Diesel fuel smell out of clothing?

Lifehacks Asked by Phlume on September 1, 2021

I recently used the diesel pump on a frigid morning and got fuel on my polar fleece (synthetic material) gloves. I have soaked them, washed them normally, washed them in the dishwasher, soaked them in a detergent/water bath then tried rewashing them… I have even tried rubbing lemon juice on them, but the prevailing petroleum patina persists.

I there an efficient and effective way to clean the smell off of synthetic clothing such as polar fleece? Methods used to eliminate this odor from other materials (linen/cotton) have proven to be less successful with the polyethelyne fabric

11 Answers

My hubby was a diesel mechanic for years. All I had to do was wash his clothes in Tide to remove the smell. However, since using detergent hasn't worked for you, try what a friend of ours had to do. He had to soak his clothing in vinegar, completely immersing, letting them dry and then washing. Hope this helps.

Correct answer by Jane Westin on September 1, 2021

I see that this is an old post but imho the fixes offered up, that I've read anyway, are mostly opinions & not true remedies. For clarity; I work as a heavy duty mechanic for a highway paving crew. Thus I am Constantly exposed to diesel, tar, oil etc. Everything I wear or come into contact with will smell of diesel /sulfur The absolute easiest.. no 12 hour soaks, no mixing a coca cola /baking soda highball in the machine.. surefire way to remove that sulfur diesel smell is a product called " fast orange" There is a gritty hand wash product and a smooth version. You want the smooth version for the wash machine. Add some fast orange (it will say smooth on container) in with a quality laundry soap. ( I use gain or tide) wash & rinse enjoy smell gone. works every time

Answered by lila sargeant on September 1, 2021

A standard technique for deodorizing is to apply vacuum, possibly heating at the same time. The reason the diesel stinks is that it is slowly evaporating, and we detect the vapors. (Solid particles can also have a smell, but that's not the problem here.) The way to permanently get the smelly diesel components out of your sweater is to put it in a vacuum chamber. This is not the sort of thing most people have lying around, but if you posted on craigslist it's likely someone in your city would let you use one. Home or shop vacuum chambers are used by people that do casting for art or product design as well as chemists that need to make powders very dry.

If you use this technique, best success would be obtained by wrapping the fabric in something else that can adsorb small amounts of diesel. The vacuum will cause the diesel to evaporate off, but may not pull all of it out of the chamber. The added absorbent material will prevent the diesel from being redeposited on the fabric.

Answered by piojo on September 1, 2021

In the Army, even though we were a medical unit made up of mostly medics, everyone had to go to the Motor Pool every week to do preventive maintenance (e.g., check the fluids, look for leaks, throughly clean) by inspecting in, under, around, and on top of our Humvees, ambulances, and 5-ton truck.

Inevitably, we all left the Motor Pool with grease, oil, and such on our uniforms. A Sergeant told me to put my uniform in the washing machine, use the hottest water and strongest agitation settings, and then pour a can of coke in and let it run. Then before putting them in the dryer, make sure to check to be sure all of the grease and stuff is gone. It worked every single time!

P.S. She didn't mean it had to be Coca-Cola, per se. Just has to be a brown soda, so not 7-Up, Sprite, Fanta Orange, etc.

Answered by Lea Hartmann on September 1, 2021

My husband worked on the oil rigs. We took his clothes to a laundry mat and bought a six pack of coke. Two cans a load, took out the grease, even diluted in all that water (no laundry soap). I wonder what it does to your stomach!

Answered by barb on September 1, 2021

My husband came in with diesel smelling clothes, so I tried using vinegar, & also baking soda, but they still smelled as strong as ever. So I decided to try DAWN Ultra PLATINUM erasing dish foam soap, I soaked the clothes for 12 hours with a healthy amount of this soap in the water....drained the water, and put them through a normal wash cycle. It worked!! The clothes smell quite strong with the soap smell, and I think next time I will put them through a wash cycle of vinegar or baking soda AFTER the dawn soap, but I'm I know how to deal with the strong diesel odor. This soap can be bought at Walmart, or Lowes Home Improvements. Sandfarm wife in Texas.

Answered by user27384 on September 1, 2021

my glove got wet with diesel this morning and the smell is quite strong. I am going to try leaving the glove immersed in dry ground coffee (not a premium brand) , about 1 pound bag, in the coffee powder, no water added, for a while. Also, I will have to keep the gloves in a plastic bag and now dedicate them to be used for fuelling only.

Answered by jed on September 1, 2021

I figured this out by trial and error and it works perfectly. I put 2 Tide tabs in the washer, then the smelly clothes. Splash lots of Mr. Clean type liquid on top of the clothes, then lots of Dawn orange scent anti-bacterial dish soap. Use hottest water and heavy duty cycle. Poof. Smell is gone. I have a front loader washer and was nervous that the dawn would suds up too much but was ok.

Answered by Dairy farmer on September 1, 2021

What you're smelling is diesel fuel that's remaining in the fabric after all your attempts to remove it. This occurs because the hydrocarbon fuel has bonded to the synthetic fabric (effectively a finely spun plastic). You need something that will loosen the bond between the fuel and the synthetic material, and there might not be such a substance that won't also damage the gloves.

If you're willing to accept the (slight, IMO) possibility of the gloves being damaged, you could try soaking them in rubbing alcohol or denatured ethanol (what the British call methylated spirits). I suggest this because those alcohols are solvents for all non-cyclic hydrocarbons, and shouldn't damage most synthetic fabrics. I warn you because, depending on the denaturing agent used, denatured ethanol might damage the fabric or leave a different odor (ethanol is denatured by adding gasoline, in at least some parts of the USA).

Answered by Zeiss Ikon on September 1, 2021

Arm & Hammer laundry soap works great for the smell not direct spills. Wash in hot water let soak for a hour or more the smell is gone.

Answered by user11138 on September 1, 2021

Short answer: No, there isn't.

From what I've found, all solutions suggest that you soak it in something for 12+ hours.

Try one or more of the following things:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Mouthwash (e.g. Listerine)
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar

You can also try to use them in combination.

Here is the solution I liked the most:

  1. Try soaking the clothes in a tub of warm water or washer, after agitating a few minutes with 1 cup of Tide or degreaser like Dawn dish soap, for 2 hours (this breaks down oils in fuel).
  2. Drain this water off, then rinse, and then refill tub or washer with warm clean water and a 2 liter bottle of Coke and a whole box of baking soda agitate it around to mix it up with the clothes.
  3. Let this soak for 12-24 hours.
  4. Wash like normal.

Others just suggest adding the above products to a usual wash with detergent. I did not test one of the methods, but I think that soaking for a few hours will result in a more thorough cleaning.

If washing with some extra product is a quick way for you, then I have to revise my short answer to: Yes, there is!


Answered by Alex on September 1, 2021

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