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What To Do If Gas Spills On Your Car

Even though you're careful, accidents are bound to happen from time to time. Should you spill gasoline on your car, there are certain steps you need to follow to remedy this misstep. We researched the methods so that you'll know for sure how to clean up this harmful liquid.

If gasoline spills on or in your car, you will want to clean it up as quickly as possible. If it is on the exterior of the car, you will need to soak up the fuel with a clean rag or towel. A towel soaked in equal parts hot water and vinegar should be used to clean up the residue. For interior spills, you will need to:

  1. Soak up the spilled fuel 
  2. Use a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and hot water to treat the odor
  3. Let the car ventilate
  4. Treat with a deodorizer

Now that we know what steps to take to clean up spilled gasoline from your car, we'll discuss each one in detail so the process is easier to follow. You might also be wondering if gasoline will damage your paint or how long the smell of spilled gasoline will last. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post and see what our research has uncovered.

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oil spill on asphalt road with rainbow reflection on it, What To Do If Gas Spills On Your Car

Steps To Remove Spilled Gasoline From Your Vehicle

As you could see from our tips earlier, there is a lot more that will go into cleaning up spilled gasoline from the interior of a vehicle than from spills on the outside. Though not an overly complicated process, you'll need to follow these steps to the letter to clean up the gas and get rid of the smell it leaves behind.

Old black oil motor car leak or drip on concrete floor

1. Soak Up The Spilled Fuel 

Getting the gas soaked up as soon as possible will make the entire process easier. Using rags or towels, carefully soak up the spilled fuel. Depending on the size of the spill, you might be going through several before it's all absorbed.

Place the towels in a bucket and set them aside when they are done. Be sure that they are properly disposed of in a timely manner to avoid exposing unsuspecting people to them and to keep them from harming the environment.

2. Use A Mixture Of White Vinegar, Baking Soda, And Hot Water To Treat The Odor

Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Add in several tablespoons of baking soda. Apply this mixture to the affected area. This will help to clean the fibers of the gasoline. It will also work to neutralize the odor.

Do this several times, as some larger spills or ones that go deeper into the fabric might take longer to clear out.

3. Let The Car Ventilate

Open the windows and let the car air out. Gasoline that will have been missed by your efforts will slowly evaporate over time. But if you've done a thorough job with your cleanup, this step might not even be necessary.

4. Treat With A Deodorizer

After a day or so, treat the affected area with a reputable deodorizer for good measure. Febreeze works well, as do many other products that you can find in any automotive store. Gently spray it onto the fabric. Allow it to sit. Reapply as needed.

Will Gasoline Damage Your Paint?

From time to time, you might accidentally "top off" your fuel tank a little too much, resulting in a small spray of gasoline spurting out onto the paint of your car. While you might be tempted to let this go, it's important to give it the attention that it deserves.

Gasoline will work against the finish of your car's paint job. Over time, repeated exposure to the fuel will cause the paint to discolor, fade, and can eventually cause corrosion.

Keep a rag handy in the trunk of your car to wipe away spills. When you can, gently clean the area of the spill by using the method we discussed earlier in this post. Doing so will save your paint job!

How Long Does Gasoline Take To Evaporate?

Gasoline spilled on the ground or in your vehicle should be attended to and cleaned up immediately. But if you miss some spots, the fuel will not stick around forever. And if you're wondering how long unattended spills will last, the answer varies.

Generally, gasoline can take anywhere from one day to one week to fully evaporate. The length of time it takes is based on temperature, humidity, the material it's spilled on, and other factors. 

Spilled gas is harmful to the environment and also poses health risks to humans and pets. Ensuring that spilled gasoline gets cleaned up immediately should be a top priority.

Leaking barrel spilling flammable liquid on shiny flooring

Why You Should Not Use Water To Clean Up Gas

You might be tempted to spray a rag with water alone to clean up a gasoline spill. This is not advisable at all, as water alone should never be used to clean up this kind of fuel spill.

Water will not combine with gasoline. In fact, the two will chemically work against one another, as water is a more dense liquid. When applied to gasoline, it will only spread out the fuel instead of absorbing it or cleaning it.

Combining water with vinegar will decrease the density of the cleaning mixture. This will allow for the gasoline to be picked up by the cleaning agent rather than uselessly spread around.

An oil spill causes to form a rainbow color

How Long Will The Smell Of Spilled Gas Last?

Spilled Gasoline on asphalt road

Getting that gasoline smell to come off your hands can take a bit of elbow grease. Whenever your skin comes into contact with the fuel, it's strongly recommended to clean your hands immediately with hot, soapy water. Spilled gas will work as a skin irritant and should be addressed as soon as possible.

The smell of the fuel can be an annoying byproduct of any spill. Whether on your hands or on your vehicle, you probably don't enjoy the odor. When left alone, the smell can last a few hours or a few days depending on what it's spilled on or how bad the spill is.

Careful cleaning will rid the smell of gasoline almost immediately. But for more stubborn spills, it might take several applications of an approved cleaning method and a little bit more time.

How Can Gasoline Harm You?

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that gasoline will irritate your skin. It can also do great damage to your eyes, and you should always treat this fuel with care and caution.

But it works as more than just a skin and eye irritant. Gasoline is potentially lethal when ingested. It can cause lungs to hemorrhage, convulsions, loss of consciousness, and death.

Inhaling the fumes is also dangerous. Aside from damage to your lungs, inhaling gasoline vapors can cause severe weakness, staggering, and heart arrhythmias.

Man coughing into his fist, on a gray background

Final Thoughts

oil spill on asphalt road with rainbow reflection on it

Gasoline is a necessity in this life, but it should be treated with total care and caution. This fuel will not only cause damage to your vehicle's paint and upholstery but is also harmful to the environment and can cause severe injury or death to those who might inhale or ingest it.

Take proper care in cleaning up any gasoline spills, and take preventative measures to keep this from happening.

We hope this post answered all of your questions. For more helpful automotive information, we suggest reading the following posts:

How To Rejuvenate And Recondition Old Gasoline?

Driving With Low Oil? Here’s What Could Happen

Car Heater Not Working – What Could Be Wrong? [Key Reasons Explored]