How To Get Diesel Fuel Out Of Clothes

How To Get Diesel Fuel Out Of Clothes

The constant smell of diesel fuel while you’re working on a car or RVing is obnoxious, but it gets even worse when you realize your clothes reek of it, too. Is there no relief!? It turns out there are quite a few household products you can use to de-stink your clothes if you accidentally brought that pungent scent in with you. In this article, we’ll show you the best ways to remove the diesel smell from your clothes (and your hands!) using easily available or natural cleaners. Let’s get started!


Pretreat your garments by soaking them in household cleaners like cold water and dish soap, rubbing alcohol, or diluted ammonia before washing. Try adding baking soda and vinegar or eucalyptus oil directly to your washing machine to eliminate diesel smells during the wash cycle. If the diesel smell is on your hands, scrub them with detergent and salt, lemon juice, or a mechanic’s degreasing hand wash like Fast Orange.

Soaking in Degreasing Dish Soap

Fill a tub or bucket with cold or cool water, then add a few generous pumps of a degreasing dish soap like Dawn. Swish the water until the soap is mixed in, then add your diesel-smelling clothes. Let it sit for at least 12 hours (up to 24). Afterward, run your garment through the washing machine like normal. Wash it by itself in case there’s a lingering smell (you don’t want that on your other clothes!). The chemicals in degreasing dish soap will loosen smelly oil or grease particles that are clinging to the fabric of your clothes.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Pour ½ cup (118 mL) of rubbing alcohol into a bucket, then add your garment and toss it in the alcohol until it’s thoroughly covered. Leave the clothes to sit for 20 minutes, then run them through the washing machine (by themselves) as normal. If there’s a diesel stain along with the smell, sprinkle baking soda over the stain, then pour rubbing alcohol on it. Rub the resulting paste into the stain with a soft brush before washing. Avoid putting rubbing alcohol on delicate or synthetic fabrics like acetate, rayon, silk, or wool. Rubbing alcohol breaks down diesel particles and then evaporates away without leaving a scent.

Laundry Additives

Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the machine before the cycle starts. Put the smelly clothes in the washer by themselves, then begin a normal wash cycle with warm water. When the washer is full, add several drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the water. Close the lid and let the cycle finish as usual.

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Add your diesel-smelling items to the laundry and begin the wash cycle. When the washing machine is nearly full of water, add white vinegar and baking soda. Use the same amount of both ingredients as detergent (for example, if you used 1 cup (237 mL) of detergent, add 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar). Continue running the wash cycle like normal. Baking soda and vinegar are both natural deodorizers that also break down diesel oils and greases.

Getting Diesel Smell Off Your Hands

If there’s a visible diesel stain, rub a dab of heavy-duty hand cleaner, like Fast Orange, directly onto it. If there’s no stain (just the smell), add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of Fast Orange to the water in your washing machine and wash your smelly garments with a regular cycle. If the smell persists, run the item through the wash again, but add ½ cup (60 g) of baking soda to the water. If you’re using the Fast Orange brand laundry detergent, follow the instructions on the bottle.

Using Salt and Detergent

Pour 2 tablespoons (34 g) of salt into a container, then rub plain hand soap, dish soap, or a degreasing detergent onto your hands for a minute. Pour the salt into your hands and massage it (along with the detergent) all over your palms and fingers. Rinse the mixture away with plain water (no soap needed). The salt turns the detergent into a scrub that exfoliates your hands and removes stubborn, smelly diesel particles from your skin.

Using Vinegar and Lemon Juice

Pour a generous amount of vinegar into your hands and rub them thoroughly. Afterward, rinse your hands off with plain water. If a slight vinegar smell lingers, don’t worry—it’ll fade after a few minutes or so. Squeeze all the juice out of a lemon, then rub the juice all over your hands. Let the juice sit on your hands for about 5 minutes, then rinse them clean with warm water. Make sure you don’t have any cuts or scrapes on your hands before you add lemon juice—it’ll sting if you do!


1. Can I use bleach to remove diesel smell from clothes?

No, it is not recommended to use chlorine bleach to treat diesel smells or stains as it might create toxic fumes if it mixes with diesel products or other chemical cleaners and stain removers.

2. Can I use ammonia to remove diesel smell from clothes?

Yes, you can use ammonia to remove diesel smell from clothes. Add some plain ammonia to the water while washing them to get rid of musty smells.

3. Can I use vinegar to remove diesel smell from clothes?

Yes, you can use white vinegar to remove diesel smell from clothes. Add 1 to 2 cups of white vinegar to the laundry to help clean better and get rid of the odors.

4. Can I use eucalyptus oil to remove diesel smell from clothes?

Yes, you can add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to the wash after the washer fills with water to remove diesel smell from clothes.

5. Can I use baking soda to remove diesel smell from clothes?

Yes, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda when adding detergent helps remove the odors and stains from diesel-smelling clothes.

6. Can I use mechanic’s hand soap to remove diesel smell from clothes?

Yes, rubbing mechanic’s hand soap on the oily spots, then washing as normal, can help remove diesel smell from clothes.

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