I recently used the diesel pump on a frigid morning and got fuel on my polar fleece (synthetic material) gloves. I have soaked them, washed them normally, washed them in the dishwasher, soaked them in a detergent/water bath then tried rewashing them... I have even tried rubbing lemon juice on them, but the prevailing petroleum patina persists.

I there an efficient and effective way to clean the smell off of synthetic clothing such as polar fleece? Methods used to eliminate this odor from other materials (linen/cotton) have proven to be less successful with the polyethelyne fabric

  • Hello Phlume! Have you tried Dishwashing Soap and soaking the clothing in the solutions you tried for few days while using baking Soda? You may just have to work the soap in good to help it disassociate the Diesel. This may help. Good Luck!
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 18:08
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    Lestoil is pretty good at removing organic stains, and might be a good solvent for the stench. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 18:24
  • Have you tried running them through the washing machine?
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 16:55
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    You should try Dawn dish washing detergent. I know that is rather specific and not a lifehack per se... However, that is what is used on birds to remove oils... My guess is that it removes the smell as well.
    – L.B.
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 2:22
  • I used to work around dialectric mineral oil, and it was constantly smelling up my cover-alls. I ended up squirting a few shots of Fast Orange in with the wash, and it worked wonders. Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 14:49

12 Answers 12


My hubby was a diesel mechanic for years. All I had to do was wash his clothes in Tide to remove the smell. However, since using detergent hasn't worked for you, try what a friend of ours had to do. He had to soak his clothing in vinegar, completely immersing, letting them dry and then washing. Hope this helps.

  • Just coming back to this.. I tried the vinegar method, and though it sort-of worked... there is a strong mixed smell of both elements in the gloves now. perhaps it is the fleece fabric? The vinegar smell is fading though so it may just wash out over time, but the petroleum smell is still there and quite strong (though considerably less than it originally was)
    – Phlume
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 20:14
  • So I have accepted and added the bounty to this answer because the vinegar seemed to work best out of everything... I added the vinegar again, and then washed in the dishwasher... only after soaking the gloves in the vinegar for a while, and then a mixture of lemon juice and dawn detergent... There is such a blend of smells now it's hard to know which is the strongest.. but it is enough to mask the diesel fuel smell.
    – Phlume
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 14:15

Short answer: No, there isn't.

From what I've found, all solutions suggest that you soak it in something for 12+ hours.

Try one or more of the following things:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Mouthwash (e.g. Listerine)
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar

You can also try to use them in combination.

Here is the solution I liked the most:

  1. Try soaking the clothes in a tub of warm water or washer, after agitating a few minutes with 1 cup of Tide or degreaser like Dawn dish soap, for 2 hours (this breaks down oils in fuel).
  2. Drain this water off, then rinse, and then refill tub or washer with warm clean water and a 2 liter bottle of Coke and a whole box of baking soda agitate it around to mix it up with the clothes.
  3. Let this soak for 12-24 hours.
  4. Wash like normal.

Others just suggest adding the above products to a usual wash with detergent. I did not test one of the methods, but I think that soaking for a few hours will result in a more thorough cleaning.

If washing with some extra product is a quick way for you, then I have to revise my short answer to: Yes, there is!


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    i'm going to try this tonight... after a stop at the store for the extra ingredients... perhaps the question should remove the time factor and replace it with a "best"
    – Phlume
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 14:20
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    As an update the gloves still have an odor of the fuel on them. ... The cola and baking soda made a mess of the fabric though... clumpy white chunks of the baking soda needed to be scrubbed a bit from inside of the fingers. They seem a bit "gritty" now.
    – Phlume
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 14:13
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    @Phlume Thanks for the feedback. As I have said, I haven't tested one of the methods, so I'm happy about your feedback. Hopefully, future people searching for help will appreciate it. Be careful around diesel pumps! ;)
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 14:27

I see that this is an old post but the fixes offered up, which I've read anyway, are mostly opinions and not true remedies.

For clarity; I work as a heavy-duty mechanic for a highway paving crew. Thus I am constantly exposed to diesel, tar, oil, etc. Everything I wear or come into contact with will smell of diesel /sulfur

The absolute easiest.. no 12-hour soaks, no mixing a coca cola /baking soda highball in the machine.. surefire way to remove that sulfur diesel smell is a product called "Fast Orange".
There is a gritty hand wash product and a smooth version. You want the smooth version for the washing machine.

Add some Fast Orange (it will say smooth on the container) in with a quality laundry soap (I use Gain or Tide), wash & rinse, then enjoy the smell gone. Works every time.

  • I've used the hand wash many times. Works like a charm on skin. Actually seems to dissolve grease without a lot of scrubbing, so I think the solvent does the heavy lifting, and should work good on clothes. Test on an inconspicuous part of fabric first though. Commented May 17 at 2:40

What you're smelling is diesel fuel that's remaining in the fabric after all your attempts to remove it. This occurs because the hydrocarbon fuel has bonded to the synthetic fabric (effectively a finely spun plastic). You need something that will loosen the bond between the fuel and the synthetic material, and there might not be such a substance that won't also damage the gloves.

If you're willing to accept the (slight, IMO) possibility of the gloves being damaged, you could try soaking them in rubbing alcohol or denatured ethanol (what the British call methylated spirits). I suggest this because those alcohols are solvents for all non-cyclic hydrocarbons, and shouldn't damage most synthetic fabrics. I warn you because, depending on the denaturing agent used, denatured ethanol might damage the fabric or leave a different odor (ethanol is denatured by adding gasoline, in at least some parts of the USA).


In the Army, even though we were a medical unit made up of mostly medics, everyone had to go to the Motor Pool every week to do preventive maintenance (e.g., check the fluids, look for leaks, throughly clean) by inspecting in, under, around, and on top of our Humvees, ambulances, and 5-ton truck.

Inevitably, we all left the Motor Pool with grease, oil, and such on our uniforms. A Sergeant told me to put my uniform in the washing machine, use the hottest water and strongest agitation settings, and then pour a can of coke in and let it run. Then before putting them in the dryer, make sure to check to be sure all of the grease and stuff is gone. It worked every single time!

P.S. She didn't mean it had to be Coca-Cola, per se. Just has to be a brown soda, so not 7-Up, Sprite, Fanta Orange, etc.


I figured this out by trial and error and it works perfectly. I put 2 Tide tabs in the washer, then the smelly clothes. Splash lots of Mr. Clean type liquid on top of the clothes, then lots of Dawn orange scent anti-bacterial dish soap. Use hottest water and heavy duty cycle. Poof. Smell is gone. I have a front loader washer and was nervous that the dawn would suds up too much but was ok.


My husband came in with diesel smelling clothes, so I tried using vinegar, & also baking soda, but they still smelled as strong as ever. So I decided to try DAWN Ultra PLATINUM erasing dish foam soap, I soaked the clothes for 12 hours with a healthy amount of this soap in the water....drained the water, and put them through a normal wash cycle. It worked!! The clothes smell quite strong with the soap smell, and I think next time I will put them through a wash cycle of vinegar or baking soda AFTER the dawn soap, but I'm impressed...now I know how to deal with the strong diesel odor. This soap can be bought at Walmart, or Lowes Home Improvements. Sandfarm wife in Texas.

  • I'm concerned about suds. Dish soap is designed to produce high suds. Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 13:45

My husband worked on the oil rigs. We took his clothes to a laundry mat and bought a six pack of coke. Two cans a load, took out the grease, even diluted in all that water (no laundry soap). I wonder what it does to your stomach!


A standard technique for deodorizing is to apply vacuum, possibly heating at the same time. The reason the diesel stinks is that it is slowly evaporating, and we detect the vapors. (Solid particles can also have a smell, but that's not the problem here.) The way to permanently get the smelly diesel components out of your sweater is to put it in a vacuum chamber. This is not the sort of thing most people have lying around, but if you posted on craigslist it's likely someone in your city would let you use one. Home or shop vacuum chambers are used by people that do casting for art or product design as well as chemists that need to make powders very dry.

If you use this technique, best success would be obtained by wrapping the fabric in something else that can adsorb small amounts of diesel. The vacuum will cause the diesel to evaporate off, but may not pull all of it out of the chamber. The added absorbent material will prevent the diesel from being redeposited on the fabric.


Fast orange detergent.

I tried everything everyone said here and none of it worked. Days of soaking etc. in various concoctions.
I saw an answer by a guy to use fast orange. It works 100%. Do a degrease before a main wash, then use fast orange detergent.


Arm & Hammer laundry soap works great for the smell not direct spills. Wash in hot water let soak for a hour or more the smell is gone.


my glove got wet with diesel this morning and the smell is quite strong. I am going to try leaving the glove immersed in dry ground coffee (not a premium brand) , about 1 pound bag, in the coffee powder, no water added, for a while. Also, I will have to keep the gloves in a plastic bag and now dedicate them to be used for fuelling only.

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    You are going to try? This would make a much better answer if you had done this and could confirm that it works. Otherwise it sounds like speculation.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 19:15

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