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How to wash diesel out of clothes

Updated April 17, 2017

Even if you are not a professional mechanic, it is common to wind up with diesel fuel on your clothes after fuelling your lawnmower or, if you are a bit clumsy, your car. Thankfully, getting diesel out of your clothing is almost as easy as getting it there in the first place, although a simple wash in washing powder will not do the trick. The additional good news is that most, if not all, of what you need to take care of the problem is inexpensive and probably already in your kitchen or bathroom.

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  1. Before treating the stained garment, do not to put it in the laundry basket with other clothes. A diesel-splattered piece of clothing can quickly contaminate other laundry. When you treat your diesel-stained clothing, place the stained item on an ironing board or table, and away from other clothing.

  2. Using a solvent-based cleaning liquid, such as white spirit or rubbing alcohol, saturate the diesel stain area and rub in the cleaner. The treated area should be placed on an absorbent piece of napkin or paper towel. Next, using a dry cleaning solvent, knead the stain gently, adding a bit of water to the solvent periodically as you knead. Before washing the entire garment with regular detergent in the washing machine, spot-wash the stained section with a bit of water and detergent, kneading it in as before. After washing the immediate area, rinse and put it through the laundry cycles. Allow the article of clothing to dry by hanging, rather than using the dryer.

  3. If the diesel smell still remains, immerse the garment in a combination of water and roughly 250ml of white vinegar. Leave the garment in the presoak cycle for at least 60 minutes before washing again in the washing machine.

  4. At this point, the diesel smell should be gone, but if there is still a lingering odour, there is one last unorthodox step you can take. In one small- to medium-sized container, combine an entire carton of baking soda with water and one can of cola. As with the vinegar soak, let the garment steep in the mixture. This time, however, let the garment dry naturally before washing it in the machine.

  5. Warning

    Diesel fuel is extremely flammable, making it hazardous to dry fuel-stained garments in an electric dryer. When treating and washing clothes with diesel on them, always line-dry or simply place the treated garment on a hanger or the back of a chair.

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Things You'll Need

  • White spirit or rubbing alcohol
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Washing powder
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Cola beverage

About the Author

Juan Ramirez has been a writer for over 14 years and worked for two years as an assistant editor with an internationally circulated journal. Ramirez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from Potsdam State University and a Master of Arts in individualized study from New York University.

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