We’ve all done it! It happened while you were removing the gas nozzle and it got on your shirt or pants. You accidentally stepped in a puddle of it by the pump. Or maybe you filled up the gas can, a hard day of mowing ahead of you, and on your way home you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting that cute little squirrel and it spilled in your trunk. At one time or another, chances are if you own a car, you’ve gotten that gas smell stuck in it that just doesn’t know how to quit.
You hang your head out the window for fresh air, and crack open a new air freshener, hanging it from your rear view. Or you invest in one of those fancy little fans with the fragrance that attach to your vents. But now you’ve just got gasoline in a flower field. Yuck!
You can’t just leave it. It’s not going away on it’s own over time. Depending on the severity you could get dizzy, have headaches, or just feel plain old nauseous. Not good, especially when you are driving a two-ton piece of metal down the highway. So how do you do it? How do you get rid of that gas smell once and for all?
If you can afford to head to your local detailer, you’re probably already there having the pros work it out. But a trip to a professional can be costly and take up a lot of your precious time.
Since there are a wide variety of carpet and upholstery types used in vehicles, there is no single tried and true method to eliminate gasoline smell. However, there are some tips to omit that pesky odor yourself and mostly with items that you probably already have in your home.
It’s important to note that you should always treat gasoline and it’s fumes seriously and clean it up promptly. Remember that gasoline is highly flammable. Windows down, doors open, and a well ventilated area are must-haves for this process.
Soak up the spill
- The best thing you can do for any size spill is to not wait to take care of it. Soak it up right away! The longer it’s given to seep into the material, the harder it will be to remove the odor from the fabric’s fibers.
- For large spills, sop up the offending liquid with rags or cloths right away. Be sure you are using clean cloths. You don’t want to mix gas with another substance left on a dirty one.
- If your problem area is on the carpet or upholstery of your vehicle, try sprinkling cat litter or over the affected area to absorb any remaining wetness and odor. Cat litter should be left for a couple of days. Make sure you check your city’s guidelines for disposing of the litter.
- For smaller spills, coffee grounds or baking soda might work as well. Baking soda should be left on the area overnight and will also help remove any lingering dampness. Coffee grounds should do the trick for both absorbency and neutralizing odor but they will take a lot longer to work, up to a week.
- Make sure you thoroughly vacuum up whatever moisture-eliminating element you use before moving on to the next step.
Take care of the stink
- Try equal parts of baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water. For carpet, scrub with a sponge or brush. For upholstery, use a clean rag.
- Equal parts of cider vinegar, hot water, and dish soap have also been noted as a good mixture to neutralize odors.
- If your spill was really small, leave some dryer sheets on the spot for a couple of days. Their odor eliminating technology should take care of it.
- If you’ve got the cash, you could always purchase a commercial grade upholstery cleaning product. This is a buy where consumer reviews might help you avoid something that just consistently doesn’t work across the board. If you’re going to spend your money on something, you’ll want to know there’s a good chance it’s going to work.
- Looking for a commercial product that is free of chemicals? One product called Smelleze Reusable Car Smell Deodorizer pouch claims to be a non-toxic pouch whose contents contain a molecular structure that neutralizes and traps fumes and is recommended for who are sensitive to chemicals or have allergies. It is reusable and its power can be regenerated by placing it in the sun or microwaving as directed. Once depleted it can be recycled into the soil. Earth friendly choice for the win!
- In addition to any of these treatments, open the doors and windows as mentioned above! If you can do it and still manage to keep your car secure and safe, airing out the vehicle for a day after cleaning will do wonders.
According to AAA, Americans spend an average of around 50 minutes in their car per day. Whether you’re commuting to and from work, running errands, or just out for a cruise, that is plenty of time for unwanted fumes to wreak havoc on your well being.
This is especially risky during extreme temperatures when you are more likely to have your windows closed up and the air re-circulating within the vehicle. So no matter what method you decide to try, make sure you try something.
After dealing with cleaning and deodorizing your vehicle, be sure to wash your hands with a mild dish soap, hand soap or a bar soap. If the smell lingers on your hands, try scrubbing them with vinegar or toothpaste to remove the stench.
The time you spend solving this problem is well worth it to ensure rides in your car are enjoyable and healthy for both yourself and your passengers. And if you’ve never encountered a gas spill, bravo! But it might be a good idea to keep these tips on hand. Trust me, your day will come.