How to Remove Gasoline Stains and Odors

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 special care because the fuel spill makes the fabric more flammable. Even when you think the stain is gone, the smell can linger, letting you know that it is not truly clean and still needs to be handled carefully.

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

Stain Type Oil-based 
Detergent Type Stain remover
Water Temperature Hot
Cycle Type Varies with fabric type

Project Metrics

Keep this time frame in mind before removing the stain.

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Before You Begin

Test any detergents or cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

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. Take the garment to a professional dry cleaner immediately. Discuss the stain with them so they can use safe procedures to clean it.

At all costs, do not dry the clothes in a clothes dryer until the stain is 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.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Water
  • Stain remover stick, gel, or spray
  • Liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Ammonia (optional)
  • Orange cleaner (optional)

Tools

  • Paper towels
  • Soaking basin (optional)
  • Washing machine
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove Excess Gasoline

    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 gasoline from a wet spot on your clothing.

    Warning

    Make sure you prevent your used, 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 its damp. Seal the container. Discard it with your trash.

  2. Pretreat With Stain Remover

    Pretreat with a solvent-based stain removal product, like 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. Wash the clothing at the hottest setting appropriate for the fabric. Hot water is necessary to remove the gas fully from the clothing.

  3. Use Liquid Dish Soap or Heavy-Duty Laundry Detergent

    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 do not have it handy, you can pretreat with an enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent. Work in two tablespoons of dish soap or liquid detergent with a soft-bristled brush. Allow the clothing to sit for up to five minutes before soaking in hot water for 30 minutes. It is 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.

  4. Treat With Baking Soda Paste or Soak

    Check the clothing for odor and stains after washing. If any remain, use baking soda to help remove the stain and odor. You can make a baking soda paste of two parts baking soda and one 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, you can soak the stained clothes overnight submerged in water with one 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.

  5. Soak Lingering Odors in Vinegar Solution

    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.

  6. Soak Heavily Soiled Items in Ammonia Solution

    Another suggestion for exceptionally heavy odors is to soak the clothing in the washer full of warm water and one 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.

    Warning

    Ammonia is a wonderful cleaner, but it has one very important warning that you must heed. Never use any chlorine bleach or detergents containing chlorine with ammonia. This mixture makes a dangerous form of chlorine gas, and these toxic fumes can be deadly.

  7. Try Orange Cleaner as Final Resort

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.

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

These methods should remove the stain and odor. If the stain is big or continues to linger after trying these methods, then seek help from professional cleaners.