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How to clean gasoline

Pavel Kubarkov/

No matter how careful you are, it happens. You’re pumping gas and spill some on your clothing or shoes. Or you’re transporting gasoline back home to fill up the lawn mower and it spills in your car.

To get rid of that smell, you’ll need to do much more than mask it with a sweetly scented spray.

Here’s how to get rid of gasoline smell, once and for all.

Everyone should know these 10 things about gasoline.

In Your Car

If you spill gasoline in your car, Bill Gatton Acura, a Johnson City, Tennessee car dealership, says you need to act quickly. First, soak up the gas with old towels or clean rags as quickly as possible. Then, use a mixture of equal parts baking soda, white vinegar and hot water to neutralize the odor. Rub it in then wipe with a clean rag.

If the smell lingers, car detailing experts say a few sprays of Febreze can help get rid of the smell.

Never do these 10 things while pumping gas.

Garage Floor

If you spill gasoline in the garage, use cat liter to absorb the liquid. The liter will also help combat the smell. Just let the liter soak up the gasoline for a couple hours, then sweep it up and discard it. Be sure to check with your city’s trash disposal rules to make sure the mixture can be placed in your trash bin.

On Your Hands

Keep a package of Briggs & Stratton Gas Off wipes in your car’s glove compartment. The wipes remove gasoline and diesel fuel odor and residue and are safe to use on your skin, along with plastic surfaces and auto upholstery.

On Clothing

Since gasoline is highly flammable, if your clothing or shoes are heavily soaked, they should be discarded.

These 11 things should never end up in your washing machine.

If you have a small gas spill on clothing, try this trick: Let the clothing air dry for 24 hours, preferably outside. After 24 hours, if the clothing still has a strong gas smell, soak it in vinegar for an hour and let it air dry again.

Once the item loses that strong gas smell, rub mild dish soap onto the stain and wash the gas-stained garments only (don’t wash anything else in the same load) on the hottest cycle possible. Hang the clean clothes to dry.

Follow these rules for storing gasoline.

Buy Febreze now on Amazon.

Buy Gass Off wipes now on Amazon.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The smell of gasoline has different effects on different people. Maybe you’re one of the people who like it. Regardless of how you feel about it, inhaling gasoline does have serious health consequences. So today, we’re going to talk about cleaning up gasoline spills in the trunk of your car.

It happens to us all — you need to have an extra canister of gas on hand for a long trip through the countryside. Or you might just be carrying the gasoline from point A to point B. Well, if you forgot to tighten the cap all the way or the canister itself gets damaged, you could have a puddle of gasoline on your hands. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

This is actually a pretty easy fix, as long as you take all the necessary precautions. After all, too much gasoline inhalation can cause headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Worse, you may seriously damage your lungs and throw up or pass out as a consequence of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Suffice to say, you’ll want to deal with any gasoline spills the moment you notice them. You wouldn’t want other drivers on the road with the kind of symptoms I’ve just described, would you? So don’t make other drivers worry about driving next to a swerving lunatic — here’s how you can clean up a gas spill.

” QUICK NAVIGATION “

How to Clean up a Gas Spill in Your Trunk

STEP 1: Find the Spill and Get Supplies

The first thing you need to do is find the source of the stench and get some gear ready. Obviously, if you’ve noticed the smell of gasoline, your nose is already involved. From here on out, you should cover it with a scarf or a mask (like these charcoal ones). Remember, we’re trying to minimize the damage to your lungs at this point.

If you can’t quite place where the smell is coming from, try to remember whether you or someone else used the vehicle in question to transport gas recently. I’d say that the trunk is a safe bet, but you may also have brought the gasoline into the car on the bottom of your shoes.

If you determine that your carpeting is the source, take it out, and give it a good wash. However, if the smell is coming from the trunk, feel around for a wet spot with your hands. Once you’ve located it, you can prepare some of the following items:

  • Old rags, dryer sheets, or something else that will absorb the wet gasoline.
  • Carpet cleaner fluid.
  • Nylon scrubbing brush.
  • Coffee grounds, baking soda, kitty litter, or commercial odor-eliminating spray.
  • Possibly a vacuum cleaner.
  • A waterproof tarp.

These things should be all you need to get rid of the gasoline. However, you may also replace each of them with an item that performs a similar task. You’ll need to absorb the gasoline first, then wash the area and get rid of the remaining odor. So if you know something that does these things better, you can use that too.

STEP 2: Soak Up the Gas and Air Out the Car

As I’ve previously mentioned, you’ll need to start by drying the area. With your mouth and nose covered, you can feel for the wet spot with your hands. Of course, you’ll need to wash them thoroughly afterward, since gasoline can cause a red rash and swelling.

First, press old rags onto the spill. You can pad the entire area and put something heavy on top. If the weather is nice, you should also leave the car outside to let the odor air out for a few hours.

Now, you don’t really have to use rags for this step. Newspapers are also very absorbent, so you can use those. Likewise, salt and cornmeal could help absorb the oil. And I’ve even heard of people using their babies’ diapers for this step.

And why not? They’re certainly absorbent enough. In fact, they’ll actually draw the gasoline up from the carpeting. Just open them up and spread them out over the spill, then put something heavy on top to make sure the diaper stays open.

Even if the original spill has dried out entirely, you can rewet the spot by spraying it down with water. That will make it easier for the diaper to absorb all of the gasoline it can before you roll down the windows to let the rest of the odor dissipate. Since gasoline can’t mix with water, you need to absorb it and let it dry before trying to clean the area.

STEP 3: Choose the Best Way to Clean the Area

Generally, the gasoline will still be noticeable even after you give it some time to dry. So this is where you’ll hit it with a cleaning solution.

Now, there are many ways to clean the carpeting in a car. For one, you can always use commercial carpet shampoo. Just mix it in a with some warm water and apply it to the area. However, there are also some homemade solutions you can try.

Many people use equal parts vinegar and club soda and add half a measure of dish soap. After all, dish soap is meant to remove grease residue, so gasoline isn’t too far away from that. In fact, you can also use boiling water and dish soap, with a few spoons of Borax, to remove the stain and the odor. Really, if you add baking soda and vinegar to any solution, they should boost its stain-lifting power.

No matter which of these you end up going for, the way you use them will be the same. First, you’ll pour a generous amount of the solution over the stain. Then, you can scrub the area with your nylon bristle brush or an old towel. Circular movements are the best if you want to lift the stain.

Finally, wait for about 10 minutes for the solution to really sink in before rinsing it with water. You can actually repeat the shampooing step as many times as you feel you need to.

However, you should also keep in mind that water can potentially cause rust or mold. So make sure to soak up the solution with newspapers or towels after you’re done. You can also use a hairdryer to speed up the process or just let your car dry in the sun for a few hours.

STEP 4: Deal with the Smell

Finally, it’s time to deal with any of the remaining odors. As long as your car smells, you could be causing damage to your lungs. Fortunately, many commercial products and household items could help fix this problem.

First of all, if the smell isn’t as bad after the previous steps, essential oils could help a bit. Orange or lemon oils work pretty well, and so do lemongrass and tea tree oils. You can use an oil diffuser or combine more than one of these oils in some water and spritz them around the car as needed.

If the trunk is still quite pungent, you can cover the stain with baking soda. Let the powder sit for a few hours, then vacuum it up. Coffee grounds can be used in a similar way, except they’d need to stay in place for a week or so. Additionally, kitty litter should be able to absorb the moisture and the odor all in one sitting after a day or two.

Since these products are dry, you’d be able to repeat these methods as many times as you’d like. And while we’re on the subject of household objects, dryer sheets would also do the trick.

Of course, if all else fails, you can also use commercial odor removers. The ZorbX unscented odor remover claims to be non-toxic and biodegradable. It could be just the thing to use if you don’t want to add one smell on top of another. Unlike some of the other odor removers, you wouldn’t need to air out the car after application.

Additionally, some people have used brake cleaners to get rid of gasoline odors. However, these products also give off a strong smell. Still, according to the people who’ve tried this solution, the smell should disappear completely after a while.

STEP 5: Protect the Car from Future Spills

If the smell of gasoline still permeates the air even after all this work, you may just need to say goodbye to the carpeting altogether. Take the trunk liner out of the car and leave it outside to air out completely.

Going forward, you may want to invest in a waterproof trunk liner if you’re prone to having these kinds of spills. As far as I know, there are two types of trunk liners — fabric ones for transporting pets and rubber ones that only line the floor and have tiny walls on the sides. These liners aren’t universal, as many vehicles have differently shaped trunks.

But really, I wouldn’t be that concerned with the shape of the thing. In fact, you can just use any old plastic tarp you have lying around to line the inside of the trunk. If you don’t have anything like that, you can get something like this multipurpose tarp. When you’re not using it to protect your trunk from spills, you can use it to cover your car to protect it from rain or sun damage. Hey, you can even use it to protect your floor the next time you paint your walls — all for a cozy price of about $20.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Gas Spills

By now, you’ve probably realized that getting the smell of gasoline out of your vehicle will be a lengthy process. However, it’s all worth it for the sake of your health. Even though you’re bound to have hours between each step while the car airs out, the amount of work you’ll have to do is really minimal. And it results in a clean trunk and a healthy pair of lungs — what could be better than that?

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  • How To Remove Sour Milk Odor
  • How To Clean A Car Carpet

Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

CARS.COM — Kids and messes go hand in hand, especially in the car. Add in a road trip, and you’re likely to have miles of messes. If you’re lucky, the mess will be harmless, like water, or something that doesn’t stink, like peppermint tea. But let’s get real: Most of us have had to deal with spilt milk from leaky sippy cups that have rolled under the car seat, only to be found when the nuclear stench assaults our senses. Or the worst of all: the aftereffects of carsick children or leaky diapers. Many of us have even managed to get gasoline in our vehicles when filing up the gas tank or transporting a can of gasoline.

Whether your car seat, carpet or upholstery took the brunt of the damage, don’t panic. There are several ways to clean up even the most stubborn messes (including gas).

Related: More Family Car Advice

What’s a parent to do in the event of a potentially noxious mess in the car? There are several things you can do to keep your vehicle cleaner and avoid stains and nasty smells. Here are our tried-and-true techniques for everything from spilled milk in the car seat and dirt and debris ground into the carpet to spilled gas soaking into a seat, the upholstery or carpet in the trunk.

How to Clean Car Seats, Carpets and Upholstery and Remove Odors

Start With Protective Surfaces: Generally speaking, leather car seats or vinyl seats will be easier to clean than cloth seats. These materials also help keep nasty smells, like gasoline, from sinking into seats. They tend to stay cleaner, and they are much easier to spray down and wipe off when accidents happen.

However, several automakers offer a stain- and odor-resistant material in some of their cars. GM, for example, uses interior spray coatings to protect the seats and cabin materials from sun, sweat, sunscreen, bug repellent and more. Engineers conduct durability experiments on the seat and surface coatings, some of which involve applying perspiration to the seats for hours (a synthetic stimulant, not real sweat, phew!) to see how surfaces hold up. Sweat is just the beginning. GM spills “everything from sewing-machine oil to petroleum jelly,” said Doug Pickett, GM engineering group manager. “We do coffee, ketchup, blue-ink pen, regular soy sauce, chocolate milk, red Kool-Aid and black marker.”

Some Hyundai and Kia vehicles also offer stain- and odor-resistant Yes Essentials upholstery seat fabric. According to the company, the fabric “is designed with repel-and-release technology, so messes that would ordinarily stain most car interiors bead up on the surface to be easily wiped away,” it said in a statement. This makes it much easier to keep your vehicle’s seats cleaner than you ever imagined possible.

Stock Up on Supplies: The time to make sure you have products to clean your car seat, carpet and upholstery isn’t after a spill happens. Whether you have kids or not, it’s always a good idea to stock up to ensure you’ll have what you need when disaster strikes. Look for stain remover that is made specifically for car interiors. It’s also a good idea to keep a spray bottle on hand for plain water. Make sure you have access to a good vacuum for cleaning up dirt, sand and other dry spills. You might even want to think about installing protective covers on car seats and upgrading your floormats to better protect your carpet and keep your car cleaner. If you regularly transport gasoline in your trunk or cargo area, consider investing in a liner to catch any spills.

Act Fast: If someone in your car makes a mess, clean up as much as possible off the car’s seats and floor as soon as possible. Doing so helps keep stains from setting and becoming more difficult to remove. Scoop up any, um, chunks or loose dirt, and soak up any puddles with paper towels. Dealing with odorous liquids like gasoline quickly helps keep them from soaking in and becoming more difficult to remove.

Don’t scrub! Instead, gently blot the mess or scoop away loose dirt or debris. If you scrub, you could work the stain deeper into the upholstery or carpet.

Scrape It Up: If you’ve found your noxious fume culprit and it’s had time to dry and harden, try to scrape up any residual particulates first. Gather plenty of fresh towels, wet the area with hot water and soak up smelly after effects with the towels. Rinse and repeat. A soft-bristled brush and a bottle of spray cleaner that’s designed for car upholstery may make it easier to remove stubborn messes and dirt from your vehicle’s soft surfaces. For large messes, you may want to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner once you’ve loosened the debris.

Stock Up on Baking Soda: Cover every possible affected surface with a thick layer of baking soda. Let that sit and work its magic for as long as possible (in the legendary strawberry milk episode, I let it sit for three days). The same principle that makes baking soda great for soaking up garlic fumes in your fridge means it will work in your car. It may even work to soak up the odor left behind if a gas can spills in your trunk. After a few days, use a high-powered wet/dry vacuum, or a commercial-grade coin-operated vacuum at the gas station or car wash, to suck up all that odor-absorbing magic powder. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get rid of really tough odors.

Combat Lingering Smells: By this stage, the spill should be gone, but there might be a lingering aroma. Rather than trying to mask one smell with another, try an all-natural product like Moso bags, which are filled with bamboo charcoal that can soak up smells from a mile away. OK, maybe not a full mile, but at least within the confines of your car. They come in several shapes and sizes to fit discreetly in your car, and if they work on my daughter’s ballet shoes, they can definitely work on your nasty car smell. Coffee grounds can also help absorb unpleasant smells.

Create an Alternate, Pleasant Aroma: Now that all traces of putridity are a distant memory, you can add a pleasant scent to transform your morning carpool schlep into a feast for your olfactory senses. Rather than adding chemicals to the mix, try a few drops of a favorite essential oil (I vote for grapefruit) on a cotton ball and tuck it into a cupholder or an in-door storage pocket. Breathe deep and enjoy that wonderful family, spills and all.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

ShareFormer Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin

​How to clean up a gasoline spill in your garage with cat litter


Whether it’s milk in the kitchen or red wine on your favorite white carpet, a spill in your house can be a pain to clean up.
But when it comes to gasoline in your garage, an easy fix may be found in a simple bag of cat litter.
According to Dr. Ian Smith, a gasoline spill on a disposable tarp can be absorbed using cat litter. He recommends leaving the cat litter down for at least 48 hours.
If you don’t have cat litter handy, Dr. Ian says you can also use sawdust.
Dr. Ian also recommends using a disposable tarp over a carpet in your garage.
“It’s safer, disposable and not as expensive,” he says.
“During the summer and late spring, it gets very hot ,” Dr. Ian continues. “If you have gasoline here, it becomes very flammable. All kinds of things can ignite it.”
To learn more, watch the video, above.
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I purchased a house that has a garage floor that is soaked with car chemic#als. It looks like a car mechanic worked in the garage and just let everything spill on the floor for 30 years and never attempted to clean up any spills. The floor makes the garage smell toxic and anything that touches the floor takes on the very offensive smell. I have tried every cleaner formulated to for the purpose of cleaning a concrete garage floor and lots of home solutions too, like Dawn soap, and nothing removes anything from the concrete. I know acetone is harsh and not a first choice because of the fumes and because it will make the concrete more porous, but I have to remove the toxic chemicals from my garage floor. I know concrete pools that are stained are cleaned with acetone so that is where I got the idea. My concern is the safety of acetone mixing with car chemicals like oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. I want to be certain not to cause an explosive chemical reaction or a fire. So, is it safe to use acetone to remove the chemicals from my concrete garage floor?

3 Fixes for a Gasoline Odor

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether you’re planning a road trip or gearing up for an outdoor DIY project, the task ahead starts with checking and often replenishing your fuel tank. But be careful: Even the smallest drip of gasoline while filling up at the pump, transporting a gas can, or refueling motorized lawn equipment is enough to cover your cement floor, car interior, or clothing in its unmistakable odor. Should you, your car, or other surface be so unlucky as to get splashed, you’ll want to both cautious and efficient about the removal of this highly flammable and smelly substance. Rather than temporarily mitigating the scent by airing the stain out or spraying on fabric deodorizer, take action with one of these odor-fighting ways to get rid of gasoline and its smell.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Cat litter
– Broom and dustpan
– Plastic takeout container
– Baking soda
– White vinegar
– Water
– Bowl
– Rag or old cloth
– Clothesline
– Dish soap
– Hand vacuum

Photo: istockphoto.com

HOW TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON THE FLOOR

COVER IN CAT LITTER

If your heavy-duty landscaping equipment’s fuel tank leaks gasoline onto the cement floor of your garage, that puddle can quickly become a permanent stench. Fortunately, you can lift the liquid and the smell with a supply of cat litter. Just as the clay granules excel at cleaning up after your feline friend, they too can also quickly absorb liquid and combat odor from gasoline spills.

For optimal results, act fast! Don’t wait until the gasoline evaporates to try this approach.

  1. Generously spread odor-absorbing cat litter over the still wet pool of gasoline.
  2. Leave it to soak up the spill over the next one to two hours.
  3. Use a broom to sweep the gasoline-soaked remains into a dustpan, transferring them to a sealed bag or old plastic takeout container to completely seal in the smell.

Check with your local laws to correctly dispose of the contaminated cat litter. Open the garage door while you work to air out any lingering odor.

Photo: istockphoto.com

HOW TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON YOUR CAR’S UPHOLSTERY

PULL OUT YOUR PANTRY STAPLES
When a gas nozzle precariously peeks past an open car door during your fill-up, your vehicle’s interior may soak up a splash and leave you with upholstery that reeks. Fortunately for automobile drivers everywhere, the pungent scent of petrol doesn’t stand a chance against the triple threat of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water.

  1. Mix a solution of equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and water.
  2. Dip an old rag in the solution and gently rub it over the source of the stench in the car, whether its the seat cushion or fabric floor mat.

The friction created by the rag, combined with the stain-lifting and odor-fighting powers of baking soda and vinegar, eliminate gasoline stains and accompanying odor on contact.

Photo: istockphoto.com

HOW TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON CLOTHING…

WASH OUT AND LINE DRY

Due to being highly flammable, gas-sopped clothing or shoes are better left discarded. However, smaller gasoline stains from the accidental drip still stand a chance of being saved—but not from washing alone. The oily residue requires pre-treatment to be safely and effectively removed.

  1. Start by air-drying the stained items for a full day outdoors. (If the scent is particularly strong, you might want to soak them in vinegar for at least one hour, then return to the clothesline to fully dry.) You do not want to toss garments or shoes into the washer before you’re certain that the smell (read: the fumes) has diminished because of the slight risk of combustion in your laundry appliances.
  2. When taking a whiff of the garment no longer fills your nose with the scent of fuel, vacuum and then rub a mild dish soap into the gasoline stain.
  3. Place the garments into your washer in a load by themselves—you won’t want any missed residue or odor transferring to any other clothing—and machine-wash normally on the hottest setting that’s safe for the type and/or color of fabric.
  4. When the cycle ends, hang it up to dry (or, in the case of sneakers, air outside).

Now take a load off, knowing that your wardrobe is once again fresh, clean, and odor-free.

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