6 Easy Ways to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

You can get the diesel smell out of clothes using baking soda and vinegar, Coca-cola, Listerine, and more.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
The easiest way to remove the diesel smell from clothing is to use a natural deodorizer such as baking soda or eucalyptus oil. Other surprising methods, such as Coca-Cola and Listerine, can also get the job done.
If you’ve ever accidentally spilled diesel fuel on yourself when filling up, you know the feeling of dread and the smell that comes with it. If a typical wash doesn’t do the trick, you’ll have to turn to some more advanced techniques to get rid of that diesel smell.
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Why is the smell of diesel so hard to get rid of?

So, why does diesel odor cling to clothes so easily?
The primary reason is that
diesel is derived from
diesel is derived from petroleum
Diesel also contains sulfur and nitrogen, which gives it a pungent smell. It evaporates slower than gasoline, allowing it to seep deeper into your garments. Diesel can quickly penetrate fabric, discolor clothing, and remain there even after a thorough wash.

Things to do before you start

If you do a few extra things to prepare for these six treatments, your results will be even better.
  • Blot any spills. Use a paper towel to dab up as much diesel spill or stain as possible to reduce future laundry loads.
  • If your garments smell or have a dried stain, pre-wash them with water and dishwashing detergent.
  • Soak garments in warm water with anti-grease detergent overnight.
As a word of caution: don't use chlorine bleach! This may react with fuel residues in the cloth, causing discoloration.
If you're tempted to use more than one method to clean a smelly garment, keep in mind that it's usually not a good idea to mix cleaning products. If one technique doesn't work, you can always try another one. Just make sure to give the item a good rinse before trying again!

6 ways to get diesel smell out of clothes

With all your prep done, we can get started!

1. Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are natural deodorizers, working great for stains and making them an inexpensive and convenient option to get the diesel smell out of your clothes.
  • After washing your clothes, sprinkle them with half a 14-oz box of baking soda and a ½ cup of vinegar
  • Rewash your clothes and allow them to dry, ideally outside if possible. 
  • Check for any remaining scent and repeat the steps if needed.

2. Cola and baking soda

Coca-cola, believe it or not, has excellent cleaning capabilities! It has citric acid, which dissolves and removes rust, and acts as a natural degreaser. When you add baking soda, a reaction happens that helps get rid of tough grease stains.
  • Use your washing machine's soak cycle and let your clothes sit for a few hours before draining the water and soaking again. 
  • As the washer fills up, add a 2-liter bottle of Coke and a 14-ounce box of baking soda.
  • Let the clothes soak in this mixture overnight or for up to 24 hours
  • Wash, and then check to see if you can still smell diesel.
  • If there’s any remaining smell, repeat the steps.

3. Rubbing alcohol and baking soda

Putting rubbing alcohol and baking soda together is also a good way to get rid of stains and smells.
If there’s a visible diesel stain, sprinkle baking soda over it and pour rubbing alcohol on it until it's completely soaked. Let it sit for one hour, and then wash as usual.
If you don't see a stain but want to get rid of the diesel smell, make a soak with warm water, a cup of rubbing alcohol, and about half of a 14-ounce box of baking soda. Soak the clothes for one to two hours in this solution before washing them as usual.

4. Ammonia

It might seem strange to use something with a pungent smell to get rid of something else smelly, but ammonia is great at getting rid of stains and smells on clothes!
  • Put the clothes that smell like diesel in the wash and use the same amount of detergent as you normally would.
  • Pour ½ cup of ammonia into the water as the washer fills up.
  • Let the wash cycle finish and hang the clothes outside to dry.

5. Eucalyptus oil

If you buy pure essential oils made by cold pressing or distilling, you can easily use the pleasant-smelling eucalyptus oil to get rid of the diesel smell from your clothes.
  • Put the stinky clothes in the washer by themselves
  • Start a normal wash cycle with warm water
  • Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil
  • Let the cycle finish like normal

6. Listerine

Listerine does a lot more than just make your breath smell minty fresh. Listerine has ethanol and a few essential oils, one of which is eucalyptus oil. Since it's meant to get rid of bad breath, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that it can do the same for your clothes.
If your clothes smell really bad, soak them in Listerine before washing them. But if you just want to get rid of the smell and not an oil stain, all you have to do is add a cup of Listerine to your usual wash cycle.

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All of these methods are great ways to get the diesel smell out of your clothes—and if you’re looking for the cleanest and easiest way to save money on your
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You can actually use most of the same methods listed above to get rid of the smell of diesel on your hands and shoes! We recommend using one of the lighter-weight options, like Listerine, to deal with your hands.
Using baking soda will also be the best method for dealing with some diesel-scented shoes.
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