Filling up our vehicles with gasoline can feel like a normal, mundane chore. But spilling gasoline in your car can instantly remind you that gasoline is a pungent liquid. Gasoline contains chemicals known as BTEX, including benzene, that put off a powerful aroma that can be detected at very low levels. There are no two ways about it: If you get gasoline in your car, it can be an incredibly unpleasant experience. Luckily, once you know how to get the gas smell out of your car, it can be a relatively short-lived mess.
Let’s dive right in on the best ways to get the nasty smell of gasoline out of your ride.
How to get gas smell out of a car
Once you spill gasoline in your car, you’ll need to act quickly to remove the smell.
Gasoline evaporates rapidly but the compounds it leaves behind do not, and those compounds can be dangerous to your health and safety. No matter where you’ve spilled gas in your car, it is imperative to ventilate the vehicle immediately and continue to ventilate the vehicle as you clean up. It’s also important to not get gasoline on your bare hands because it can cause rashes, redness, and swelling. If you have disposable gloves (ideally nitrile), use them.
How to get the gas smell out of a car will depend on where the gasoline was spilled. If you take the following steps and the smell lingers, you may need to get the car professionally detailed.
How to get gas out of carpet
If you somehow manage to spill gasoline on the carpet of your car, you’ll need some elbow grease and a few basic household items to quickly knock out the smell of gas. Remember: Never sit in your car with trapped gasoline vapors! If you spilled gasoline in your car, roll the windows down immediately and keep the car well ventilated while cleaning.
- First, use a clean rag or towel (that you don’t mind tossing in the trash) to sop up as much of the excess gasoline as possible.
- Next, make a solution that is equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and hot water and soak another clean rag in the solution.
- Gently rub the solution liberally on the gasoline-soaked carpet.
- Last, take another clean rag and wipe away the solution. If the smell lingers, try some Febreeze or another similar product to knock out the last bit of smell.
How to get gas out of car upholstery
Getting the smell out of car upholstery works much the same as getting the gas smell out of carpet. Sop up the excess gasoline, drench the stain in the vinegar-baking soda solution and clean up with a clean, dry towel.
How to clean gas out of a trunk or hatch
If you have a vehicle with a carpeted trunk, follow the same instructions as above for removing the gas smell from carpet.
If you have a vehicle with a rubberized trunk liner, you can either use the sop, clean and dry method or you can dump a substrate like kitty litter or baking soda right on the spill. Once you apply the substrate, wait a few hours (keeping your trunk or hatch open), then use a hand broom and dustpan to sweep up the substrate. You may need to give it a final cleaning with the vinegar-baking soda solution, but the substrate should absorb most of the smell.
Check with your local waste disposal agency to see if putting the gasoline-soaked material in the trash bin is acceptable.
How to get gas smell off of your hands
There are several effective ways to get the smell of gasoline off your hands.
Options range from commercially available wipes to all-natural remedies like lemon or salt. Each method contains a chemical agent that breaks down the chemical bonds in gasoline to make it easier to rinse off the nasty smell.
- Straight white vinegar
- Salt and dish detergent
- Straight lemon juice
- Baking soda and water
- Vanilla extract
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Rubbing alcohol
- Commercially available wipes
- Mechanic’s soap
How to clean gas from your clothes
If your clothes are really drenched in gas, it’s best to dispose of them. But if the gas stain is only in a small area, it is possible to get the gasoline stink out of your clothes.
First, treat the stain with a solution of vinegar and dish soap (or baking soda) and allow the item to fully dry outdoors. Once dry, take a smell and see if the scent is still strong or if it has been reduced. If reduced to a faint smell, hit the stain again with straight dish soap or use a commercially available stain treater and throw the item of clothing into the wash. Do not wash gasoline-stained clothes with other clothes because the smell can transfer.
Wash the item on the hottest setting possible for the type of garment, remove it and air dry. The combination of cleaning and disinfectant agents along with time and air drying should remove the smell.
How to get gas smell out of a garage floor
The easiest way to get the smell out of a garage floor is to soak up the gasoline with a substrate such as kitty litter, baking soda, sawdust or straw. We recommend kitty litter because of its odor-absorbing properties, but other items will work in a pinch.
Spread kitty litter on top of the stain and ensure complete coverage. Leave it to soak up the gasoline for an hour or two. Use a broom and dustpan to collect the debris and put all debris into a plastic bag or similar sealed container to fully trap the smell. If smell lingers, use baking soda and vinegar to give the spot one final cleaning. Leave the garage door open during this process to prevent illness from inhaling vapors.
How to handle gas safely to avoid spills
Pumping gas at the pump is such a part of routine life for most of the U.S. that it’s easy to forget gasoline is a volatile substance that must be handled with extreme caution.
Here are some tips to handle both gasoline pumps and gasoline containers safely to avoid time-consuming spills:
- When pumping gasoline at a filling station, always make sure your doors are closed.
- Never overfill your gas tank. Once the pump stops, you should also stop to avoid spilling.
- Once you release the pump handle, give it a few seconds before you remove the nozzle. This will let all gasoline drip into your tank and avoid splashing.
- If you decide to transport gasoline containers inside your vehicle, place them in another, larger container or tray that will catch any spillage.
- Ensure all gas containers are in good working order, including nozzles, valves and seals.
- Fully tighten the filling neck handle and ensure the filling neck is capped prior to transport.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for gasoline smell to go away?
It depends on the surface and the amount of gasoline absorbed. Gasoline evaporates relatively quickly, so a small amount of gasoline odor may only linger for a few days. However, if large amounts of gasoline have soaked into a harder surface, for example, the lingering smell can hang around for years.
Is smelling gasoline bad for you?
Even in small amounts, gasoline can be extremely harmful. Breathing even tiny amounts of gasoline vapors can lead to nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and breathing difficulties.
How long is spilled gas flammable?
As long as gasoline is in its liquid form, it is extremely flammable. Even when spilled and mopped up, gasoline will still be flammable for around 15 minutes for a smaller spill. Larger spills with higher amounts of soaked-in gasoline can be flammable for much longer. As with most volatile chemicals, there are many variables.