How To Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes: 9 Money-Saving Solutions

In this article: Savvy tips from our frugal readers for removing diesel smell from clothing so you can rescue it rather than replace it.

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Do you have a similar diesel dilemma as this Dollar Stretcher reader?

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I am having a tough time removing fuel smells from our laundry. My husband drives a fuel truck. Does anyone know how to get the diesel smell from his work clothes? The smell permeates everything! I can’t always dry his clothing outside and I certainly don’t want to spend money replacing clothing!

How To Remove Diesel Smell From Clothing: 9 Dollar Stretcher Solutions

We asked our frugal readers to share tips for getting diesel smell out of clothing. Read on for nine solutions for prolonging the life of smelly clothing.

1. Baking Soda

My husband also drives a fuel tanker; I have found that adding 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda when I add detergent helps remove the odors and stains from his work clothes. If the baking soda doesn’t help, try pre-washing in Pine-Sol or Mr. Clean. Either one removes the stains and oily residue from the clothes.
Denise G.

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2. Coca-Cola Classic

When washing these clothes, pour a can of Coca-Cola Classic in the machine with your detergent. This will remove the petroleum products completely, which I suspect is the problem. You must use Coke!

3. Ammonia

To get odors out of your clothes, add some plain ammonia to the water while washing them. Gets rid of musty smells. Put it in the water with your soap and other things, not on top of the clothes. Use 1/2 cup. I used it in washing old “down” quilts that had been in an attic for a long time. Washed them and set them outside in the air. Were good as new.

Editor’s note: Make sure you never mix ammonia with bleach. The combination creates a toxic gas.

4. Vinegar

My late husband used to drive a fuel truck, and the diesel fuel was the worst smell to get out. What I put in the laundry to help clean better and get rid of the odors was 1 to 2 cups of white vinegar. It also helped get the grease and oil out of his clothes. The vinegar is good to use just to get better-smelling clothes.
Vivian O.

5. Mechanic’s Hand Soap

Try rubbing mechanic’s hand soap (GOJO Hand Cleaner is a common brand name) on the oily spots, then wash as normal. The best type is the kind that doesn’t need water, contains lanolin and is commonly found in a plastic tub.

I got this trick from a woman who always wore white and worked with me in a machine shop. At the end of the day she would put some hand soap on any (the many) spots and they always came out. I’ve since found out it will remove almost any stain.
Eric W.

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6. Good Quality Detergent

My husband is a diesel mechanic, and I have had to wash his uniforms for over ten years. I find that washing them in hot water with Tide with Bleach and drying them with a fabric softener sheet works fine. (I learned long ago that using a “bargain brand” detergent is not worth it. I only use Tide with Bleach.)

You may also try adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse water. I just put it in my fabric softener dispenser.
Patricia R.

7. Eucalyptus Oil

Try adding a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to the wash after the washer fills with water.
Andy P.

8. Pine-Sol

After years of greasy clothes leaving gunk in my washer, I found that heavy-duty (industrial) Pine-Sol (approx. 3/4 cup in full load), along with the soap, does a great job.

9. Dawn Dish Detergent

My fiancée drives a semi-truck and always seems to be getting either diesel fuel or axle grease on his clothing. The best thing I’ve found for getting diesel smell out of clothes is to pretreat the clothing with Dawn dishwashing detergent and then wash them as usual. I have even added some to the whole load to remove the diesel fuel smell.
Sherry W.

Before Using Any of These Solutions To Get Diesel Smell Out of Your Clothing

These products should be safe to clean clothing, especially durable “work” clothes. However, you may want to be cautious with delicate fabrics with some of these products. Or test the selected product on an inconspicuous part of the clothing items to ensure it won’t damage the fabric.

Reviewed January 2024

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