How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

Of all the most pungent oils in the world, diesel is one of the most common and one of the smelliest oils you’ll run into. Whether you’re working on your car, riding your four-wheeler, or just filling up your tank at the gas station. anyone can fall victim to a diesel stain. Fortunately, removing the scent and stain is a straightforward process, so follow these steps to learn how to get diesel smell out of clothes!

How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes
How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

Removing Diesel Smell With Household Goods

Step 1: Coat Stain With Baking Soda

First, you’re going to want to acquire a box of baking soda. Many people will already have this in their pantry, but if you are not one such person, you’ll want to purchase some (it will come in handy for other future uses, I promise). I recommend the classic Baking Soda — it’s cheap, effective, and lasts forever. Once you have your baking soda, you’ll want to sprinkle enough onto the stained fabric to fully cover the stain.

Step 2: Scrub The Baking Soda Into Fabric

Once you’ve coated the stain with baking soda, the next step is to scrub the baking soda into the fabric until the baking soda has clumped up on the surface of the fabric. Any variety of cleaning brush will work, but I prefer nylon fiber cleaning brushes such as this one; the fibers last much longer than the average cleaning brush, and it’s very easy to clean after use. The purpose of this step is to soak up any moisture with the baking soda, so if you scrub it in and it still feels damp, brush the clumps of baking soda off of the fabric and repeat until the baking soda is no longer clumps together.

Step 3: Create Cleaning Solution

For this step, you’ll need to create a cleaning solution of equal parts water and degreaser. Some prefer to combine these into a larger spray bottle to save them the trouble of re-creating the solution the next time they need it, but if you prefer to make your solution in a cup or bowl, it works just the same. As to what type of degreaser you should use, I recommend using Easy Off, since its functionality is not limited specifically to this purpose; you can use Easy Off for regular kitchen cleaning as well as stain removal. This particular degreaser is lemon-scented as well, which will help in getting rid of the diesel smell.

Step 4: Apply Your Cleaning Solution

Now that you have created your cleaning solution, it’s time to apply it to the stain. If you mixed your water and degreaser in a spray bottle, spray the solution onto the stain until the fabric is thoroughly soaked. If you mixed your water and degreaser in a bowl or cup, soak a cleaning rag with the solution and wring the ragout over the stain, again being sure to thoroughly soak the stained fabric. If you’re worried that you are applying too much solution, don’t worry; by diluting the degreaser with water, you are preventing it from doing damage to your fabric. After soaking the fabric, be sure to lightly brush the solution and work it into the stained fabric.

Step 5: Leave Overnight

Once you have thoroughly soaked your stained fabric with your homemade stain remover, you’ll need to let the fabric sit overnight (or at least 8 hours). Doing this will allow the degreaser to properly work its magic, and when it comes time to finish the process in the morning, you’ll notice that the degreaser has moved the remaining oils toward the surface of the fabric. The chemicals in the degreaser will also eliminate some of the diesel odor overnight, so don’t skip this step!

Step 6: Wash the Garment

You’ve been patient in learning how to get the diesel smell out of clothes, and now it’s time for that to pay off. After letting the solution soak into the garment, you’ll need to wash the garment on the hottest setting your washing machine has. DO NOT put any other clothing article into this load, as there will still be some diesel odor, and you don’t want to have to repeat this process with an entire load of laundry. If for some reason your stained fabric smells like diesel after the wash, soak it in vinegar and water for about an hour, and then run it through the washing machine again.


If you have completed all of these steps, your garment should no longer be stained, or at the very least should no longer smell of diesel. If it is still odorous, there are a few other options that you can try. I recommend trying these options AFTER following the steps above, as these alternatives are not enough alone to fully remove the odor, but they are perfect for a follow-up to get rid of the faint, lingering scent.

Alternative 1: Listerine

It sounds too simple to be true, but Listerine is perfect for removing lingering odors from clothing. You’ll want to pour about half a cup (more or less, depending on how strong the odor is) of Listerine into your washing machine along with the clothing and your normal detergent. Run through the cycle on the hottest setting, and if it still smells, try either repeating this step or following Step 6 above. It should take no more than two cycles to fully remove the lingering scent.

Alternative 2: Fast Orange

While baking soda, degreaser, and water should do the trick, some stains are either too saturated or odorous. In this case, you’ll want to try using Fast Orange to remove the stain and odor. Fast Orange is typically used by mechanics or laborers who work in greasy environments to remove oil and grease stains from hands. Due to its purpose, this is perfect for removing both stain and odor from your clothing. Using Fast Orange is similar to how you would use Listerine; just add half a cup to your washing machine and run the cycle on the hottest setting.

What Not to Do

When the solutions we try aren’t working, it is tempting to get frustrated or impatient and snap to the first thing that comes to mind, but this often is not the best solution. I myself have made some common mistakes when I learned how to get the diesel smell out of clothes, and I will share my mistakes with you here so you can avoid making the same ones.

Don’t Use Chlorine Bleach

As a rule, you should never apply chlorine bleach to a clothing article. Whether you do it to remove a stain or odor, or you use it to whiten the fabric, it is a poor idea. Not only will it weaken the fibers of the fabric, but it can also eat holes in your clothing and irritate your skin when you wear it. Regular bleach is safe to use, though it will lighten the color of the fabric you use it on. The difference, however, is the chlorine content. Regular bleach can be useful for eliminating some stains, but chlorine bleach will destroy your garment. If your goal is to remove the stain and have your garment looking the same as it did before it was stained, follow the steps above and avoid any type of bleach.

Don’t Put Your Stained Clothing in the Dryer

I know it’s tempting to throw your clothing in the dryer after waiting so long to get the stain out, but don’t do it if you don’t have to. While following the steps above should remove most, if not all, of the stain from the fabric, it is possible that there is still some residue remaining in the fibers of the fabric. If you throw the fabric in the dryer while it is still stained, the heat will set the stain into the fabric and it will be near impossible to get out after that. Let the clothing air-dry, and if you notice that it is still stained once it has dried, repeat the steps above and let it air-dry again. Once you are certain the stain is removed, or at least not visible when it’s dry, then you can run it through the normal wash and dry cycle with the rest of your clothing.

After reading this article you should now know how to get the diesel smell out of clothes and hopefully, your stained clothing is now stain- and odor-free! This guide will work for any type of fabric (aside from, perhaps, very delicate garments that cannot withstand scrubbing), so if you get a diesel stain (or any heavy stain, really) on your clothing again, return here and follow the steps once more. You can follow the links in the steps above to find the recommended products, or hunt them down on your own! Be sure to remember the “Don’t”s; believe me when I say that there is nothing worse than destroying your favorite pair of jeans with chlorine bleach and finding out after the fact that it’s basically clothing acid. I wish you luck in de-staining your garments and even more luck in avoiding the stains altogether!

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