How To Get Diesel Smell Out Of Clothes [3 Methods Explored]

Diesel fuel contains elevated levels of sulfur, causing it to smell like kerosene or turpentine, both unpleasant odors to carry around. Diesel not only causes an unpleasant aroma but can stain fabric as well. After a copious amount of research, it has been determined there are several ways to remove the scent from clothing. 

Yes, you can wash your clothes to remove diesel odor. Keep these soiled clothes separate from your other laundry, and use your typical detergent. Pre-treat clothing with either of the following stain-fighting ingredients before tossing into the wash:

  • Baking Soda & Coca-Cola
  • Listerine 
  • Ammonia 

You will notice that using a stronger detergent is not listed above. Diesel is tough to wash out, and it is assumed detergent was previously used in a first attempt to remove the scent. Next, the details of each cleaning method will be further explored. 

Man hand holding yellow petrol pump, How To Get Diesel Smell Out Of Clothes [3 Methods Explored]

Is It Okay To Wash Clothes With Diesel On Them?

Yes, you can wash clothes with diesel on them. An important note to remember, however, is that you should not wash these soiled clothes with ordinary laundry. This may jeopardize staining the normal clothes, as the smell of diesel is linked to oil stains. The last thing you want is the stain spreading. 

How Do You Get Diesel Stains Out Of Clothes?

Baking Soda

Unanimously, sources state baking soda is an expert in removing both the aroma and physical stains caused by diesel. Sodium bicarbonate naturally neutralizes odor, and when combined with Coca-Cola, the phosphoric acid develops into carbon dioxide. This natural gas is put to work and lifts stains, especially damage stemming from oil. 

First, place the tarnished garment in a tub full of hot water and one cup of detergent. The temperature is key to lifting the spot. After the fabric has soaked for several hours, drain the liquid and pour in a 2-liter bottle of Coke and a one-pound box of baking soda. Soak for at least 12 hours, and run through the washing machine as normal. 

If the idea of pouring soda over your clothes does not appeal to you, don’t worry! Baking soda and vinegar is also a popular technique used to eliminate diesel contamination. Use an equal ratio of baking soda and vinegar and perform the same ritual mentioned in the Coca-Cola method. 


Firefighters have used this mouthwash to lift the heavy scent of smoke from their uniforms. It is a cheap yet effective personal care item. Simply add a half cup of the liquid to your load of laundry, complete with detergent as usual.


If the smell of diesel is coming from a visible oil stain, the fabric can be treated with an ammonia cleaner. While this method does require an additional dry cleaning solution, you can easily replace it with hot water and dish soap. 

Apply a tablespoon of ammonia to the blemish, then gently scrub with a brush dipped in the dry cleaning solution. Blot the clothing with a separate piece of fabric, alternating between adding water and blotting. Using water in this process is important, as dried cleaning products may lead to more damage. 

Remember, ammonia can be a dangerous chemical if not properly handled. If bleach has previously been applied to the garment, do not use ammonia. Bleach and ammonia create a toxic gas when combined, and in extreme cases, can lead to death. It is best to research ammonia’s dangers before using it as a household cleaner. 

How Do You Get Diesel Smell Off Your Hands?

Fast Orange

Fast Orange is a lotion that can safely remove diesel oil off of skin. This hand sanitizer has a high concentration of alcohol that can cleanse both the skin and fabric, though its intended use is on skin. 

Click here to see Fast Orange at Amazon.

Sugar Scrub and Neutral Oil

A sugar scrub typically consists of two to three basic elements. A coarse, usually brown sugar, neutral oil such as vegetable oil or coconut oil, and sometimes an essential oil. The oil lubricates the skin, while the sugar removes dead skin cells and, occasionally, dirt. Essential oils are added to enhance aromatics. 

While a sugar scrub should not be your first resort when in direct contact with diesel fuel, it may provide a basis for removing the odor and basic cleansing. There should be a follow-up process after the sugar scrub, such as a lotion similar to Fast Orange. 

How Do You Dispose Of Old Diesel Fuel?

Improper disposal of fuel harms the environment. Dumping old oil at uncertified disposal centers often results in government fines. When crude oil evaporates, the carbon monoxide is released into nature and contributes to air pollution. Be responsible, and follow these next steps. 

Identify Diesel Type

The first step in properly disposing of old diesel fuel is identifying what kind of solution you have. This may be difficult to do if the fuel has not been in your constant possession. If the fuel has been contaminated with water or other solutions, the disposal process may differ. When uncertain, always treat unfamiliar chemicals as if they are hazardous. 

Find a Local Recycling Center or Fire Station

Once you have identified whether the diesel fuel is contaminated or not, you can search for a local recycling center to dispose of the waste. There are useful websites, such as Earth911, that can direct you to the nearest disposal center. Another option is contacting the neighborhood fire station. The fire department can further inform you on the proper care of old fuel.  

Safely Contain the Diesel for Transport

Depending on what the disposal site asks for, you may need to use a specific transporting container for the fuel. Most experts suggest a basic plastic gas container with a sturdy cap. Always place the fuel container upright when transporting it.

Disposal of diesel fuel will require a hazmat license if there are more than 119 gallons present. Full hazmat regulations accompany this, and there is a good chance you will need a gas tank to transfer the oil. 

In Closing

Man hand holding yellow petrol pump, How To Get Diesel Smell Out Of Clothes [3 Methods Explored]

Getting diesel stains on your clothes may smell pretty unfortunate, but it isn’t the end of the world. Tricks like baking soda and coke/vinegar, Listerine mouthwash, and ammonia can ease your worries. Fast Orange is an excellent lotion for cleansing the skin of unnecessary oil, and sugar scrubs can provide additional aid. 

For more great tips to keep your gear spotless, check out our related articles:

Can You Dry Clean Motorcycle Leathers?

How To Effectively Deodorize A Car

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