal tin, put the towel or cloth in it, and wet the material until it's damp. Seal the container. Discard it with your trash.
Pretreat With Stain Remover
Pretreat with a solvent-based stain removal product, such as Shout, Zout, or Spray 'n Wash, to break up the petroleum products. Allow the stain remover to work for at least 15 minutes before washing.
Then, wash the clothing at the hottest setting appropriate for the fabric. Hot water is necessary to remove the gas fully from the clothing.
Pretreat With Dish Soap or Heavy-Duty Detergent
An alternate pretreatment option is dish soap or detergent. Liquid dish soap is designed to remove greasy and oily stains, especially the Dawn brand. If you do not 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 washing it in the hottest water the fabric allows.
Presoak Heavily Soiled Items in Ammonia Solution
Another option 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, so shut the lid.
Soak for several hours or overnight. Then, drain and wash as usual using the hottest water possible for the fabric.
Never use any chlorine bleach or detergents containing chlorine with ammonia. This mixture makes a dangerous form of chlorine gas that produces toxic fumes.
Use Baking Soda on Lingering Odors
Check the clothing for odor and stains after washing. If any remain, try baking soda. 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 fabric. This step can be repeated until the gasoline is fully removed. Then, wash as normal.
Alternatively, you can soak the stain overnight in water with 1 cup of baking soda added. Wash, rinse, and check for odor. Repeat if necessary until the stain is fully gone, and then wash as normal.
Soak Lingering Odors in Vinegar Solution
If you still have any gasoline smell left, you can also try a vinegar and water soak for 30 minutes. This is a good natural option to remove stains. Repeat the vinegar soak again as needed, and then wash as normal.
Try Orange Cleaner as Final Resort
As a last resort, you can 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, such as Orange Glo's Orange Clean Pro Multipurpose Cleaner or Fantastik Orange Action All-Purpose Cleaner.
When to Call a Professional
These methods should remove the stain and odor. If the stain is big or continues to linger after trying these methods, seek help from professional cleaners.
Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Outreach Materials. United States Fire Administration.