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How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes (& Hands) 12 Tips for Campers

Diesel-powered RVs are fabulous on the road and they offer excellent fuel economy. But what happens after tinkering with your RV? Clothing is left smelling like they belong in a mechanic shop.

Here’s how to get diesel smell out of clothes: Wash with baking soda and vinegar, grease-cutting detergent, Listerine, or ammonia. To get rid of diesel smell on your hands, you can use mechanics hand cleaner, white vinegar, toothpaste, lemon juice, or salt and soap.

These tips are cheap and easy.

how to get diesel smell out of clothes

How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Clothes: Fast and Easy

First, let’s learn why diesel smells awful. Diesel smells bad because of its high sulfur content. Diesel has 15 mg/L of sulfur which typically smells like a combination of skunk, rotten eggs, and burnt matches.

But then diesel is petroleum-based, meaning it has oil, complicating matters. The best deodorizer for this job must also be a degreaser.

Let’s jump straight to the six best solutions for getting the diesel smell out of clothes.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Vinegar and baking soda are the most effective solution for removing stains and strong odors because they are natural deodorizers.

  1. Start by mixing ⅓ cup vinegar and ⅓ cup baking soda and add to your clothes.
  2. Add laundry detergent and wash.

When mixed, baking soda and vinegar form a chemical reaction that helps break down oils.

You may want to rinse your clothes multiple times to get rid of the smell.

2. Fast Orange

If you wonder how to get the diesel smell out of clothes without turning to DIY hacks, Fast Orange is your best bet.

Fast Orange is a soap product that primarily cleans grease from your hands. It contains glycerin, aloe, lanolin, and other ingredients known to be tough on stains and odors.

When using Fast Orange, fill the washing machine with water, add one tablespoon of the detergent to the water and proceed to wash your clothes.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. And to check your clothing labels for any warnings before tossing it in the washing machine.

3. Baking Soda and Alcohol

Before you begin, you must wash your clothes in lukewarm water so that the stench can come off easier.

Fill up one-quarter of your washing machine with cold water, then add one cup of baking soda and one cup of alcohol.

Put your clothing into the machine and let it run through its cycle.

4. Use a Heavy Duty Detergent

Using a heavy-duty detergent will help to get the diesel smell out of clothes. Invest in powerful detergents formulated to remove grease stains and strong odors.

You can use heavy-duty detergent to pretreat your clothes and later wash them as normal.

Soak your clothes in cold water and apply the detergent to the clothes. Scrub it in and let it sit for about 2 hours. Wash with the heavy-duty detergent too.

5. Listerine

Firefighters reportedly use Listerine to remove smoke odors from their clothes. Listerine mouthwash can also help you get a diesel smell out of clothes.

If your clothes are smelly with that awful diesel odor, soak them in Listerine before washing them.

If you want to rid your clothes of the smell, add a cup of Listerine and run your clothes in the washing machine.

6. Ammonia

Ammonia is one of the most effective ways to get rid of a diesel smell. Ammonia is an alkaline compound that neutralizes acids in diesel fuel to prevent corrosion.

It also has very strong cleaning properties and will help neutralize any diesel residue on your clothes.

  1. Start by adding about 1/4 cup of ammonia to a bucket filled with warm water.
  2. Stir until all the ammonia has dissolved in the water.
  3. Then add your clothes and let them soak for at least 20 minutes before washing them.

You need to be careful with ammonia. If used incorrectly (mixed with other chemicals) it presents significant danger.

What about stinky gasoline? Here’s how to get gas smell off your hands.

get diesel smell off hands soap
Grease cutting soap to remove diesel smell from hands

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6 Ways To Remove Diesel Smell From Hands

You can use any affordable methods below to get a diesel smell from your hands. 

1. Use Mechanics Hand Cleaner

My favorite way to cut the grease and smell of diesel is with mechanics’ hand soap.

As soon as you add water, you’ll notice the difference over regular soap. It immediately feels less greasy and the residue quickly rinses away.

For an all-natural option, you can try Grip Clean. If you anticipate having your hands in diesel and other greasy products, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a jug of this in the RV.

2. Salt and Soap

The process is simple. Mix equal parts salt and soap, wet your hands, and rub them together for a few minutes before rinsing off.

The combination of the two ingredients creates a reaction that masks odors.

This method works best with unscented soaps, but you should avoid using it on areas around cuts or wounds. You can add a little bit of lemon juice to the mix to speed up the process.

3. White Vinegar

Vinegar is a great household cleaner. It can be used to degrease and remove rust from tools, wash windows, clean your fridge, and even make your laundry smell better. But did you know that vinegar can also remove the diesel smell from your hands?

Apply white vinegar to your hands and rub for 40 seconds, cleaning between the fingers. Rinse and dry with a towel. 

4. Lemon Juice

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap to remove any dirt. Squeeze some lemon juice onto both hands and rub them together until they are coated with juice from top to bottom.

Let it sit for five minutes so that the lemon juice has time to work its magic! Rinse off the soap with warm water and dry with a clean towel.

5. Toothpaste

The whitening ingredient in some toothpaste, baking soda, will neutralize the bacteria that cause bad odors on your fingers and fingernails.

To get rid of the smell, apply a dab of toothpaste to both hands, rub them together and rinse off. You’ll find that your hands are fresh and minty-smelling again.

6. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is another inexpensive solution for getting diesel out of clothes and hands. In a jar containing 100 ml of water, add a few drops of vanilla extract. Wash and rub your hands using the mixture at intervals of 40 seconds. 

Only stop when the smell of diesel is gone, and you can only smell vanilla. Rinse with soap and clean water, and you are done.

how to get rid of diesel smell
The unmistakable yellow diesel fuel can

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Smell Like a Suave Camper

You now have the best solutions for getting the diesel smell out of clothes.

Make sure you treat your clothes at regular intervals and consider using a pre-treatment method like vinegar before washing your clothes. Do the same for your hands, and you should be able to manage that nasty diesel smell.

Have a tip to share? I would love to hear what is working for you!