How to Clean Diesel Fuel Tanks

Updated February 21, 2017

Diesel fuel tanks can accumulate water and debris over time, degrading the level of diesel fuel that is pumped out of the tank. Cleaning the diesel fuel tank can help ensure that there is no degradation or contamination of the diesel fuel that is pumped into the tank. When the performance of the diesel engines degrade, consider cleaning the diesel fuel tank as one step in correcting the problem. A cleaner diesel fuel tank can result in improved diesel engine performance.

Wait until the diesel tank is nearly empty. Then use the drain to remove the remaining diesel into a container that is approved for diesel storage.

Use a fluid extraction pump if there is no drain in the tank. Attach flexible braided tubing to the intake on the pump, then attach a PVC pipe onto the end of the end of the braided tubing. Note that the diameters of the intake, tubing and pipe must match. Insert the tube into the tank, to the bottom, and pump out contaminants into the diesel container. Once clear diesel fuel starts to appear, stop pumping as you have removed the contaminants--which settle at the bottom--from the tank

Determine the capacity of the diesel tank. Add an appropriate amount of a diesel tank cleaning solution. Add a diesel tank cleaning solution that is ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) compliant.

Fill the tank with diesel fuel. Return any clean fuel from the top of the container if you used the drain. The top of the container will have clean diesel if it hasn't been mixed.

Dispose of any contaminants and unclean fuel in an approved manner. Check businesses listed in phone directories under waste products. If you can't find any, contact your county government for information about approved methods of disposing of hazardous waste.


Keep some clean rags handy for spills.


Excessive breathing of diesel exhaust can cause health problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Diesel fuel tank cleaner
  • Fluid extraction pump
  • Diesel container
  • Braided flexible tubing
  • PVC pipe
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About the Author

Doug Hewitt has been writing for over 20 years and has a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He authored the book "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," which includes health and fitness hints for parents. He and his wife, Robin, are coauthors of the "Free College Resource Book."