How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

There are few things as unpleasant as that lingering diesel smell. When it sticks to your clothes, it can feel impossible to remove. If you’re wondering how to get the diesel smell out of clothes, then read on.

RV Living Problems: Diesel Smell on Clothes

Living with a diesel smell constantly around is one of the worst things most people can imagine. It stinks with that thick, chemical smell and infects everything around it.

When it lingers in the air, it creates the most unsavory aroma out there.

There are numerous practical disadvantages to smelling like diesel. It quickly causes others discomfort and may lead them to assume things about you that are not true.

And once the diesel smell gets in the air, it can feel impossible to get rid of it completely.

The diesel smell comes from a vibrant concoction of gases and various particulates (including nitrogen and sulfur) produced through diesel fuel combustion.

It smells similar to oil or kerosene but with much more potency behind it.

Diesel fumes are some of the more pungent smells in the modern world. Big trucks smell of it, as do gas stations and some work sites.

Not only is it prevalent, but it tends to linger. Once something starts to smell like diesel, it keeps smelling like diesel for a long time.

Don’t be surprised when you get the diesel smell on your clothes if it comes out of the wash still smelling like diesel.

When you get that smell on your clothes, you’re getting a dose of those nitrogen and sulfur particulates on them. These particulates attach themselves to clothes and do not wash off easily.

If left to its own devices, the diesel smell can linger for a long time. In some instances, it’s not unreasonable to assume that it might take six, seven, or even eight weeks for the smell to wash away.

Even after that, the scent might cling to you longer if you don’t take the proper steps.

If left unchecked, the diesel smell will ruin the best clothes. And the smell of diesel isn’t something you should want hanging around the house.

The scent is not only horrendous, but diesel fumes can be incredibly harmful in some concentrations.

Diesel fumes are a mixture of gases, particulates, vapors, and other liquid aerosols that combine with combustion products to create a remarkably toxic fume.

Breathing in these fumes can be minorly irritating or lead to serious health risks.

Depending on the quantity of exposure, there is some evidence that diesel fumes can increase the chance of lung cancer.

To prevent this, anyone working closely with diesel should take the proper precautions to ensure safety.

That’s why getting diesel smells out of clothing is so important. Not only do the fumes stink, but they also present a concerning health risk the longer they are present.

Since the smell comes from particulates clinging to clothing fabric, it’s vital to get rid of those particulates before they cause harm.

The smell that lingers on clothing does not pose the same health risk as direct exposure to diesel fumes. However, it would be best to avoid anything that might be construed as breathing in diesel fumes.

Fortunately, the diesel smell will wash out of clothes.

When properly treated, there are a few easy ways to get that nasty diesel smell out of your clothes, out of your house, and out of your life.

3 Easy Ways of Getting Diesel Smell Out of Clothes

It’s important to realize that the washing machine alone will not get the diesel smell out of clothes. Before you go stinking up the washer, keep in mind that commercial laundry detergent will not get the job done.

Diesel doesn’t evaporate quickly like regular gasoline. It hangs on for dear life, and it will infect the washing machine.

The diesel smell can usually be traced back to some oil-based stains on clothes, and those need to break down to get rid of the smell.

If you throw the diesel-stained clothes in the washing machine, address the smell in the washing machine immediately.

A quick remedy is to mix white vinegar and baking soda, run the washer on a regular cycle, and pop the lid open as soon as the process ends.

When it comes to cleaning those smelly clothes, there are a few things you can try. If you get home and realize you reek of diesel, there are a few precautionary things to do before beginning the cleaning process.

It’s a good idea to get those clothes off before traipsing through the house. This is particularly true if you don’t know which article of clothing has the smell.

Next, soaking the clothes or doing a pre-wash by hand will help start the cleaning process. If there are visible oil stains somewhere, use a paper towel to soak up as much as possible.

Once finished, go ahead and soak the clothes in a bucket of warm, soapy water.

If the smell seems more potent, soak the clothes overnight in hot water mixed with heavy-duty grease-cutting laundry detergent. This will make the actual washing process much easier the next day.

After the clothes have adequately soaked, it’s time to get them clean. Fortunately, this is something that you can do with products you likely have lying around the house.

These items will help remove the diesel stain and neutralize the nasty diesel smell.

Baking Soda & Vinegar

These natural deodorizers will break down the oils in the clothes and eliminate the diesel smell. Use these products in equal amounts instead of regular laundry detergent.

Don’t be surprised if it takes more than one cycle to get the smell out. After three or four cycles, you should be in the clear.


It probably sounds ridiculous, but mouthwash is excellent for removing stains and getting rid of nasty odors. Simply add a fair amount to the washing machine before starting the load.

Not only will it clean the clothes, but it should also clean out the machine itself.

Baking Soda & Coke

This method is particularly effective if the clothes have soaked in hot, sudsy water for a few hours beforehand.

Adding baking soda and Coke to the washing machine will help break down the stains, neutralize the odors, and get that diesel smell out once and for all.

Tips to Prevent Your Clothes From Smelling Like Diesel

The most practical way to avoid smelling like diesel is to stay away from diesel. Working around diesel or driving a diesel truck almost guarantees that something will smell like diesel.

Unfortunately, diesel is something that clings to everything it touches.

Try keeping a natural deodorizer around, like a baking soda solution or eucalyptus oil. Even if the smell lingers on your clothes, these should help eliminate them quickly and with little hassle.


Will diesel smell on clothes go away on its own?

Sometimes the diesel smell can go away on its own, but it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks. It’s best to try the methods listed above to eliminate them immediately.

How do you get diesel stains out of clothes?

If you see visible diesel stains in your clothes, first try sponging the stain with a paper towel. This should absorb a fair amount of the oil.

Then you need to soak your clothes in boiling water with some industrial-grade grease-cutting laundry detergent. The stains should be eradicated after that.

How do you clean the diesel smell from carpet and upholstery?

You can try soaking the affected area with vinegar and hot water, then cover it with baking soda. Leave the baking soda overnight and vacuum it up the next day. Repeat this process.

After the second vacuuming, rub grease-cutting dish soap into the carpet. Let it soak for a few hours before rinsing it and drying it. Then sprinkle it with baking soda for one more day.

Can you spray vinegar on clothes?

You can spray vinegar on clothes, and it may help as you prepare your diesel-smelling clothes for washing.

Avatar photo

Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *