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 the garment 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.
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. If it is dry clean only, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner immediately. Discuss the stain with them so they can use safe procedures to clean it.
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.
|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-bristled brush (Optional)
- Baking soda (Optional)
- Stain remover stick, gel, or spray
- Liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent
- Vinegar (Optional)
- Ammonia (Optional)
- Orange cleaner (Optional)
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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 as needed.
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, so shut the lid. Soak for several hours or overnight. Drain and wash as usual.
Never use any chlorine bleach or detergents containing chlorine with ammonia. This mixture makes a dangerous form of chlorine gas that produces toxic fumes.
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 Orange Glo's Orange Clean Pro Multipurpose Cleaner or Fantastik Orange Action All-Purpose Cleaner.
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.